I always take out the pot and start the water boiling. I salt the water generously and put the burner on high. Once the water is at a hearty bubble, I throw in the noodles (only spiral or character shaped - NO elbows for us) and turn down the heat. After soft to the bite, the water gets drained and in go milk (an extra splash for good measure), faux margarine (the extra healthy, no trans-fat, no hydrogenated, plus omega 3s, plus flax seed crap), and cheese packet. Mix it up and then comes the best part: my test bite. Every time I make Tom's m and c I get one spoonful of cheesy, milky, piping hot noodles. You know, to make sure I made it right.
I gave up eating macaroni and cheese pretty much at birth. An adolescence of dance equals an adolescence of weight worries - so I always abstained from those "fattening" dishes - like macaroni and cheese. Plus, as a kid we never really had box mac and cheese at the house. When Tom and I were in high school and a mutual friend of ours invited us rappelling, Tom told me he would bring lunch for us. We had spent many late night conversations discussing all of the things we liked and disliked - and of course, this dish came up - especially because it was (and still is) one of the only things he could cook. He told me that he makes the BEST macaroni and cheese because he always pushes the noodles into the water with the bottom of the box, and he always adds a little extra milk. Once we were at the cliff, I was too scared to go down the mountain (big surprise) and so we sat in the car at the bottom of the rock face and ate his delicious macaroni and cheese cold.
We always have our pantry stocked with blue boxes - ready for making and remembering all the little reasons we fell in love.