I love having friends round to lunch.
I take great delight in setting my table. I have unusual placemats. Each one is made of a different kind of material. They are catch-your-breath unique and beautiful. I have marvellous plates from Wonki Ware in shades of blue and white. Recently I bought stunning Carrol Boyes glasses which are almost turquoise in colour. They somehow make your drink seem slightly magical! These are all offset by my red and white spotted serviettes. My table looks a cheery, happy place!
And what do I serve? In winter, the butternut soup from Woolworths is a firm favourite. Recently I invited my friend, Jan, around to lunch and her remark was: “Thank you, Gaynor. What are you serving? Butternut soup!”
I realised that my usual butternut soup had had it’s day!
I am an incredibly “mean” mince maker! Seriously, my spaghetti bolognese without the spaghetti is out of this world. It has tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, garlic and courgettes in it which together with the Gaynor-spicing, make it an ambrosial heaven! I served it to Jan with a wonderful salad from Woolworths and Jan had two helpings! Of my mince not the salad. Or maybe she had an extra helping of salad too, I forget. The fact of the matter, is that Jan simply loved my spaghetti bolognese without the spaghetti!
My meal was a hit!
I then went round for two meals at Jan’s. So – it was my turn to reciprocate! Oh glory be, what to serve now? There was only one answer: Mum’s macaroni cheese. I have tasted macaroni cheese all over South Africa but none quite matches up to her idyllic meal. It just has something about it that is different. It makes the tasting quite an enchanting experience.
At 7.30 in the morning, I rang Mum. This sleepy voice answered.
“Hi there, Mums…um…did I wake you?”
“I was dozing over my coffee,” she answered.
“Well, Mums, I was wondering if you perhaps have one of your macaroni cheese’s in the deep freeze. Jan is coming round to lunch and I wondered if you could…er…spare one?”
“I’m afraid I I don’t, love. Sorry,” was her response.
Damn and blast! Okay, I could get one of my Woolworths macaroni cheeses out of my deep freeze. I could add tomato and…yeah, a touch of cream. Maybe I could fill Jan up with wine first. T’would dull her tasting senses a tad! At eleven o’clock my bell rang. I answered the door to my Mother. In her hands, smiling up at me in utter delectable-ness was her macaroni cheese.
“I dreaded to think what you would concoct for Jan. Heat it at 180 degrees for fifteen minutes.”
Jan and I finished the macaroni cheese at lunch. Not a scrap was left.
That is the kind of Mother that I have.
Whenever it is my turn to make dinner for the ten people in our Bible study group, Mum springs into action. Gorgeous pizza, quiches and wonderful oogley soup, which is a rapturous experience!!! I am quite prepared to order in pizza, buy quiches and wonderful butternut soup from Woolworths!
“Why spend money, when I can make it!” is Mum’s response.
Whereas other people have caterers, I have Mum!
Whenever I write a blog, I always wish to leave my reader with something. Today I want to leave you with Mum’s recipe for macaroni cheese. She said to me: “Gaynor, there is nothing special about this macaroni cheese recipe!”
I beg to differ. I know. I have eaten it time and time again. I have never tasted another quite like it!
She makes a white sauce and then throws in lots of cheese, a tin of tomatoes, mushrooms, mustard and sometimes bacon. She mixes this over cooked macaroni and adds her own little sprinkling of spices. Mum then places this sloppy mixture in a bowl with cheese and breadcrumbs covering the top and bakes it at 180 degrees for fifteen minutes
Maybe Mum just gives it that special something that makes it unique. Or maybe you too will experience the delight I discover in that dish every time it passes my lips.
I also marvel at the big heartedness of mothers.
Of this ‘Mums’ in particular.