A GRACE FILLED JOURNEY • Cooking With Not-So Precise Measurements


If you ask my dad about my food prejudices, he would probably be quick to tell you that I lived on hot dogs, spaghetti and macaroni and cheese when I was growing up. It's probably why he still balks at eating spaghetti with curly noodles and macaroni and cheese to this day. But they've always been my favorites.

When I moved into my first apartment during my college career, my mom hid a special notebook in my boxes where she had written some of our favorite recipes, including the recipes for spaghetti sauce and macaroni and cheese sauce.

Here's what it says for the cheese sauce, "one-inch of milk, one-inch of Velveeta and one-inch of margarine or butter. Melt all together and when hot, thicken with cornstarch. Sounds easy enough, right?

I think one of my favorite cooking stories comes from the first time I tried to make the famous cheese sauce on my own. Mom left me the recipe at home, and I carefully gathered all my ingredients, along with a standard ruler, so I could officially measure the one-inch mark. Seriously, when she came home, I was marking off one-inch of Velveeta cheese with a ruler and a knife. 

After she stopped laughing, she told me that it's more of an eyeball measurement or a guesstimate. But it still makes for one of my favorite stories.

As I continued to unpack boxes in my first apartment, I also found one of her saucepans in a box, with a note that said, "For you - my one-inch milk pan. Love ya, mom." I still have her note taped to the front of my recipe notebook, which has been well loved and well used over the years.

My mom has always been my favorite cook, and not just because she always made homemade spaghetti and macaroni and cheese for me, despite objections from my dad. Over the years, she has taught me a lot about cooking and baking, and shared some of our favorite family recipes.

I can also happily confess that I do eat more than hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and spaghetti these days, partly because my college roommate felt like I shouldn't survive on cheese pizza alone during my college days. She used to bring broccoli and other healthy choices and put them on my plate at dinner. She even provided a gold star if I tried something new. The other part is due to my husband, Kyle, who has somehow managed to expand my eating horizons as well. He's very adventurous and always willing to try new things, and encouraging me to do the same.

Hopefully that will wear off on our two-year-old, who currently lives on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that look like Elmo and macaroni and cheese. Until then, I know she'll love my mom's recipe just as much as I always have.

Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients



Margarine or Butter



Boil water and cook pasta noodles of choice (Mary likes Rotini the best).

For the cheese sauce, add one-inch of milk in the bottom of a small saucepan, one-inch of Velveeta and one-inch of margarine. Melt all together and when hot thicken with cornstarch. To do that, mix heaping tablespoon of cornstarch with water. Stir into hot cheese sauce and stir until thickened. Pour over noodles and enjoy!