Sweet Potato Casserole and Mac and Cheese

Detailed recipe notes from my Mom

I love Thanksgiving and I had a really nice one. I spent it with my friends Kenn, Matty, Christian, and Cole. We each made different things that made Thanksgiving feel like Thanksgiving. I made my Mom’s sweet potato casserole and my Grandmother’s mac and cheese and to my surprise, they were pretty good. I cook at home a lot but never anything more than boiling pasta and grilling things on my George Foreman (and microwaving cookies).

Making these two major Thanksgiving sides seemed easy enough until I made my trip to the grocery store to buy every ingredient I didn’t already have (which was all of them). Suddenly the very notion of whipping things up in bowls, adding sugar, eggs, milk, CHOPPED PECANS?!…. all seemed terrifying and daunting.

It also didn’t help that I had no mixing bowls or any form of cookware whatsoever. The disposable, aluminum things from Food Emporium were passable in place of a casserole dish, like a matinee Evita on a national tour in Detroit that didn’t have a star in the part to begin with…. but when it came time for mixing, I ran into more major problems. Like how to stir things when I had nothing to stir them in. I found what appeared to be someone’s rice maker underneath the cabinet and took it apart, inside there was a square object with a deep base that could serve as a mixing bowl….. in this same cabinet was a pitcher, perfect.

After a daunting two hours I was pretty impressed with my work. The kitchen was a mess but both items looked like they were supposed to. More importantly, at one single bite, both items took me back to sitting with a full plate on my lap on my mom’s red rug in the den that we’d had since we moved into our house in 1991, with stains and hard spots married into it from years of spilt chicken noodle soup, spagehtti, milk….. surrounded by my cousins, with whatever played after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade…. the dog show or TBS’ early shooter showing of “A Christmas Story”…. gobbling each bite as fast as I could and running into the dining room for more.

I missed my family a lot this Thanksgiving. I missed how we used to spend it. Nowadays, my Mom and Dad aren’t in town for the holiday, my sister and her boyfriend take my niece over to my Aunt and Uncle’s house, and there’s no leftover dressing to eat from my Mom’s refridgerator for a week after. Like so many things, and the subject of so many blogs I write, things change and it’s spooky.

But even sitting at Kenn and Matty’s on the Upper East Side, with my cast of wacky friends as far from the cousins and family that used to surround me on the red rug, one bite of my Mom’s casserole or my Grandmother’s mac and cheese was like an edible DeLorean…. whisking me back…. like Thanksgiving ought to do.

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5 Comments on “Sweet Potato Casserole and Mac and Cheese”

  1. Rob Says:

    I love this! I wish my Thanksgiving had went as well. Your an excelent writing and i enjoy reading your things. That’s all…

  2. Eric Gilliland Says:

    Love “edible DeLorean.”

    Question “split chicken noodle soup.”

  3. Andy J. Says:

    spilt. not split. i thought that at first, too.

  4. jefferyself Says:

    I corrected myself. I DID write split at first and I’m not sure what that would mean either. Sounds tasty though.

  5. Donald Says:

    The memories of growing up and sharing Thanksgiving with your family is what makes the holiday everyone’s favorite. That family changes as you age, but the memories remain, and pile on top of one another.

    Just wait another 20 years Jeffery. You’ll have “Back to the Future” one, two and three all piled together.

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