Ma-in-law’s Macaroni and Cheese

It is clear that my holiday time out from blogging is officially overextended when I’m pinged on FB chat and asked why I have not been posting. (Thank you Shilpa, I clearly needed that.) So I’m clambering back on the blog wagon after an overly enjoyable and extended holiday break  that started with Thanksgiving and forgot to end until the last of many inches of snow melted. Yes, Atlanta experienced its once in a decade Snoh my God! The city simply froze in shock for a Biblical seven days. We’re just about getting done with the thawing out.

So to pick up where I left off I’m going back to Thanksgiving week, when Sammie’s parents spent the week with us in Atlanta. It was quality family time and good food time so we simply had to have her mac ‘n’ cheese. It is pure, creamy, cheesy comfort. We did have a moment when Sammie waltzed in from the grocery store with black wax cheddar which was not on the grocery list his mother had given him. He announced confidently that it would be great in the mac ‘n’ cheese. He doesn’t cook so of course ma-in-law and I eyed each other doubtfully. It’s a rich, sharp cheddar so we went with it and of course it rocked. Glad I had the presence of mind to grab some pictures. It is a simple recipe and I watched her every step of the way but I have the oddest feeling it will not taste quite the same if I try to make it. What is it with Mothers’ and grandmother’s recipes that makes it so hard to get them just right? Maybe the taste comes from years of practice and not the ingredients or the method. I’m giving myself about twenty years.

Prep time: 5 min | Total time: 50 minutes | Servings: 4 – 6

Black Wax Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese (by Sherlyn Rice)

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A short trip from “Eww! Is this new?” to “Ooh! My fave Three-Cheese Macaroni”

Sammie will correctly describe himself as someone who doesn’t like to try variations on his favorite foods. Me he will describe as constantly trying stuff out and it seems to work out just perfectly. All it takes is getting Sammie to try something once and maybe twice and if it strikes the right note the new dish or variation moves at lightning speed from “new and suspect” to his ‘favorite foods” list. It happens so fast he usually has no recollection of it ever having been new.

He protested strongly if I ever tried to stray too far from his Mom’s tried and tested Mac n’ Cheese recipe. The day I decided to go for it anyway, Mom called and just before he hung up he threw in a little complaint about me trying to make “some crazy three cheese stuff” and it turned out that my ma-in-law is a fan of the three cheese and was making some herself for dinner that night. So all bets were off and yes, it is now firmly under favorite foods.

Prep time: 5 min | Total time: 40 minutes | Servings: 4

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Today’s-Special Shrimp Biriyani

The first time I introduced Sammie to a hard-core South Indian dish was back in late 2003. It’s a simple fiery shrimp masala (Yera Varaval in Tamil) that’s a favorite with my family and extended family. My mom, aunt Leela and my sister rock this dish with their own particular ways of making it. I introduced it to Sammie who by then was bragging about his increased tolerance for spicy food and his widening appreciation and knowledge of Indian food. He pooh poohed my advice to eat the shrimp masala in moderation and to eat it along with rice, vegetables and Sambar (lentil based curry) to balance the heat. He spooned the shrimp into his eager mouth, straight! He thought it was awesome and kept reminding me he was awesome as he wolfed it down. Let’s just say that he wasn’t feeling as awesome during the aftermath. I soothed the poor darling and agreed it was definitely my over spiced dish and not that he ate it like it was ice cream while claiming to know how to eat Indian food. Don’t worry his awesomeness is never going to actually read this. He looks at the picture and tells me he’s so happy he’s the one eating the food in the pictures.

Well, since the “Shrimp masala” incident when he heard the words shrimp and Indian he was on the phone ordering take out, he refused to touch my coconut shrimp curry which was really on the sweet side. We finally had a break through a few months ago when I made Shrimp Biriyani. He hemmed and hawed about ordering pizza as a back up. But considering his fondness for lamb and chicken Biriyani  and the aroma, he decided to give it a go. When I went back for seconds it was gone, every last grain of rice, every curled and browned shrimp had been carefully scooped onto his eager plate. I’m delighted he is finally cured him of ‘Indian shrimp’ phobia. He still won’t hear of trying Shrimp Masala which is one of my top ten favorites. Maybe some day we’ll get there. Meanwhile here’s the Shrimp Biriyani recipe.

Prep time: 30 min | Total time: 1 hr | Servings: 4 | Sammie scores it 8.5/10

Shrimp Biriyani (Jay)

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