One of my earliest memories is standing on tip-toes, and being able to see over the kitchen table. Ellie at Kitchen Wench has asked for the recipe and the memory of a food that invokes a feeling of nostalgia, so you get my kitchen table and macaroni cheese.
I'm Australian like Ellie, but I was born in Canada. We moved to Australia when I was 7 or 8, and the table came with us. Nowadays it lives in my aunts beach house with all the other family furniture cast-offs, and I'm on the other side of the country. I think macaroni cheese is one of the few remnants of my North American childhood. It was the first thing I thought of when somebody explained the concept of comfort food. Back then it probably came in a blue box, and was served with carrot sticks. These days I make it from scratch, with lots of healthy vegetables and a recipe from a well-worn Women's Weekly recipe book. I only use the recipe book as moral support while I make the white sauce - for some reason it hasn't turned out well for me since we came to Canberra. And I don't really measure any of it.
Macaroni Cheese with Veggies
Cook the macaroni. While it's cooking, chop up half a red capsicum, a small red onion, a yellow UFO squash and any other random vegetables. The aim is a variety of colours. Make a basic white sauce by melting some butter in a saucepan, then adding a couple of tablespoons of flour and a couple of teaspoons of mustard powder. Don't let it brown. Slowly add around a cup and a half of milk (I use skim), checking to make sure it's thoroughly mixed and no lumps are forming. Stir over a low heat until it thickens slightly. Add some grated cheese, the sharper the better, then remove from the heat. Throw the macaroni, sauce, vegetables and a cup or so of frozen peas into a casserole dish. Heat in the oven until it's a bit brown and bubbly on top. Adding breadcrumbs, extra cheese or crumbled crackers to the top is strictly optional.
Enjoy with carrot sticks, or left over homemade pizza.