I Love Cheese

Having been brought up in an Asian culture, one thing that really impressed me when I moved to America is how shameless the people here are— and I mean that in the highest form of compliment.

Self-confidence and self-promotion is kind of frowned upon in Asian society. Instead, silence about one’s achievement and even self-deprecation is encouraged so as to display an appearance of modesty and humility.

If someone compliments you, don’t say “Thank you”. That’s rude and arrogant! No, you’ve got to first reject the praise, saying, “No, no, I’m not…” and then go on to downplay whatever compliment you received by saying something like, “I’m actually not that smart/pretty, blah blah blah…”

On the other hand, if someone criticizes you, you are discouraged from defending yourself, especially if that person is older than you. No, you’ve got to bear it with silence and dignity. But often times, those who just endures it ends up holding a nasty grudge that eventually poisons the relationship.

Imagine my surprise when I first came to America. I thought I was surrounded by a bunch of swollen-headed, disrespectful kids! I was shocked when the majority of the kids in class raised their hands when a teacher asked a question. That never happened in Singapore! Or when most kids seemed to have no problem stating that they are good in something, or the fact that nobody stuttered when speaking in public; in fact most seemed to relish the attention. Or when these kids faced critiques, they actually spoke up for themselves!

And you know what? I absolutely loved it. I loved the air of confidence, and the way everybody spoke out in class, even if some basically spoke a gabble of bullshit just so she/he could be heard. Until now, I’ve never really met anybody here who is truly “shy” the way some people are in Asia.

I have to admit, I still instinctively downplay any compliments given to me. But I’ve become less shy and self-depreciative over the years. I love to raise my hand in classes, and I don’t mind showing off my talents, or speaking about my achievements.

I think to a certain degree, being shameless is a good thing. It just means you are thankful for who you are and what you have, and it’s always nice to share that with others.

And now, I’m going to be completely shameless by bragging about this freaking awesome dish I made with Mimi, and by basically begging to win a giveaway. Because when it comes down to cheese, I have no face!! 😀

You see, one of the sister bloggers is having a fantastic giveaway…a whole $60 dollar gift basket to Cabot Cheese!!! The rules to enter is simple: Come up with a recipe using cheese.

Biz suggests using Cabot Cheese, but unfortunately, I’m dreadfully 1) poor (remember my measly bank account?) and 2) I’m frightfully, dreadfully low in cheese supply: I only have three kinds left! Which is another reason why I need to win this giveaway.

So without further ado, let me introduce my mind-blowingly, brazenly brilliant cheesy recipe…(see how shamelessly self-advertising I am?)

Kabocha Mac & Cheese with Bacon and Zucchini

2 cups dry pasta
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, diced
4 strips bacon, diced
1 small zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup kabocha puree
1/2 cup cottage cheese
about 1/3 cup milk
cheese packet from Annie’s Mac & Cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
handful of feta cheese
cracked black pepper

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to box directions.

Meanwhile, cook together garlic and onion, and add in the bacon, and stir until cooked, then stir in the zucchini and cook about 2-3 minutes more until zucchini is cooked but not mushy. Grate in some black pepper.

In another bowl, whisk together the kabocha, cottage cheese, milk, cheese packet, and cheddar cheese. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain, and immediately mix into the cheese mixture. Stir in the cooked vegetables.

Pile everything out into a casserole dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and feta cheese, grate black pepper on top, and pop into a 400 degree oven.

Cook for about 20 minutes until cheese is nice and melted.

Ta-da!! I should have cooked it a bit more to get that toasted cheesy top, but the fragrance from the oven was driving me crrraazy!!

By the way, I had to borrow the cheese packet from Annie’s:
Why? Because I didn’t have enough cheese. You reading, Biz? 😉
Anyway. Obviously, casseroles aren’t pretty. But let me tell you, this was one explosion of flavors in my mouth!!
Who hasn’t deigned to let a bite of Mac & Cheese touch her lips in forever, loved it! (It’s true! Ask her!)
By the way, bacon, kabocha, and zucchini goes PERFECT together. What a fantastic combo! What a genius I am! (Again, in with the shameless self-promoting)
And of course, cheese will go with anything and everything. I would eat my own liver if it was smothered in good cheese.
So. I gobbled up half like a barbarian. Mimi nibbled up almost 1/3 like a dainty Southern belle. And we generously left the teensy bit left for my roommate:
There. I’ve gone all out and shamelessly done whatever I could to underscore the point that I must win this giveaway. And I’ve shamelessly established myself as a cheese-whore. But maybe that isn’t really news…?

But of course, part of being a good shameless person is also being thick-skinned, so I won’t be too…uh…devastated if I don’t win. May the best cheese-whore win! (Pick me! Pick me!)

Question of the day: So, I’m a shameless Cheese-Whore. What are you shameless about?

P.S. No blogger meet-up yesterday…The blogger I was supposed to meet got stuck in the road because her car broke down! T__T;;;

P.P.S. I’ve got a mid-term tomorrow. WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING writing about cheese?! Somebody smack me!