Dec. 14, 2007 was the original publication date of this blog post, back when my late mother was a going concern (and going and going). One thing we never bickered about was macaroni and cheese. She was the queen. I was standing close by with a bowl to be filled. Bliss. On the fifth-anniversary of this 11th ave blog, of which she was a ridiculously generous supporter (still top commenter, four years after resting in peace), I repost her mac and cheese classic.
Nobody does it like mother does. Macaroni, that is. Unless you’re the boyfriend and you hate tomatoes or even the idea that tomatoes would play any part in that most sacred of TV food groups, macaroni and cheese. Maybe it’s a chick thing. But Mother and I know what we like. So whenever the wind blows me back home to Winnipeg, and we gather with Aunt Daisy and the gals for an evening of cacklin’ good fun, this is what’s cookin. Mother, this one’s for you.
Betty’s Macaroni and Tomatoes and Cheese (TM)
While you’re boiling the bejeesus out of a box of macaroni or some more frou-frou pasta (i prefer whole wheat fusilli: mother is shaking her head no), set the oven to 375 C and haul out the biggest and heaviest casserole dish you own. Bonus points if it’s cast iron. Into that casserole, toss a can of tomatoes, roughly chopped with the edge of the lid if they’re whole, along with a half dozen chopped green onions, an unwise amount of freshly ground black pepper (take the salt shaker from Mother; she knows she’s not supposed to) and a wee bit from the two or three handfuls of cheddar that your mother has made you grate by hand (and now you’re bleeding!) because she’s too stubborn to use the food processor sitting patiently below the counter. Call Aunt Daisy into the kitchen to help you load the casserole into the oven to cook for the duration of the pasta’s cooking time. You’ll know the pasta is done when it is waaaaay past al dente. Limp even.
Call Aunt Daisy back to help pull the too-damned-heavy casserole out and place it beside the sink, where Mother will add the strained, limp pasta to the tomato mixture while trying not to spill too many noodles into the sink. If I am not looking, mother will add a bit more butter before stirring it up very well. Only thing left after that is to add the generous, shaggy mound of grated cheddar.
Place back in the oven and cook for roughly three old family stories you’ve heard a million times before but that still make you laugh (some would say bray). It’s done when the cheese is browned. If Aunt Daisy is not too tipsy, call her back to haul it out. Mother, of course, will serve. You’ll all eat from TV tables and you won’t complain. And of course, you’ll be glad you wore your eatin’ pants.