When I'm feeling down, and in need of comfort food, I reach into my recipe book and start grating the extra-sharp cheddar for macaroni & cheese. I don't really remember having the "blue box" macaroni & cheese when I was growing up. Maybe we did, on occasion, but what I remember best is my Mom's real macaroni & cheese. My Mom's macaroni and cheese, is and always has been my favorite... and typically my birthday dinner. Just the thought of it brings me back to that old kitchen of my childhood- red brick carpet, orange counter tops, huge butcher block island and wallpaper covered in red geraniums. It brings me back to the first meal I ever learned to cook... It brings me comfort...
I think it was my first kitchen job, grating the cheese... I used the tall, semi-dangerous stainless steel grater placed over wax paper- and before I was done with half the block of cheese, my arm was exhausted... so a little rest, and then on to finish the job. I tried to get the most out of the cheese without grating my fingers, too, and was very proud when there was just a small sliver of cheese left.
I had to make on meal all on my own to earn one of my girl scout badges, so we chose the macaroni & cheese recipe I loved so much. I tirelessly whisked the white sauce until it was thick and bubbly, and then poured it over the steaming elbow noodles. When it was in the oven, baking, I sat on the floor in front of the oven window with the light on to watch the pale yellow bubbles turn golden brown...the sign that it was finally finished.
We served this favorite dish for simple suppers, and for birthday dinners... we shared it with out of town guests and new friends. Mom & I always worked it out so that it was our turn to be served when it was time to dish out the crunchy corners(we share the fondness of burnt food!) and the first bite always tastes heavenly. My own friends agree that this macaroni & cheese is the best... I have even earned the seal of approval from Charlotte, Laura's best friend, and have shared this recipe with Becky. I love to hear when they are having "Ms. Dawn's Mac & Cheese" for dinner!
I have prepared this dish so many times now, that I don't need to pull out the recipe... it is written in my heart. And, so, tonight, as I sit down with my children, and thank God for our food (and the dolphins), I will be comforted with memories, family, love, and macaroni & cheese.