Living in Great Big Bites

Rear: Elaine, Me in My So-Happy-I’m-Goofy Face, Rich
Front: Cadence, Sawyer, Vaite, Rob

The Best Kind of Crazy
“How, exactly do those French women stay so slim?” I ask my niece, Vaite, over dinner one evening. With her fork she nudges about four bites of homemade macaroni and cheese into a tiny heap on her plate.

“They eat this much,” she replies, motioning to the set-aside mac and cheese.

“So do they fill up on vegetables, fruits?”

“No. They just eat very little.”

“I’d starve!”

“I know, right?” She smiles at me.

We’ve been feasting on fellowship around here, this month. Our schedule for just the first week of July would have put a campaigning politician to shame. You think three separate friends-and-family meals are enough for a week? Ha! We squeezed in five of those between Tuesday and Saturday–along with a boat excursion, a visit to the zoo, an overnight jaunt to San Diego, fireworks displays and a leisurely Fourth-of-July breakfast at one of my favorite San Diego restaurants.

Vaite has flown back to Tahiti; son-in-law Rob is back on duty at Pearl Harbor, and daughter Elaine will join him next week. The family feasting is drawing to a close. We’ll push ourselves back from the groaning board of togetherness, loosen our belts, and sigh.

Usually I nibble my way through the big moments in life as if they were some French fashion plate’s macaroni and cheese. This month, though, they’ve been piled high as the buffet in some Vegas casino, inviting me back to sample even more of their hearty goodness.

Contemplative by nature, I’m accustomed to more time between meals. With all the visiting and merriment, it’s challenging to digest everything, to make room to fully enjoy the next course. I feel like a fortunate chipmunk who’s stumbled upon a rich vein of nuts and overstuffed my cheeks. I’ve been gorging, yes, gorging, on the presence of usually far-away family. If love clogged arteries, I’d be dead by now. 

I don’t care for jello, but time with loved ones is a lot like it: There’s always room for more. 

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NASB)

Edited to add: I can share that macaroni and cheese recipe. If you’d like it, please let me know.

Edited again to add the recipe:

1 lb. elbow macaroni (or your favorite shape)
½ cup butter
½ onion, diced
½ cup flour
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon  pepper
¾  lb. cheese, shredded (I use sharp cheddar)
2 tablespoons Italian style bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375◦.
2. Grease a large baking dish and set it aside (I use a 9 x 13 pyrex pan).
3. Boil water and cook the macaroni as directed  until done, but still firm.
4. While the macaroni cooks, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add diced onions and sauté. Reduce heat to medium. Add flour and stir until smooth and bubbly. (You’ve just made a roux, which can be used to make all kinds of sauces.) Slowly stir in the milk. Cook over medium to medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens slightly and gets foamy. Stir in salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low.
5. Set aside one cup of the shredded cheese in a mixing bowl. Stir the rest of the cheese into the sauce, stirring to melt it. Patience in this step will greatly benefit the consistency of your finished sauce.
6. Drain the macaroni well and return it to the pot you cooked it in. Pour the sauce into the pot and stir it into the macaroni.  Pour the macaroni and sauce into the prepared baking dish.
7. Add the breadcrumbs to the cup of shredded cheese you set aside. Stir to blend. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Sprinkle paprika on top.
8. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly with a nice melted crust on top.

You can add sliced mushrooms, drained tuna, chunks of ham, broccoli florets, or anything else that sounds good to you  when you stir the macaroni and sauce together in step six.

I’m linking up with Ann Kroeker for Food on Fridays. Won’t you stop by for a quick bite of reading goodness?