It’s come to my attention that some of you might have a little extra time today, what with the government shutdown and all. Here’s an idea: Spend your day with Food. Start out by reading about how Tim Carman learned to make guanciale; then about how Joe Yonan hosted the vegan chefs from Philadelphia’s Vedge in his own home kitchen; then about how David Hagedorn discovered that restaurants all over town are getting creative with cauliflower. After that: See all those recipes in the section? Whip a few of them up for dinner. That should keep you busy, and it’ll be worth it.

Oh, and I almost forgot: In between, plan to be on hand for today’s Free Range chat. David Hagedorn is today’s special guest, on hand to answer questions about cauliflower and anything else that strikes your fancy. We start at noon sharp.

Did you know you can go to the site early and leave a question? That’s helpful to us, and it increases the chances that you’ll get an answer. Of course, if you don’t, there’s always me and my leftovers. Here’s one from last week’s chat:

Typically, I make mac and cheese casserole style, with an egg to hold it together so I can slice it. I’d like to branch out and try a mac and cheese on the stove top instead, but I don’t want it to taste like Velveeta or have that faux-thick consistency. Do you have any good recipes or tips? I’d like to use a cast-iron skillet, but don’t have one. Could I use a stainless-steel skillet so I can broil it in the oven a bit?

You couldn’t possibly have lobbed an easier question our way, or one dearer to our hearts. Let me refer you to our Mac-and-Cheese-O-Matic, which is the answer to just about all your questions. For recipes, start with our Classic Macaroni and Cheese, which, I can assure you, has nothing to do with Velveeta. Check our Recipe Finder to come up with many other mac and cheese recipes we’ve published over the years. There’s an astonishing array of them, no two alike.

You don’t need a cast-iron skillet. You can cook a delicious mac and cheese sauce in a saucepan, then mix it with the cooked macaroni. Eat it straight from the pan if you want, but it’s nicer to pour the whole thing in a baking dish and put a nice crumb topping on it, then bake or broil for a while until it’s bubbly and golden. And you’re there! Invite some federal employees over for a mac-and-cheese dinner. It’ll lift everyone’s spirits.