Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Mac"imum Taste

(Sorry the photo's not better. I should have realized that before we ate all the salad.)

I have way too many cookbooks. Shhhhh! Don't tell my husband.

On the other hand, he probably wishes I would sometimes consult those cookbooks and make something different on occasion. Like many cooks I know, I can get stuck in a rut. When I'm in a time crunch, I tend to make something in my repertoire that doesn't require pulling a cookbook from the shelf.

Some cookbooks just sit and look pretty on the shelf. Others are true workhorses. The best ones are those from church groups or hometown organizations, mainly because they are down-to-earth, everyday recipes that don't require a trip out of town for ingredients.

One of my favorites is A Taste of Tradition, a holiday collection of recipes by the Stafford Oktoberfest Committee. It is a hometown book, but there's another reason it's a favorite: It was one of the last big projects my late mother-in-law, Marie, worked on before her untimely death.

I love the sentiment on the title page:
These recipes were contributed voluntarily by citizens and friends of the Stafford community. To exchange recipes is an age-old custom. To share a favorite recipe symbolizes friendliness and goodwill.
There are people who don't share recipes. One church lady I knew went to her grave with her homemade cheese sandwich spread recipe. The church bazaar hasn't been the same since. I doubt they need to enjoy cheese spread sandwiches in heaven, but maybe I'm wrong.

This Macaroni Salad recipe is from the cookbook. It is Margie Milton Reiling's recipe, though I've made a few changes along the way.

It made an appearance this year with meals taken to the field. I served it for both the kids' high school graduation parties. It would be a great side dish to take to a picnic. Of course, with the current temperatures, I would suggest an indoor picnic. Enjoy!
Macaroni Salad
1 lb. pkg. macaroni (use shell, rotini, elbow, whatever you have)
1 large chopped green pepper (I used colored peppers.)
1 small bunch green onion, cut up finely (original recipe called for 1 red onion)
4 shredded carrots
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup vinegar
2 cups mayonnaise (I use light Miracle Whip)
1/3 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. dried dill weed (this is my addition)
1/3 lb. sharp Cheddar cheese, cubed (original recipe uses American cheese)

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Rinse in cold water; drain. Mix sweetened condensed milk, vinegar, salt, pepper, dill weed and mayonnaise. In large bowl, mix macaroni and chopped vegetables. Pour mayonnaise mixture over macaroni mixture; mix well. Add cubed cheese; mix again. Chill at least 1 hour before serving.

If you wanted to make this into a main dish salad, you could add some cut-up grilled chicken.

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