My great-grandmother raised three children during the Depression, so certain items either weren’t available or weren’t purchased.
But uncooked pasta always has been a staple item in kitchens in my family.
When grocery stores have their large sales, it is not uncommon to find dried pasta for as little as 33 cents per package.
While goulash was a much more common meal — after all, it only requires some vegetables to become a meal — there was macaroni and cheese on special occasions.
This recipe is mother-approved and has stood the test of time. It also can be altered easily by adding additional ingredients, such as jalapeño or bacon, or by using different cheeses, such as pepper jack or Swiss.
Cook 1 to 1 1/2 cups of macaroni in boiling, salted water for the recommended time on the package.
It is fine to under-cook the pasta a bit because it also will be put in the oven to finish cooking.
Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse it with cool water to stop the cooking process.
In a pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter or Oleo — butter tastes better, but Oleo was cheaper when times were tough for my great-grandmother.
Add 2 tablespoons of flour and blend. This mixture will need to cook for just a little while, to cook the flour taste out of the mixture.
Add 3 cups of milk and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Cook until slightly thick, stirring constantly — this can be done at a lower temperature so as to prevent burning.
Add 1 cup or more of American cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted completely.
Add the macaroni to a sauce pan and stir it until coated with the cheese sauce. If the macaroni seems too dry, add a little more milk.
Pour it into a buttered casserole dish and sprinkle it with paprika.
Bake at 350 degrees until light brown. The macaroni should take about 45 minutes to an hour to finish cooking.