IN THEIR OWN WORDS:

I’m Mariana

…and all I want is a good meal on the table.

Mariana, Polish gypsy

Mariana, Polish gypsy

And some strong men sitting there swallowing it down. The food people eat in these United States comes from all around the world. I like that! So I cook the Eye-tal-yun noodles with red gravy and the German sausage and stinky kraut and even those meat and bean rolls with the hot peppers from that land way, way to the south. Cooking makes me happy.

Here’s a recipe I thought up to use up those odds and ends of cheese I have in the icebox. The boys like it with the short, curly Eye-tal-yun noodles, but you can use any shape you want. The Eye-tal-yuns call their noodles macaroni and have a different shape for every day of the month.

Mariana’s Macaroni and Cheese

Cook one pound of whatever shape of macaroni you like.

Grate about three cups of cheese. Clean out your icebox. You can use stinky cheese, soft cheese, bleu cheese (it looks rotten but the blue parts are what make it good), farmer’s cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese. Mix it all up. The crazier the better.

Now make a white sauce. Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a pan. Whisk in 1/4 cup of flour and cook one minute. Take the pan off the stove and add two cups of milk. Keep stirring or it’ll get lumpy and everybody will be spitting out the pasty pieces. Bring the sauce to a bubble and boil for one minute.

You can put the cheese in the sauce and melt it down or just mix everything up in a long, shallow pan. Put the pan in the oven side of your stove and cook it until it gets bubbly around the edges. About a half hour should do it.

This is real good with the weeds I pick alongside the road–dandelion greens, chicory. Chop in some cucumber and tomatoes. Shave in some red onion. Little vinegar, little olive oil–another Eye-tal-yun favorite. Real good.

Here’s a recipe my mother gave me before I left Poland.

Potato Pancakes

Go in your garden and dig out eight big potatoes. Wash them and dig out the eyes. You don’t have to peel them. Grate them into a big bowl. Some people get the water out by spreading the potatoes on towels and squeezing them, but I don’t bother.

Grate a large onion into that same bowl. Add some flour and bread crumbs. Some salt and pepper. Crack in an egg. Add some mustard. It can be plain yellow or that coarse kind the Germans like or even that fancy Frenchy one with the wine in it. I don’t care what you use.

If you have Worcestershire sauce from England, squirt some in. Mix it all up.

Now heat up a big skillet. I like to use my iron one. Put some oil in the pan.

Take a spoonful of potato mix and spread it in the skillet so it looks like a little pancake. Spread as many little pancakes as you can fit in there. It’s that simple. Fry it golden brown on one side then flip it over and fry the other side the same way.

Take the pancakes out and lay them on some paper to absorb the oil. Keep the pancakes warm. Whatever else you want to serve is up to you. Oh, and these taste real good with beer.

If you’re fussy about measurements try these:

8 large potatoes
1 large onion
1 egg
¼ cup flour
¼ cup bread crumbs
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 T mustard
1-2 T Worcestershire sauce

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