When I was about 10, my mom taught me how to make macaroni and cheese. Not the kind from a box. Homemade, with a white-sauce-based cheese sauce. Not baked. Just soft, creamy, cheesy goodness all the way through.
I strayed for a while. I bought the blue boxes. They seemed cheap and easy. Eventually I realized that while my kids asked for these boxes and thought they liked the resulting goo (known to some as the Yellow Death), they never actually ate it. That's no bargain.
I switched back this summer to the recipe I learned as a kid. I might kick it up a little more than I did 27 years ago. But the idea's the same, and it's always a hit. Today I made it for nine little people. It was gone before I could get a picture.
This is not a diet recipe. All my kids are skinny and need to pork up, in my opinion. You can lighten it by using less butter, lowfat milk, and less or lowfat cheese. If you're using less cheese, try a sharper flavor. Maybe some sharp cheddar or parmesan. My mom made some recently using really good Irish cheddar. It was divine.
Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound dry pasta - any stubby variety will do. Today we used rotelle.
4 tbsp. butter or butterlike substance. Today, Brummel and Brown spread. Even olive oil works, in a pinch.
3-4 tbsp. flour
2 c. milk (skim or 1% is fine; use whole if you really want to fatten up those children so you can eat them later.)
1 c. grated medium cheddar cheese. More or less will still work. Other kinds will also work.
Seasonings to taste:
salt (a pinch is enough; milk and cheese are salty things!)
white pepper (I use about 3 good shakes)
dry mustard (half a teaspoon does me fine)
turmeric (tiny bit, for color only)
Boil pasta in salted water until done. Drain in a colander.
In the same pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir to make a paste. Cook about 1 minute to get rid of the floury taste. Add milk. Whisk constantly until smooth and thickened. Stir in cheese and seasonings. Taste and adjust.
Add pasta and stir to coat.
Serve to cute-faced people. Grapes are great on the side and perfectly in season right now, at the end of one fun summer.