Our neighbors up the street always get a big tray of cookies at Christmas. They’re the neighbors who bring the paper up to the porch in bad weather – the thoughtful ones who do things because it’s the neighborly thing to do. They’re very special people who welcomed us into the neighborhood with open arms when we moved in 17 years ago. The kind of neighbors you don’t see very often, anymore.

A couple of years ago, they sent us a can of Cougar Gold cheese from Washington State University as a Christmas gift. Marie and Kay know how much we like food, like different foods, and thought it would be something we’d enjoy.

Canned cheese – who woulda thunk? It turned out to be pretty damned good. I found out WSU is actually famous for their cheeses and developed the ability to can cheese back in the 1930s. They’re really good at it.

This year, we received a can of their Viking Dill Garlic. The Cougar Gold is an aged cheddar. The Viking is, according to their website: A gourmet, creamy-white, semi-soft cheese similar to Monterey Jack. With a delicate taste, this soothing sensation melts in your mouth. Its characteristic tiny cracks and high moisture makes it perfect for any dish. The Dill Garlic variety continues with: Dill weed, dill seed, and mild garlic are added to our Viking cheese for an optimal balance of flavor and appearance. Flecks of green and brown provide bursts of flavor in every bite!

Knowing how good the first can was, I figured it needed to be opened tonight and a bit of it made into scalloped potatoes. I figured correctly.

I do have to admit that it was a bit strange the first time I opened a can of cheese – that was supposed to be cheese and not some plastic cheese-food product in an overpriced gift basket. But after the first taste, the strangeness went away and all I wanted was more.

Same with the cheese, today.

I made a simple white sauce, added some cheese, a splash of hot sauce, a splash of worcestershire sauce, and a bit of S&P. I thinly-sliced potatoes on my mandoline – go buy one, they’re worth it – and mixed it all together in a buttered casserole. 375°F oven for about an hour – covered for 45 minutes, uncovered for 15 – and they rocked!

It went with a grilled tri-tip roast and broiled zucchini topped with parmesan. It was a fun dinner with lots of great flavors.

Thank you, again, Marie and Kay for a fantastic gift. You’re on the cookie list for 2018!