Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I'm Sorry, Mom

It's come full circle. Tonight one of my own children looked at a delicious plate of homemade macaroni and cheese and said, "Ewww. I like the kind in a box from the store better."

It was only the slightest consolation that in response to being told, "But you always liked macaroni and cheese," the young miscreant revised somewhat more politely, "But I do not prefer it, Father. I do not prefer it at all."

What exactly is the magic of that bright orange powder for the young?

If making macaroni and cheese from scratch sounds daunting, be assured that it is not. It's easy to make the sauce in the time it takes the water to boil and the noodles to cook. Here's the sauce recipe:

In a glass bowl, melt three tablespoons of butter in the microwave.

When it's fully melted, stir in three tablespoons of flour. Grind in pepper. Add half a teaspoon of salt or so (I never measure, so can't swear) and a few dashes of paprika (or cayenne pepper if you want some extra kick) and stir it all up. Microwave for another 30 seconds.

Add three cups milk. Mix and microwave for 1:30 increments, stirring at the end of each round, until it begins to thicken. This will take 6-9 minutes total. While it's doing that, grate one pound of cheddar (preferably sharp or extra sharp.)

When the sauce has got a bit thick and sauce-like, add in the grated cheese in 3-2 rounds, stirring in between. No need to microwave further. Taste and add salt, pepper or Tabasco if desired.

Pour over the drained noodles, or else pour the drained noodles into the sauce, and stir.

There you have it. Great, home-made macaroni. Only according to six and seven-year-olds everywhere, it's not as good as the housebrand stuff from the box. For adults on the other hand, it's delicious.


Big Tex said...

It's the artificial coloring (and possibly even the preservatives). Kids are attuned to bright colors... ever wonder why candy is often packaged in bright, flashy wrappers? Ever wonder why McDonald's enjoys its success in the juvenile demographic?

Anonymous said...

The Blackadder Says:

Haven't had Darwin's homemade mac n' cheese, so I can't speak to the comparative. But the stuff that comes out of the box is quite good.

Enbrethiliel said...


Making a roux in a microwave?!

I'll have to try this some time! =)

BaltoCath said...

I confess...

... to being a 47-year-old Kraft Dinner addict.

bearing said...

The mistake is letting them try the stuff from the box in the first place.

I grew up on homemade mac 'n' cheese and I still don't think I've ever eaten a box of the imitation variety.

There are even easier homemade versions out there -- you can do it in a crockpot, for example, with the help of some canned evaporated milk; you don't really need to make a roux, you can do it with just milk and cheese (and GF pasta) if you need to make a gluten-free version; and you can also use a mixture of ricotta, milk, and shredded cheese for a bake-only version that doesn't require the stove top step (because the ricotta thickens the sauce enough).

Anonymous said...

Verily, what goes around comes around. Someday the Darwinettes will be getting that same response from their own children.

Thanks for the good laugh!

P.S. Extra paprika will make the color closer to that of the boxed variety.

--Darwin's Mom

Enbrethiliel said...


Bearing has a point. I didn't taste macaroni and cheese from a box (and didn't even know there was such a thing) until I was thirteen. I haven't had any since.

Rick Lugari said...

Mac-n-cheese is one of the few foods the little miss will eat heartily. Just don't try passing her that name brand named stuff like Kraft. Only the cheapest store brand will do. Not really complaining though, especially because my kids don't think twice about eating the off-brand cereal that comes in the big bag.

The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

The Opinionated Offspringen enjoy a similar method of homemade m&c (sans poivre, which would cause utter rejection), but with a twist you might try: we dump the finished stuff into a pyrex dish, sprinkle parmesan on top, and bake it at 325 for 15 minutes. This gives the stuff a thin but crispy and cheesy topping, which I have been informed is the crucial edge over the boxed stuff.

Anonymous said...

Here's an even easier recipe, courtesy of my Aunt Sue:
Cook 2 C macaroni in salted water for 7 minutes.
Shred 1 pound or more of hard cheese -- we like sharp cheddar, but any hard cheese will do.
Put half the mac in a casserole dish, then half the cheese; repeat.
Pour over the top 3/4 C milk.
Salt/pepper if desired.
Bake at 350 for 44-60 min. I usually cover the first half, then uncover for crisping the last half.

If you're feeling ambitious, mince some onion and spread between the layers.
If you like lots of crispy, bake in a metal pan and put the first half of cheese right into the bottom of the pan, then all the mac, then the other half of cheese on top -- crispy on both top and bottom.