"The Social Network of the South"
A few months back, a friend of mine inquired about the best macaroni and cheese in town and where he could find it. His facebook post quickly drew a crowd. Seems Athenians are full of opinions when it comes to the star of potlucks, family reunions, and bbq joints. It was fun to see the chatter going on all day...some like theirs topped with bread crumbs or crackers and some would never think of such an embellishment. Many commented that they only use 'the box' recipe or rely on Stouffer's out of the grocery freezer. I grew up stirring Kraft powdered cheese, butter, milk, and elbow macaroni together regularly and only remember getting the real stuff at big family and church gatherings. I've made my own 'real' version from time to time, but I've never come up with a set-in-stone method. So when our mutual friend, Meg Dure joined the conversation and said she had a recipe she's used without fail for many years ...and she'd love to prepare one for Milton, we both jumped in with "Teach us how to make it!" And so, as any good, southern belle would do, Meg set a date, got all the ingredients, and invited us over for a macaroni and cheese makin' lesson!
Like any good recipe, the first ingredient was WINE ...well, at least it was the first ingredient in the fun we had that day. While we listened to Meg's instructions and watched her do her thing in the kitchen with her food processor and simple ingredients, Milton and I chatted away and did what we were told. While stories of 'Old Athens' flowed from Milton's always-smiling lips, we layered cooked elbow macaroni, cheddar cheese, and a mixture of eggs, milk, and pepper into greased casserole dishes. I think Milton and Meg did all the elbow work while I was busy taking in the stories and exercising my tummy with laughter! Milton Leathers is a true-blooded Athens native with enough stories to write ten volumes about the people that have made Athens the colorful town it is. I am blessed to know him and in the pictures above, you see what a sport Meg is ...to have worn the t-shirt I brought her. Good timing for a photo-op for my little pickle company! Sure, we can sign up for cooking classes at restaurants with talented chefs ...and that is great and fun and educational. But nothing compares to the lesson I got in Meg's kitchen that day. I'm convinced there is no better place to live than the south where real people share real moments and pass down real stories that would surely win Oscars if they ever got into the right hands. I learned to make the simplest mac-n-cheese and I also learned I have special friends and they think I'm special too. We shared secrets about our lives while we learned this not-so-secret recipe. You see, Meg clipped it from the food section of the Atlanta paper over a decade ago. It was a recipe from Jacqueline Sims of Virginia-Highland. Jacqueline called it 'Grandma's Mac 'n' Cheese. I will always call it 'Meg 'n Milton Casserole.'
Here's the clipping! I hope you'll cherish this recipe as much as I do...and feel free to call it 'Meg 'n Milton Casserole' when you serve it to people you care about.
And...I bet you're wondering what we did while waiting for the macaroni and cheese to bake for 50 minutes. Well, we had a little party in Meg's newly renovated boudoir of course ...with all the frills, fun, and fancy a southern girl could dream up! My wish for you, the reader ....is that you make the time to share REAL moments with REAL people. And if you need a little southern comfort, make this easy recipe!
Pinkies Up! ~Angie