My maternal grandmother was a great many things. Foremost of those was a homebody. Until dementia took her fear away, she was uneasy to leave the confines of her own yard, and she was content there (mostly) raising 14 children. I remember her most for the way in which she froze her Cool Whip and then allowed us to eat it like ice cream, but Cool Whip, for her, was a modern invention. She raised 5 children right through the depression and into the second world war, when more would come. At one time, there were 11 children, plus two adults, living in their two bedroom house. At the time, it had an outdoor toilet.
She was a resourceful lady. She made a lot with a little and she did it cheaply. In honor of that idea, one of her classic dishes, passed down to my mother and then, on to me, is her version of homemade macaroni and cheese. I've never had any that came close.
While we were in Michigan this weekend, mom made enough for all of us to share a less frequent family meal. It works well for blogging purposes, as the last time I made it has yet to be blogged.
Mom's Mac N Cheese
(Tried and true recipe for generations)
1 8 oz. box macaroni (I--the health-conscious veggie of the family--use wheat mac)
3 T margarine/butter
2 T flour
1/2 t salt
2 1/2 c milk
1/2 lbs grated cheese
1. Place butter in a skillet. When melted, add flour and salt. Stir until blended. Add milk to flour mix, stirring constantly until well blended. Cook until cheese melts. How, here's my favorite part of the recipe, word for word: "By making the sauce first, you have a much more delicious concoction."
2. Grease casserole dish (or dishes. as the case may be) and place macaroni in dish. Put cheese sauce over macaroni. And cook in pre-heated oven, set for 350 degrees, for one hour.
Whenever mom busts out the mac n cheese recipe, I'm a kid again. There's a perfection in the imperfectness of the consistency, the way it globs together on a fork, that just can't be matched by the neon orange boxed varieties, try as they may.
When I made this recipe myself in the confines of my Cleveland apartment's kitchen, I paired it with a side of Toasti, just to add a bit of vegetables to this nonvegetable vegetarian feast, pairing a new favorite with an old for a nice mix of flavors and colors and textures.
I'm sure everyone has at least one childhood dish they couldn't give up. This is mine. What's yours?