On Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, we head into a season of reflection and a lot of meatless Friday dinners because as Catholics we give up eating meat every Friday from Ash Wednesday through Easter. After being sick all week, my 18-year-old collegiate daughter called and asked me for Grandma Bayer’s Mac and Cheese recipe. She just had to have it! I have to say that of all the recipes I have made over the years (sooo, soooo many recipes), this is THE ONE I have made more times than ANY OTHER. I have doubled, tripled, quadrupled and multiplied this recipe so many times to feed so many people I can barely remember the calculations. This recipe has carried me through dinner parties, graduation open houses, family dinners, swim and dive spreads, and countless burger nights with groups of parents and kids at our cottage. It is THE MOST OFTEN made, MOST REQUESTED, and MOST LOVED recipe that I have EVER made. This is the recipe that my mother-in-law made for my husband throughout his entire childhood and it is what he looked forward to during many family dinners and after many football practices. It is the definition of comfort food at our house.
This time, I explained to my daughter that mac and cheese is a recipe of few ingredients – butter, milk, cheese, flour, and noodles. My mother-in-law, Joan Bayer, taught me that the trick to making this recipe memorable is the cheese – she ALWAYS used Pinconning Cheddar. Over the years it has been hard to find and, since her passing, our local grocery has gone from always carrying it, to never having it in stock, and then, bringing it back again. The only time I compromise the quality of the cheese in this recipe is when I have to make the recipe for 40 or more people. This recipe has been served at my table so MANY TIMES with so many people – IT ABSOLUTELY HAS TO BE SHARED.
As for Grandma Bayer’s amazing Mac and Cheese recipe…please make it often and share it with as many as possible – Joan would not want it any other way.