That’s the Power of Processed Cheese, Baby!

Yum! Creamy, dreamy queso goodness!

I live near one of those draft house cinemas; the wonderful kind that keeps the beer or wine flowing while you eat delicious treats and enjoy your movie. I’d been thinking a lot about my approaching viewing of the last Harry Potter movie, and thinking about Harry made me think of the draft house theater, which in turn caused me to think of my very favorite snack served there; queso and chips. Soon, my thoughts turned to cravings, and yesterday I was forced to begin my quest to find the components that made up the queso of my dreams. Luckily, my quest was short lived and went something like this:

Me: (to my friend Michelle) Hey, what do you think is in the draft house’s queso?

Michelle: I’m pretty sure it’s just Rotel and Velveeta…Oh! And those sliced pickled jalapenos.

Me: That sounds too simple.

Michelle: I’m pretty sure that’s it. Trust me.

Since Michelle had no reason to give me a bogus queso recipe, I made my way to the store to look for the three magic ingredients.

The can of Rotel and the glass jar of jalapenos had no effect on me as I placed them in my basket and made my way to the cheese aisle. It didn’t take long for me to find the familiar yellow rectangle with its accustomed red font screaming “Velveeta” on each

Processed never tasted so good!

side and boasting a $5.99 price for 32 ounces of pseudo cheesy goodness. I realized as I placed it in my cart that my last visitation with this product had been sometime in the late 1970s or early ‘80s.

Velveeta was the processed cheese product of my childhood. I have fond lunchtime memories of creamy tomato soup accompanied by toasty grilled cheese sandwiches filled with melty Velveeta. As my seven, ten, or fifteen year-old self dunked a triangle of sandwich into my soup, I never once considered Velveeta’s composition. It could have been crafted of yellow Play-Doh and dog hair and I would have eaten it because it tasted so darned good.

Once I made entrance into the exciting worlds of adulthood and motherhood, I began to actually consider what I was putting into the bodies of myself and my little minions. Words like preservatives, additives or processed had no place in our pantry or fridge, and my love affair with Velveeta fell by the wayside—until last night when I dipped my first tortilla chip into its creamy goodness. It was then I realized how much I’d missed seeing its quadrilateral form in the door of my refrigerator. And when my youngest daughter asked me what was in the dip, I couldn’t resist introducing her to the remaining quivering block of cheese product residing in its classic foil wrapper. Her taste testing led to a discussion of bubbling mac and cheese and burgers fresh from the grill with gooey cheese product dripping down their sides. It brought back memories of backyard “picnics” by my plastic kiddie pool and packed lunches with thick slices of Velveeta on whole wheat with mustard. Soon my daughter and I were making plans for a lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

I’ve heard our sense of smell evokes our strongest memories, but I have to believe that taste runs a strong second. The foods of our childhood are time machines, linking us to the warm comforting memories of our past. Though its label may feature words that I’ve tried to eliminate from our food vocabulary, Velveeta’s ability to catapult me to simpler times may just make it a permanent fixture on my refrigerator shelf.

What are some foods of your childhood that take you back in time?

Darling daughter delves into delightful dip!

Classic Rotel and Velveeta Queso Dip

1- 10 oz. can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies (do not drain)

1- 16 oz. package of Velveeta cut into 1 inch cubes

Heat together on a medium setting, stirring constantly, until creamy

Garnish with pickled jalapenos and enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips!

Day 14: 31 Days of Blogging Honesty

 

 

 

 

Day # 14 Question: The most disgusting food I’ve ever eaten was…

Ah, this question prompts me to tell you the tale of when I met prank phone call guy’s parents, my first set of in-laws. After PPCG (“prank phone call guy” from here on) had been dating for about a month, he decided that I should meet his mom and dad. Despite my silly interior, I’ve found that I am the type of girl that you take home to mom. So, dinner invitations were extended to me and I soon found myself sitting at the head of the table in their formal dining room.

Before I go any further in this story, it is important that I share with you my history of food up to that point. My mother was extremely picky about what she fed to us. I grew up in a very rural area where we had a ginormous, pesticide-free vegetable garden, an orchard of apple trees, a sprinkling of peach and pear trees, and a lovely bunch of chickens. All of our vegetables and fruits were either eaten fresh, or canned or frozen for the rest of the year by my mother and grandmother. The meat that we ate, aside from our chickens, came from the farm that was less than a mile from my house. My parents only bought a few things from the grocery store like dairy products, cereal, which was never the sweetened variety, and the components for baking bread. When our garden wasn’t producing mom would purchase some produce, but she would treat it as poison until she had thoroughly washed it.

You can imagine that my transition from eating a diet of whole, preservative free food, to eating food from a college cafeteria was a rough one. While I was thrilled to have the option of sweetened cereal, and ate my weight in Fruit Loops my first semester, my stomach was very sensitive to most of the foods offered. To avoid sudden attacks of intestinal distress, (AKA diarrhea), I found myself sticking to very safe options in the cafeteria; mainly foods that were in their whole form and not mixed into some sort of gloppy casserole.

After struggling to eat cafeteria food for so long, I was thrilled at the prospect of a home-cooked meal when PPCG’s mom invited me to dinner. There I sat at the head of the table where everyone could get a proper look at the girl who had stolen their son or brother’s heart. PPCG’s mom had prepared quite a spread of baked chicken, au gratin potatoes, green beans, and rolls. PPCGs mom was one of those who prepared everyone’s plate for them. First, she served the men, which would have NEVER gone down in my household! Then she served me. Before she spooned an item on my plate she asked me if I liked it. When she got to the au gratin potatoes, I told her they were one of my favorites, so she gave me an extra-large helping. After grace was said, we proceeded to chow down. The chicken was great. The beans were perfectly steamed. The rolls were delicious. The au gratin potatoes, however, were HORRIBLE. There was no creamy dreamy cheese sauce like my own mother made, and certainly no mellow, earthy taste from the potatoes. This dish tasted like garbage. It tasted as if it had been hatefully crafted by the Devil in the kitchen of Hell. As I politely choked down this orange glob that seemed to be growing on my plate, PPCG’s mother, asked me if I liked them. For a moment I wondered if she was being facetious. I wondered if I had been seated at the head of the table as part of a girlfriend poisoning ritual. I expected that if I peeked under the table that I would see her dainty cloven hoof impatiently tapping, waiting for me to die. “They’re great!” I said enthusiastically as I suffered another mouthful. “Well, believe it or not they’re from a boxed mix, but I think they’re just as good as homemade,” she replied. Relief swept over me. She wasn’t trying to kill me; she had merely made a bad cooking choice. I pretended to adjust the strap of my sandal and checked her feet. No cloven hooves! I was safe.

Apparently NOT made in Hell by the Devil. Who knew?