The Macaroni and Cheese Pot

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We all have memories of food from our past and there are foods that bring back memories for us. I thought I would take the time to write about some of these.

The picture above is the pot that I used bringing up my kids to make their supper of macaroni and cheese. I would use Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from the box. There were often different shapes of the pasta available. This brought tears to my eyes when I saw that my daughter posted that picture and commented on her Facebook page when she used it to make mac and cheese for granddaughter. My son reminded us that dinosaurs were the premium shape. Dinosaurs were all the rage for my son at a certain age. I even have dinosaur cookie cutters! His favorite dinosaur was the Ankylosaurus. Can you name the dinosaurs below?

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march 017“If cows could, they’d give Milnot”. This is the ad for Milnot which is a “nondairy” filled milk product. It was shelf stable and used primarily for cooking and baking. Mom had this as a pantry staple as well. It was probably less expensive than brand name evaporated milk. Milnot would be whipped for “whipped cream” mostly on top of Jell-O for special occasions. Put the mixer beaters and a metal bowl in the freezer in advance. It was also a key ingredient in fudge which would be cooked up in the fudge pot. Now my daughter has the fudge pot AKA the Macaroni and Cheese pot.

I have written some posts on the recipes from my childhood including Best Ever Chocolate Cake, No Bake Chocolate Cookies (in This is Childhood), Missouri Mix, and Candied Orange Peels. And since I have my mom’s recipe notebooks, I probably make a lot of the things she did. I believe my sister has a better handle on what came out of mom’s kitchen since she got to spend more time with her. In high school the grades went on split shifts so I was in school from early in the mornings to noon-ish. Then I babysat in the evenings. My sister had the mornings home with mom and went to school in the afternoon to early evening. Poor mom, she had four kids in four different schools one year!

Growing up, our household used oleomargarine and not butter. When my younger sister was in High School and I had gone away to college, our parents located a farm nearby where they could purchase raw milk. So they bought the milk, skimmed off the cream and Mom made butter. Butter to me had a sour smell and taste. Now, of course, it tastes wonderful, but at first, not so much. I remember bringing frozen homemade butter back with me my junior and senior years at Baylor because I was living in apartments. Later as an adult when I learned that I had high cholesterol there were new products out on the market designed to reduce bad cholesterol, i.e., Smart Balance; spreads made of olive oil, flax seed, and the like. My household prefers real butter but I admit that we did frequently use “butter like substances” as they come in spreadable forms and with the idea that they are heart healthy. They are handy to take on camping trips as well. Another “fun fact” is that cookie dough made solely with butter will crack when sliced frozen. Cookie dough made with Crisco slices neatly right out of the freezer. Mom always had the store brand of “Crisco” to use for baking and frying as well. She fried chicken, beef liver, and steak!

Miracle Whip recipe
Mom’s potato salad: she used pickle relish instead of pickles

And now for Miracle Whip. This is a salad dressing that is making a comeback in the grocery market. We did not use mayonnaise growing up, it was always and only Miracle Whip. This would be spread on bread for sandwiches, dolloped on our lettuce wedges, and as a key ingredient in egg salad and potato salad. Miracle Whip was less expensive than mayonnaise and this is probably why it was a staple in our house. Mom grew up in the Great Depression and was very conscious of costs.

mayonaise 002This was also used to make mayonnaise chocolate cake. This cake recipe was developed during the WW2 when eggs and oil were scarce as they went to the war effort. Mom made this cake once in a while. I have made it with Real Mayonnaise as well but it is nothing to write home about, nor was it part of the standard dessert cooking in our home.

 

I remember Mom trying to get us to eat our Cream of Wheat for breakfast by promising a treat afterwards. The treat I remember was green grapes, but she would not tell us what it was before we finished breakfast. I did not like Cream of Wheat. Come to think of it, I don’t think I got to eat any of those grapes! I was stubborn and wouldn’t eat the hot cereal. Now I love oatmeal; I haven’t really had cream of wheat anytime lately.

Food, the stuff of nurture.

Making Fudge

In planning for all my holiday baking and candy making I went through my Mom’s recipe clipping notebooks over and over again. And I found her fudge recipe.

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Before finding this I had gone through my own recipe clipping notebooks and found the Never Fail Fudge Recipe by Eagle Brand Condensed Milk. So which should I make this fine day? I have a meat thermometer but not a candy one. My digital one is not working properly because it needs a new battery and I am very poor at replacing those itty-bitty round batteries.To my recollection Mom did not have a candy thermometer but would test the heat of the candy mixture by putting it in a cup of cold water. She successfully made fudge, divinity, fondant, and other candies with this tried and true method.

fudge 004I choose to go with the Never Fail Fudge adding my own touches:

  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup espresso flavored chips
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (I am not sure if this will enhance the chocolate flavor or add to the coffee flavor of the espresso chips)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I always wonder why vanilla extract is added to chocolate recipes.)

Melt chips with milk and salt over low heat. When melted remove from heat and stir in walnuts and vanilla.

Have your pan prepared as this “fudges” up quite quickly. You want to line your pan with foil so you can pull the set fudge out easily to cut.

My daughter has the “fudge pot” that my Mom used. I used that pot making Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (yes, from the box with the powdered cheese!) when bringing up my kids. The best part of my Mom making fudge was that we kids (there were four of us) got to scrape the pan and lick the spoon! Ahh, I did not have any little ones here so I had to refrain from scraping the pan spotless and nibbling too much!

Chill in the fridge for two hours and then there is fudge in the house!

I will leave you with one of the inspirational clippings Mom put in her notebooks. See, she speaks and teaches us even now!

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