Friday, February 11, 2011

A Dear Friend and Macaroni & Cheese

We have this wonderful friend, Becca, who lives nearby and walks/bikes by on her way to work.  Sometimes, I snag her off the sidewalk - her all scarves, sweaters, gloves and fuzzy boots - for a warming cup of tea.

I'd like to make a note here that, in being a "walker" here in Montana, you have to be OK with being cold.  Occasionally very cold.  She never complains; I love this gal.  She has fortitude.

Anyways, today her walk turned into being accosted with a dark chocolate truffle (which I thought would surely make her walk more enjoyable), then helping fill a wheelbarrow with wood, then tea, then playing with wild tiny children, helping with dinner and dishes and OH, she's wonderful.  Lovely guest.

We had homemade mac 'n cheese and homegrown & pickled beets.

You don't eat pickled beets with noodles?


Maybe it's a "my grandma" thing.  Which is fine, I love family-specific traditions.

When I was growing up, my grandma lived with us for nearly eleven years.  She taught me how to make many things from scratch, starting at three or four years old.  I miss my grandma.  With her I ate many things, but my favorite (other than homemade, single-apple-spoil-your-granddaughter-sauce on hot, buttered, homemade toast) was when we'd eat this mac 'n cheese with pickled beets on the side.  I don't know how this got started, but I do know that she raised three children through the Great Depression, alone (she was widowed in 1928) I'm betting it was cheap dinner.

We make it by first making a rue, adding milk, then a pile of white sharp cheddar cheese, then a teaspoon of horseradish sauce (trust me, it does good things; this is from a different grandma - picked up along the way), then salt and pepper to taste.

Try it, it really is simple and tasty.

Back to the beets, they are slightly sweet, acid, and refreshing with the thick, gooey-ness of the noodles.  Plus, these were canned by my mama last fall, after we pulled their fat little selves from our beds in a frenzy (the soil would freeze soon).  Bulls Blood Beets.  They're so sweet and lovely to eat, plus their greens have excellent flavor and can be harvested as the root grows.

I am learning that some of my favorite times surround sharing food with family and friends.  Having people in the kitchen, all chipping in here and there, talking, learning,'s good stuff.  I'm considering making a point in having people over at least once a month, just to share food and community.

Note about tea:  It amazes me how many people accept a cup and a chat if you offer.  I am now carrying several blends.  I don't even own a tea pot, but they come, they sit and relax a bit.  It must be the steam and warm hands...or maybe there are more people waiting for me to reach out to them kindly than I realized.