Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese

I’m cooked out. Done. Finished. The snow kept me in for days and I’ve cooked and put away enough food for the rest of the winter. I feel like a squirrel.

So, instead of cooking again I cleaned my fridge. Which reminded me of my mother because in my fridge was some old American cheese, a little darker in color around the edges and somewhat hardened.

Why does this remind me of my mother?

Because I remember my mother cleaning out the fridge and finding crusty American cheese, which she then used (with lots of other cheese) to make macaroni and cheese and it was the best macaroni and cheese you could ever want.

I once wrote about this for one my newspaper articles. My mom was still alive then and she was terribly embarrassed by what I said. Embarrassed that she would use crusty old cheese for cooking.

But I assured her that I was saying good things about her. Admittedly she wasn’t the thriftiest person I ever knew, but she did have a knack for leftovers and macaroni and cheese was one of her best. No need to be embarrassed to use perfectly good stuff even if it is not perfectly new. After all, cheese is supposed to age right? The cheese she found (and that I found) wasn’t moldy or rotten or smelly. Just a little dry. And when you put dried up old cheese in a hot liquid it melts into velvety sauce. So good.

And I guess I am not cooked out after all because I am about to make some Macaroni and Cheese. Here’s my mom’s recipe:

Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese

8 ounces elbow macaroni

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

4 ounces American cheese

2 ounces blue-veined cheese

2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, approximately, optional

bread crumbs, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the macaroni until it is al dente, drain and set aside. In a saucepan melt the butter over low-medium heat. When it looks foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, without letting the mixture become brown. Gradually add the milk and stir constantly using a whisk until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Stir in the salt, American cheese, blue-veined cheese and 2 ounces of cheddar cheese and whisk the sauce until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir the sauce into the cooked macaroni. Spoon into a baking dish and top with grated cheddar cheese or bread crumbs. Bake for a few minutes until the grated cheese is hot and melty or the bread crumbs are golden brown. OR serve without the cheese or bread crumb topping. Makes 4 servings