Posts Tagged ‘family’


read, cook, eat: Mother’s magic macaroni, tomatoes and cheese

April 11, 2014

TV Dinner Time logo

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.


clip: Letter to a Young Man Starting Out, coming to a computer near you

December 11, 2013

You know how these things happen. You’re panicking about Christmas gifts. You remember Shaun’s grandmother said she wants a photo of us together so you go digging in photo albums and binders of DVDs and envelopes of negatives and a tower of external drives and a handful of loose thumb drives and NOTHING. But then there’s this cigar box and even though it’s from too long ago and can’t possible hold the photo you seek, you open it and right there, amid the loose photos of relatives there is no hope of ever identifying, there amid all these virtually anonymous photos there is a typed letter, a card really, on College de St-Boniface letterhead, dated “le 3 juin, 1956”. And you’ve seen it before, only now, your French is improved enough that you can read the whole thing. And to understand it and become very angry. And that leads you to want to burn it. But you think, wait. You should tell someone, should ASK someone first. Because the letter is not to me. The letter was written to my dad, Georges Euclid Duguay, who was 19 at the time and 67 when he died in 2004. So I showed it to my brother. And, well let me just say that there was no burning, but there was a spark of an idea of what should be done with this letter. He’s working on that and I’m working on this, which exists in my head and in this movie trailer, courtesy of the iMovie app’s ridiculously easy and fun movie trailer templates. I did this in about 45 minutes and I’m new to the app. I share that so you can also be emboldened to be brave and have your own fun. But for now, if you’d just be amazed, I’d be grateful. The fuller project, however it manifests, will come along when it comes along. With great gratitude to my brother, Richard Duguay.


read, cook, eat: I am giving away cans of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (but there’s a catch) UPDATED & MYSTERY SOLVED

January 10, 2012

Jean's Lemon Delight, in all its incomplete glory. Come up with the directions to make these ingredients into a lovely slice and win a can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. Photo by Denise Duguay

Editor’s note: Late-night blogging serves no one well. The original version of the recipe omitted the eggs. The management is wishing she had a minion, on whom to blame this.

Couple months back, I walked into our lunchroom at The Gazette and was shocked to speechlessness. There was a colleague pouring Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk into a coffee cup. IN FULL VIEW OF OTHER ADULTS. He explained, when I recovered, that he was making some sort of obviously amazing coffee. Whatever. The incident did not impress my with its genius blending of coffee and super sweetness. It was the rawness of the thing.

You see, I have my share of the milky, molten nectar of the sugar-buzz gods. I have had it on ice cream, I have poured it (sloppily) on a chunk of high-test dark chocolate, I have creamed it onto toast (white bread only please, and the more butter, the better, duh). I have not bothered even with those diversions. I sucked it out of the can through those triangle holes left by those old can openers (perfect!). I have just poured it down my gullet and NOT BRUSHED MY TEETH IMMEDIATELY (which was a mistake; major tooth throbbing that took days to quell).

But all of these things I have done under cover of locked apartment door. And that was part of the fun. Reaching back to a childhood of stealing the dregs out of the can leftover from some slice or other my mother had made. Or actually opening a new can (thus forcing myself to dispatch the entire tin, from which I broke no sweat) and hoping she’d forget she’d had one on deck. The thievery made it better, made the sugar buzz brighter. But this colleague! He was just drinking it, right there in front of other adults! So I’m emboldened. I’m outta the closet.

I’m cracking open a tin (doesn’t everybody have a Costco three-pack in the pantry?) and although the goal is a good swig of the EBSCM, I’m not a wasteful thug. So Im also going to make one of my grandmother’s slices… Yes I have it right here, from her red tin recipe box: Lemon Delight. It calls for 1-1/2 cups (375 ml.) Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk and … Wait, that means I have to open two 300 ml tins, which means … Yes it does! It means there will be plenty left over. Now where’s that bar of dark chocolate I was saving …

Jean’s Lemon Delight

1 cup rolling-pin crushed Graham Crackers

6 T white sugar

3 T butter

2eggs (separated)

1-1/2 cups Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 T lemon zest

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 cup flaked coconut

Directions (courtesy of @i_am_mandie who has deferred her victory can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk – she’s vegan – but wins for providing a winning set of instructions for what to do with Grandma Jean’s lists of indients, above)

Melt the butter and combine it with the crushed graham crackers. Press that mixture into a pie pan. Bake 5 minutes at 300 C to set. (this last bit about baking it is my suggestion. dd)

Beat yolks until pale yellow. Add yolks to the condensed milk, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Pour that mixture into the pie crust.

Add sugar to egg whites and beat to form stiff peaks. Fold flaked coconut into the egg whites and dollop onto the yolk/lemon mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees (everything bakes at 350 degrees) until set.

And … Well, here’s the rub. There’s nothing else on the recipe card. So this has been a diabolical plot to crowdsource the directions here.

Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, nectar of the gods. Photo by Denise Duguay

Best guesses / pleas for help:


  • Crumbs, sugar, butter are creamed? mixed? into a crust and pressed to the side of an 8-by-8 pan or so. And then baked for 3 or so minutes at 325C?
  • The milk, zest, juice, eggs are …? Just mixed and poured into the shell and baked? Or mixed and cooked in a sauce pan until dreamily thick then poured into the shell and refrigerated? And why are the eggs separated?
  • And what’s with the coconut? In the filling? Atop the filling, once poured into the crust. And then? Bake the whole thing? Drink it down?
  • Forget the whole thing and just chug the two cans of sweetened condensed milk?

Won’t you help a friend with a jones for Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk? The first two to unlock the mystery of Jean’s Lemon Delight will be paid in Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk.



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