A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mountain Macaroni

Unlike the last time we went to the mountains, we brought food this weekend and cooked it.

It was a fairly eventful trip: our friends Ken and Melanie and their baby came. When we got up to the house Friday night the power had been off for several days, long enough for all the food in the freezers and fridges to spoil and for various horrendous goos and oozes to leak out all over the kitchen floor. We started up the generator, and the power company restored the power a few short hours after Lawson called them, and we avoided opening the fridge all night. The next day Mel and I cleaned it out, which involved throwing out a lot of economy sized tubs of mayonnaise and frozen shrimp and rancid orange juice concentrate. Also some odoriferous baby back ribs. Yuck.

Otherwise we were fine: we hiked, we drank, we pulled ticks off the dog.

Lawson smoked some ribs. They were salty and delicious. I steamed some okra. Lawson made a salad of Vidalia onions, red bell pepper, cucumbers, lemon, olive oil, and blue cheese.

And I made Southern macaroni and cheese, the baked kind.

I've had plenty of variations, eaten it at potlucks and holidays and barbecue joints, but I never knew much about it. Melanie explained to me that there are a few major schools of mac and cheese preference: the egg school and the creamy school. Lawson's family is the former, as is Ken's. Mel's family is split, with Mel in the creamy camp. I tend to like creamier kinds, I guess, especially because prior to moving down here I considered "macaroni and cheese" a synonym for "Kraft dinner." But I understand the appeal of egg.

I've made lame mac and cheeses in the past by following various recipes, so this time I decided not to use one, and I was very happy. I made a pretty good hybrid of the two styles unintentionally. I'm almost embarrassed to write it down, Mom...it is calorific redneck hiking food, that's for sure.

Mountain Macaroni

Cook about 12 oz. macaroni until not quite al dente.

Meanwhile, saute in olive oil until soft:
- one small fresh onion, diced
- one small fresh red chile or bell pepper (I used a mild Anaheim), diced

Remove to a bowl. Mix in:
- 1 cup half and half
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- several T mayonnaise
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 oz (1.5 smallish blocks) sharp cheddar, cut into cubes

Mix all together with the pasta; pour into big casserole dish; bake at 350 degrees for about half an hour.

1 comment:

Kris said...

I make two kinds of macaroni now--Mexican mac and cheese with tomatoes and chiles, and a skillet dish with sausage, etc.

We used to have the old-fashioned kind with cream sauce, yellow cheddar cheese, and paprika on top (which we served as a side dish with Polish sausage--we're lucky to be alive). Yours sounds great. There's a time and a place for that kind of dish.

Wow, that refrigerator situation sounds nasty.