Thursday, January 31, 2013

Grandma's Macaroni & Cheese

 My Grandma passed away two weeks ago and today is her birthday.  She was my most loyal blog reader, and I know she loved being mentioned when I wrote about her Company Chicken recipe last year.  I had to share this recipe as well, because it is by far my very favorite of all the things she cooked for us over the years.

Grandparents are of course supposed to spoil their grandchildren.  And Grandma was the best at spoiling us with food.  I have so many memories of sitting at her kitchen table eating fishy crackers (our term for Goldfish crackers), circus cookies, and nuts and bolts.  Whenever Erin and I spent the night she made this amazing cinnamon toast for breakfast that always tasted so much better than mom’s.  Erin and I finally figured out that reason Grandma’s tasted so much better had something to do with the inch of sugar she piled on top of the toast.  We shared this valuable information with mom but she did not adjust her sugar ratio.

This macaroni and cheese recipe represents the pinnacle of just how much Grandma spoiled us.  I know this is probably going to shock quite a few of you given my love of food, but I was kind of a picky kid.  I never reached Erin’s level of extreme, debilitating pickiness, but I admit I was a little high maintenance.  Bananas are really the only modern hold-over from my long list of dislikes.  But I never had to worry about family gatherings at Grandma’s because without fail, no matter what other meal she had prepared for the masses, I could always expect a glorious pan of her homemade macaroni and cheese on the table for me. 

To be clear- this tradition is not just something that I remember fondly from my childhood.   Right before Christmas this year, my whole family gathered at Grandma and Grandpa’s to watch the Seahawks game.  I was really not expecting to have macaroni and cheese, since I knew we were having lasagna for dinner and some people might think lasagna with a side of mac n’ cheese is too much pasta.  But I was foolish to doubt her, because of course there was a huge pan full of melted cheesy goodness on the table when I walked in.  I am 27 years old, and I still got my special dinner.

While I was home two weekends ago, we had a big family gathering to celebrate Grandma’s life.  We spent hours around the table eating her favorite foods and drinking gimlets while we remembered all of the incredible times our family has had together.  Erin made this recipe and everyone said it tasted just like Grandma’s.  Even though we were all missing Grandma, this dinner reminded me of just how wonderful family dinners can be.  My love of cooking is about a whole lot more than the food that I make.  And I know I have my Grandma and the rest of my family to thank for that.

Here is the recipe.  I've provided a translation below since I realize that not all of you have my extensive experience in deciphering Grandma's handwriting.

serves 12 

1 pound elbow macaroni
3 cups milk
3 cups cut up cheese (half mild and half sharp cheddar)
1 cup soda cracker crumbs
½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Cook macaroni and put in greased 13-9 glass baking dish.  Heat milk and cheese together until the cheese is melted.  Pour mixture over the macaroni- add salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with grated cheese.  Add cracker crumbs.  Bake at 325 degrees 1 hour.

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