Sunday, April 06, 2008

Comfort foods

When I was a kid, one of my most favorite things to eat was Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the dark blue box. You cooked the macaroni, added some milk and margarine and the little packet of powdered 'cheese'and voila! Add a little salt and lots of pepper and it was delicious. (Still is, if I'm being honest.) My dad never wanted to believe that I loved the stuff so much, I mean... it only cost 49 cents for the whole box! He tried to convince me that the more expensive box, the 'creamier' version with the little package of cheez-whiz-like-stuff, must be better. I'd have none of it.

There's probably nothing better than homemade mac and cheese, and the way my mom made it was delicicous, but dad could never quite master the recipe, for whatever reason. So I guess that's partly why I liked the stuff in the box so well. Dad would try to dress it up with hot dogs or canned tomatoes, to make it seem more like something 'worth' eating, but no amount of improvisation beat the stuff straight out of the box for me.

Well! I found a recipe that I love. It's simple enough, but grown up with Gruyere cheese and extra-sharp cheddar, nearly a pound of cheese, and a quart of whole milk. Yummy! I add some vine-ripened tomatoes on top with fresh bread crumbs and it's sinfully delicious, but certainly not low-fat. But, who cares, right? Comfort food, pure and simple. Plus, the recipe makes enough for a week's worth of lunches.

Any favorites from your childhood? SpaghettiOs? Cinnamon toast? Hamburger Helper? Have you managed to improve upon them as a grown-up?

;-)

16 comments:

egretsnest said...

I love Kraft Mac & Cheese in the box. It's one of my biggest parenting disappointments that neither of my kids like it. Some idiot introduced them to frozen mac and cheese and then that was it. In fact, Ruthie would only eat a certain brand of frozen stuff. She could tell without seeing it if it was the red box or the blue box and woe be unto he who served the blue box.

I have a GREAT homemade Mac and Cheese recipe -- I adore it. My husband barely tolerates it and my kids won't eat it. It is my mom's recipe and it's fantastic. Heartbreaking. Same with my lasagna -- although Ruthie loves that and it's the boys who barely tolerate it. Sigh.

I could go for some Kraft Mac and Cheese and some tomato soup right now -- Campbell's, of course!

DK & The Fluffies said...

Oh I just love a good Mac & Cheese!

LauraHinNJ said...

Liza: I forgot all about Campbell's tomato soup! Though I improve it with evaporated (or is it condensed?) milk. Perfect with grilled cheese.

bunnygirl said...

Grilled cheese sandwich is my comfort food of choice. Every now and then I'll get a hankering to go to a diner and have one, with tater tots!

My mom made a good grilled cheese and I can certainly do it myself, but nothing brings back the memories of long family car trips like grilled cheese at a diner! :-)

MojoMan said...

There's something cute and sad at the same time about the image of your father doing the best he could that you have painted for me. He was quite a guy.

I have forwarded this post to the food police. No one in America does enough exercise to justify eating the mac and cheese from your recipe.

I think I derived about half of my college-years sustenance from Kraft Mac and cheese, but PBJ was even more essential and I still love it. Of course these days, natural peanut butter (without the vegetable grease) and whole wheat bread have replaced the Jiffy and Wonder bread.

Lynne said...

Campbell's tomato soup made with whole milk, with TONS of soda crackers crunched up in it.
Or, Campbell's mushroom soup with elbow macaroni in it.
One of these two were lunch every Saturday.

Beth said...

Peanut butter and jelly on toast. Put the peanut butter on while it's hot and it melts out the side. Yummy!

KGMom said...

This is weird, but I have no comfort food memories. The closest thing would be egg custard--which my mother would make after I had been sick.
Of course your macaroni/cheese tastes good--in addition to the whole milk & the cheese, which you mentioned, there's all that butter--which you didn't.

Ruth said...

That recipe makes my mouth water. Fat is so delicious! My mother used to cut buttered toast in cubes and put a poached egg on top. If I have had a tough day, or am not feeling well, that is what I make. If my husband sees me make a poached egg he asks what's wrong.

Mary said...

Kraft Mac & Cheese in the dark blue box IS COMFORT. I add shredded cheddar to make it CHEESIER. The recipes for Mac and Cheese I've tried in the past with crumbled sausage in the oven was good but you can't beat the box.

More comfort food for me: mashed potatoes with real butter, milk, parsley, salt - then pouring southern gravy into the volcano.

mmmmm..

Great post, Laura. I can tell you lovin' your comfort food, too :o)

Rabbits' Guy said...

It's called Pasta A La Vodka ... and it's just really very fancy grown ups mac 'n cheese .... and it has a tomato sauce in it as well ... yummmm!

LauraHinNJ said...

Bunnygirl: Ohhh tater tots! Don't think I've had them since HS.

Mojoman: You're too sweet. Everyone else missed that.

:-)

My dad made a fabulous tomato sauce - dressed up from a jar - someday I'll figure out what he did to make it taste so nice!

I've never been a PBJ person; in my day kids ate PB with Fluffer-Nutter - gross!

Lynne: Mushroom soup with elbow macaroni? Hmm.

Beth: That sounds nice except for the jelly part. Maybe bananas instead?

KGMom: I'd said it wasn't low-fat! Besides, it's only 1 stick of butter.

;-)

Ruth: Ha! I think of ice-cream as a comfort food too, so anything with eggs sounds awfully healthy to me!

Mary: Gosh... I love mashed potatoes too. You all are making me hungry!

Rabbit's Guy: Sounds sort of nice.

John said...

Baked potato with butter and salt is the closest thing I have to a comfort food. (Really - I have planned meals around it.) Generally, anything involving one of potato, melted cheese, or chocolate will serve the comfort food function, depending on whether I am looking for a meal or a snack.

Oddly enough, I have never been a fan of macaroni and cheese.

TaraDharma said...

oh laura, that looks and sounds deeeeelcious. Anything with Gruyere cheese is tops in my book. I lost a tooth once eating Kraft's when I was 5. Never was the same after that.

Like the fly in my cream of mushroom soup...spoiled that for me, too.

oh well.

Cathy said...

What a great post. Reading it and the comments has me craving cheese, butter and starch and chopped tomtoes.

Life is good.

dguzman said...

I like the Kraft version (generics are just gross), but one time I thought it would taste EVEN BETTER if I put TWO packets of the powder cheese in it!

You know what? I was wrong. They must've done extensive testing on the amt of powder cheese or something, because any more is too much and any less is not enough.

Em can eat an entire box in one sitting.