no, i’m not talking about the stuff love handles are made of. i’m talking about the more abstract things we carry in our bell jars, the things yoga teachers say that make you roll your eyes with nausea: stress, tension, emotional pain, suffering, anger, resentment. even the cold. yes, yes, it’s true. you carry these things in your hips.
i too was an eye-roller, a non-believer & a skeptic at first when it came to these bold assertions. there are still some things i don’t buy. i grit my teeth when someone tells me i’m getting younger in salamba sarvangasana. no, salamba sarvangasana does not stop time. also, i’m pretty sure you’re assuming i want to be younger. i don’t. i’m like a block of hook’s cheddar, i get better with time. i haven’t met an era of life yet that i haven’t enjoyed more than the one that preceded it. but check in with me on that thought if i’m still job-hunting six months from now. ya’ll keep me honest.
back to those hips. if you don’t believe me, notice your body the next time you sit in traffic, have a difficult & uncomfortable conversation, or walk your dog briskly in the winter wind, whipping the powdery snow into soft peaks of frosting in the mixer bowl of the earth around you. anytime you wish to be anywhere but where you are, notice how your shoulders creep up toward your ears, your neck juts forward, your jaws squeeze together & yeah, feel the meat around your hips tighten. your body pulls your femur heads back into your hip sockets & shrinks up the space between your knees & the bony crests of your pelvis.
so, what’s a person to do with all of that bitter tension? hot yoga for one, it’ll help you shed the stories your body can tell to a room full of strangers without you ever having to open your mouth. you can also turn to herbal teas, warming spices, comfort foods. i do all of that plenty. see, i’ve had this white chicken chili on repeat, for example. but this winter, my favorite has been buffalo chicken mac ‘n’ cheese. it’s good for warming me up & making me feel like a kid again: safe & supported with nothing to worry about & everything to look forward to. & when you’re done feasting, you can always go back to feeling like the well-rounded woman (or man) that you are again: healthy, strong, cerebral, beautiful & free. it’s a good way to feel, isn’t it?
buffalo mac ‘n’ cheese*
-3-4 cups cooked, shredded chicken breasts
-16 oz. package of dried pasta – any kind will do
-4 tbsp butter
-4 tbsp flour
-2 c milk
-2 c shredded sharp cheddar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 5 oz. bottle of hot sauce plus more to season individual servings, if desired
1. preheat oven to 350*
2. meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. strain & rinse with cold water.
3. in a medium saucepan (or maybe the same pot you cooked your pasta in), melt butter over medium heat. add flour & whisk quickly into butter until incorporated to form a roux (thickening agent/base for cheese sauce).
4. add milk & salt, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens just enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. if i’m impatient, i’ll go ahead & turn the heat up a little bit here. it hastens things.
5. once the sauce has thickened, turn the heat off & stir in the cheddar cheese until it melts & gets swallowed up.
6. generously splash some hot sauce into the sauce as well at this point. whisk it in.
7. toss the shredded chicken in the remaining hot sauce.
8. combine the buffalo chicken, pasta & cheese sauce in a 9 x 13 inch glass casserole dish & bake for 15-20 minutes or until hot & bubbly.
*this recipe was inspired by mairin ryan, my hilarious & nonchalantly gorgeous coworker at dragonfly hot yoga, who posted a picture of herself feasting on the great dane‘s version of this bad boy on facebook a few months ago, which turned my kitchen into a friday night macaroni & cheese science lab for a hot minute.