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Macaroni and cheese is good comfort food

I have a bad case of homesickness right now. Actually, not so much homesickness as much as missing my grandkids. This grandma is mighty lonesome for those two little boys.
   I saw them back in June when Sam was born, and it's going to be a while before I see them again. I don't know how I'm going to make it.
   They've all been sick the past three weeks with a couple of different viruses, One week, all four of them came down with a nasty stomach virus at the same time, so things were pretty unpleasant around their house.
   They've been to the doctor I don't know how many times, with one emergency room visit. Not much sleep, missed days of work, missed days of school. And here I am healthy as a horse but 2,000 miles away. It was all I could do to keep from jumping on an airplane and going out there.
   It doesn't matter that my son, Lee, will be 30 years old this year - he's still my baby. Then when my grandkids get sick, especially 6-month-old Sam, well, it's just too much for me to take. I want to be back there with them, taking care of them, fussing over them.
   It's probably a good thing I live in Oregon and they live in Arkansas. I'd probably mother them to death.
   When I was out there last June, I made my oldest grandson, Jake, Octopus with Macaroni and Cheese one day for lunch. No, not real octopus.
   The octopus was actually a hot dog. I cut the hot dog lengthwise into strips (for tentacles), stopping the cuts about an inch from one end. That was the head. Then I poked two eyes in the head, and cooked the hot dog in boiling water. As the hot dog cooks, the tentacles curl up and make funny shapes.
   Then I set the octopus on top of a bowl of macaroni and cheese, spreading the tentacles out. It was pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.
   Macaroni and Cheese is good comfort food even when you're not sick. I first made this recipe probably 25 years ago. Lee's dad loved macaroni and cheese, so I served it often. He really liked it made with Velveeta cheese and with corn kernels added to the macaroni.
   On a completely different subject, I want to remind you about the Taste of Home Cooking School next week, Feb. 22, at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo. Tickets are on sale now. Call The Mountain radio station for info, 382-5263.
   I'll be helping out on stage again this year, Yes, even after my experiences last year, they want me back. I guess Sunnie Renshaw has forgotten about the sour cream I didn't put out for her and that I couldn't operate her can opener and that I couldn't get the stove to turn on. I'll try not to remind her next Tuesday.
   Sharon Vail lives in Powell Butte. She hopes to see lots of people from Crook County at the Cooking School. Readers may contact here at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . "Cooking from the heart of Oregon"
   Macaroni and Cheese
   Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
   1/4 cup butter
   1/4 cup all-purpose flour
   1/2 teaspoon salt
   3 cups milk
   1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
   8 ounces elbow macaroni
   1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
   bread crumbs (optional)
   Melt butter in a large saucepan. Blend in flour and salt, and cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened. Add & cup grated cheese and stir until melted.
   Cook macaroni according to package directions until tender. Drain. Add to cheese sauce and mix well. Turn into 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle top with 1& cups shredded cheese. Top with bread crumbs, if using.
   Bake at 375 degrees about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
   Makes 4-6 servings
   Cook's note - If you want to skip the baking, add all the cheese to the sauce and serve it right from the pan. This does work well with Velveeta cheese, if you're so inclined. Octopus is optional.