Two Recipes for Getting Family to your Table

Posted by on Aug 2, 2013 in Kitchen Goodness | 10 comments

Preview{This summer, I’ve been part of a group of women who have been reading and discussing at (in)courage’s Bloom Book Club Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table. In July, I was privileged to share my story of life around my grandmother Mama Smith’s table on The Bloom Book Club Facebook page.

As part of the finale and a link up with others , I’m posting that original piece here today along with a bonus not included that day.  It’s a recipe for Mama Smith’s style of macaroni and cheese. But first, my story of life around her table.}


My Grandmother’s “Recipe”

My grandmother’s recipe for gathering her large family together was this: If you cook it, they will come. As a little girl growing up, Sunday dinner after church was at my grandmother’s house and the memory is delicious.  She cooked it and we showed up for it!


Hopping out of my parents’ car, I heard the laughter of cousins, aunts, and uncles from within her country place mingling with the sound of ice being scooped into glasses for holding sweet tea with a lemon wedge and fresh mint.


Within a few feet of her screen door on the porch I smelled the fragrance of Mama Smith’s fried chicken wafting along the humid South Georgia air. I confess, I was so enamored by this fragrance at times I wouldn’t wash my hands after consuming my share of fried chicken wings (that was the part of the chicken that no one had claimed as theirs).


As the screen door slapped shut, my grandmother’s welcoming hug would wrap us in her apron as she clutched us in her hands with sore thumbs (from laborious tasks like shelling, snapping, and shucking), delighted at the sight of us all.


My siblings and I worked our way to the table where food was placed awaiting the hungry swarm to descend and devour its bounty. Eyes level with the table and fingers poised for sneaking would grab bites of warm cured ham as our secret appetizers.


Mama Smith was in her element managing her small country kitchen with its simple design and far from gourmet accoutrement.


Oh, the meals and memories she conjured up with that weekly dinner following that simple recipe!


Besides her fried chicken and cured ham, she blessed her large family with fresh everything: homegrown tomatoes, butterbeans, green beans, and creamed corn. I can’t forget the macaroni and cheese, potato salad, deviled eggs, and a congealed salad. Homemade pickles, cornbread, and brown and serve rolls finished out the meal. Dessert offerings were strawberry shortcake with fresh whipped cream, coconut cake, pound cake, or chocolate layer cake.  Food from scratch was the norm, not mixes.


{I should have eaten lunch before I wrote this because I am salivating at the thought of all the goodness.}


Every dish she prepared on Sundays, and any other day for that matter, stirs up more sweet memories with a pinch of melancholy as I miss the sweet communion of family time and fresh offerings filling her table and our stomachs as we filled our hearts with laughter.


Mama Smith has been gone for some time now.  Yet, there is so much of her that is baked into my own existence as a wife, mother, and soon-to-be grandmother:

  • spreading joy while putting the spread on the table
  • getting pleasure out of the planning, picking, and preparing a meal
  • welcoming others to the hearth hub where they are sure to gather and linger and,
  • keeping that simple recipe intact will certainly keep the family time intact.


If you cook it, they will come!


My grandmother new the recipe and made sure to share it, and for that I am thankful.

Macaroni and Cheese
I don't have Mama Smith's custard style macaroni and cheese recipe, but this is a close match, minus the eggs.
Recipe type: Pasta
: American
Serves: 6
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2½ cups skim milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Sharp Cheddar or Colby cheese, divided
  • 8 ounces large elbow macaroni noodles, cooked according to package directions and drained
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Put the drained noodles into the dish. Set aside.
  3. In a large microwaveable bowl, combine first 5 ingredients. Add butter.
  4. Cover the bowl with microwave-safe plastic wrap and place in microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes.
  5. Remove and stir with a whisk. Return the milk mixture back to the microwave and cook on HIGH 3 more minutes.
  6. Remove and stir. If mixture has not begun to thicken, return to microwave for an additional 3 minutes on HIGH or longer at 1 minute increments. Stir to check progress after each minute.
  7. When the mixture is the consistency of melted ice cream, stir in 1½ cups of the cheese. Stir to melt the cheese.
  8. Pour this sauce over the noodles in the casserole dish (see second step above).
  9. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese evenly over the top of the noodles and sauce.
  10. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
Although I prefer to use large elbow macaroni noodles, they aren't always available. Regular elbow will do just fine. Or, you could use ziti noodles.


  1. That looks like a yummy recipe… grandma knows best! Thanks for sharing it with us. 🙂

    Stopping by from (in) courage today.

    • Thanks Lyli! My version of her recipe is way lower in calories, but still satisfies the longing for history in a dish. Seriously, Robin’s macaroni and cheese recipe is more in keeping with my grandmother’s…check it out! Yummy! : )

  2. Recipes and the stories that go with them – a recipe for joy!

    • Thanks Kathy! I’m glad you stopped by to share some encouragement!

  3. Amy, thank you for sharing this!! I remember sharing summers with my grandmother in Georgia… and the food memories are fresh in my mind!! You’ve made my mouth water just thinking about it!

    • So happy to have helped your palate remember! : )

  4. Oh my- the smell of freshly fried chicken! My grandmother always served hers with banana sandwiches- white bread, mayo, and sliced bananas. I can taste those creamy bananas right this minute, Amy. Thank you for helping me to remember tonight~

    • Lori,
      Thanks for sharing a sweet memory from your grandmother’s table as well. I love banana sandwiches, too!

  5. I loved (re)reading this post – and that recipe sounds delish!!!

    • Karrilee,
      Try it soon! Preparing the sauce in the microwave is a huge timesaver! I hope you’ll enjoy it.

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