My Family Recipe for Macaroni Cheese

From time to time, I foolishly click on a link or (even more foolishly) buy a book promising ‘quick and easy family meals’, only to find lots of fresh herbs, dozens of pans, and a requirement to focus on cooking and nothing but cooking for anything up to an hour. That is not what I call a family recipe. 
However, I do actually cook meals for my family, usually twice a day, and it rarely turns into a complete fiasco. So, I thought that I would share a real family recipe with you. I’ve chosen macaroni cheese because it is almost always a popular meal in our house.

Maybe this will encourage other parents struggling to prepare meals with children around. Please consider sharing one of your recipes with me in return 😉

  1. Turn on the TV and leave the children in front of it. Be sure to seat them as far from one another as your lounge allows.
  2. Put the kettle on – make sure it’s completely full.
  3. Find some pasta and put it in a saucepan, on the back hob. Do not turn it on yet! You will burn the pasta.
  4. Put butter in the big pan, on the front hob. Turn that hob on.
  5. Check you turned on the correct hob.
  6. Put a tea bag in a mug.
  7. Creep into the lounge as quietly as you can to check on the children. Put them back on seats far away from one another and take the remote away.
  8. When the kettle boils, make your tea first, then pour all the leftover water on top of the pasta. Now you can turn the hob on.
  9. Put frozen hot dogs on top of the pasta. Put the lid half on. Do not put the lid on properly, or the pasta will boil over.
  10. Shake some plain flour (bread flour is fine, if  you ran out of plain, but be careful with self-raising because it tastes funny) into the melted butter and mix it to make a paste.
  11. Add milk slowly to the sauce and stir. (If there is a noise in the lounge, make sure you take the lid off the pasta and the sauce off the hob before going to check, otherwise you will come back to burnt, lumpy sauce and a pasta-water swamp. Do not fool yourself that it will only take a second to sort out that worrying noise.)
  12. Season the sauce with pepper, salt and something else (paprika’s fine, nutmeg’s fine, rosemary’s fine, but don’t mix them all together). 
  13. Add peas and sweet corn to the sauce.
  14. Now is a very good moment to check back in on the children. You might even be able to drink some tea. 😊
  15. Grate some cheese and put a handful in the sauce. If you have to return to the lounge, do not leave the cheese out – someone will creep in and eat it – hide it under a tea towel.
  16. Make sure there’s nothing in the  oven. If there’s something weird in the oven, put it to one side to deal with later. If you get into that now, tea will be late and everyone will be grouchy, especially you.
  17. Turn oven on.
  18. Take the hot dogs out of the pasta and cut them up (it is worth the extra washing-up created by using a knife and a fork, since otherwise you will drop the hotdogs on the floor and the children will complain that there are fewer hotdogs than usual).
  19. Drain the pasta.
  20. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir.
  21. Add the hotdogs to the pasta and stir.
  22. Pour the pasta into the big blue dish, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top (make sure it’s roughly even, it is worth taking the time now to avoid having that ridiculous argument about who has most cheese on their pasta again).
  23. Put the blue dish in the oven and check that you really did turn the oven on earlier. 
  24. Go back into the lounge – try to remember to take your cup of tea with you. Now is a good time to follow up on that weird thing you found in the oven.
  25. Return to the kitchen and get your cup of tea.
  26. Every ten minutes or so, check the pasta to see if the cheese is crispy yet.
  27. When the cheese is crisp (not before, unless you want the children to ask how long tea will be repeatedly), ask a child to lay the table – try to remember which child you ask.
  28. Take the pasta out of the oven.
  29. Dish out Youngest’s first so it has time to cool down a bit.
  30. Check the table and ask the child to go back and lay it properly. If ask the wrong child to fix the table, that is because you are encouraging a sense of teamwork.
  31. Dish out the rest of the plates and take the plates through.
  32. The meal is cooked. Huzzah!

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