Monday, August 19, 2013

Babba's Mac and Cheese

I was blown away by all of the wonderful comments and words of encouragement that I received after my last post.  Thank you all so much for the kind words, thoughts, and prayers.  Because I had such a huge response last time, I didn't know what to blog about next.  There is no way I can top the emotional rollercoaster of my last post, so I chose something that has been more consistent in my life.  

I was so blessed in college to have a really tight-knit group of girlfriends.  We became friends the first weekend of school during Katrina, and we have stayed friends since then.  The girl who brought me into this friend group is my dear, beautiful friend, Sarah Beth.  We have been through so much over our years together.  We have brushed our teeth together, we have camped together, we have rolled down hills together, we have laughed and cried together.  I thought it was only appropriate to post a few pics from our journey.

This is SB and me at her gorgeous wedding...well, waiting in the dressing room.  It was a fantastic night and probably the most beautiful reception I have ever been to.  A few months after SB's wedding, the girls got together for dinner, and as girls, we talked about girly stuff like significant others, work, and the conversation led to recipes.  Sarah Beth said she made her Babba's (grandmother) mac and cheese all the time.  She told me that it is a really easy, good recipe.  She gave me the recipe, and I waited...and I waited... and I waited.  I was too scared to make a recipe that someone's Babba had made!  No one can make food better than Babba.  Finally, a few weeks ago, I made it, and it is probably the most delicious thing I have ever created.  I am not exaggerating.  Matt took a few bites and finally slammed down his fork and said, "Everything else on this plate is crap and I don't want to eat it so I can eat more mac and cheese."  This is Babba's Mac and Cheese.

 Babba's Mac and Cheese

Don't be afraid!  You can do it.  Not just Babba's can make something delicious!

The star players are macaroni, cheddar, 2 eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and paprika.  That's it!  Does it get any easier?  You probably have all of these things in your kitchen waiting on you.

Firstly, you must cook your pasta according to the package directions.  Use 8oz of macaroni, which I found to be about 2 cups.

While your pasta is cooking, lightly beat your eggs.  Add 1 1/2 cups of milk to the lightly beaten eggs. 

Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper to your milk/egg mixture.

Drain your pasta and grab a 9x9 casserole dish.  Spray the dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Layer 1/3 of your noodles on the bottom of the dish

Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheddar cheese on top of the pasta

Add another 1/3 of the noodles, followed by 1/3 of the cheese

Add the last 1/3 of the noodles and RESERVE the rest of the cheese for later.

Pour your egg/milk mixture over your macaroni

Cover your delicious mixture and put it in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes.  

Remove your casserole dish from the oven and uncover it.  Now it starts getting difficult...the smell starts overwhelming the other senses, and you will become basically useless.

Cover the mac and cheese with the last 1/3 of the cheese and sprinkle the top with paprika.  Let the mac and cheese stand for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.  Honestly, I did not make it quite 10 minutes.  I found a shovel and started pouring cheese and pasta and  I think a little bit of cocaine into my mouth.  I could not stop.  Okay, that may have only happened in my fat kid brain, but sometimes I really miss that kid.  

I am honestly surprised that I got a picture of this without a fork it in it, because it really was devoured shortly after.  Matt actually said, "This is hands down the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had."  So with all of this said, I do not have to say, I hope you enjoy, because I know you will.  This is not a suggestion.  Make this recipe and enjoy!

8oz of macaroni
2 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar
1 1/2 cups of milk
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook pasta.  Layer 1/3 of the noodles in a lightly greased casserole dish.  Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.  Repeat layers.  End with the noodles.  Pour over the milk mixture.  Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.  Uncover and top with cheese and paprika.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I Was Blind, but Now I See

Usually these blog posts are easy for me to whip up.  Make something yummy.  Take a few pictures.  Tell everyone how I did it.  Done!  This is not going to be so easy.  I have shied away from talking about myself on these blogs due to the fact that I simply don't think my life is interesting enough for people to want to read about it.  But, last week an event flipped my world upside down and with so many of you praying for me, I felt it was necessary to share how God shook my world.  It is not a story about me; it is a story about what God did in my life, and I can be okay telling a story about that.

Let me set the stage.  A few weeks ago, I was at max stress level.  I am currently working on applying for a residency, studying for our National Dental Boards, writing a research abstract, and in school from 8-5.  The stress was apparent in my work.  I went a whole week with absolutely nothing going right on a single patient.  By Thursday afternoon, I did not think anything about the intense muscle pain I was experiencing over my eyes.  It hurt to move my eyes quickly, but I knew it was simply the strain that my eyes had been experiencing throughout the week.  When I woke up Friday morning, I began noticing a hazy spot obstructing part of my vision in my right eye.  It progressively got worse, so I do what I always do in situations like this.  I call my dad.  I was trying to not make a big deal of it, but the fact that he sounded more worried than I did made me nervous.  Usually when I call to tell him an ailment, he automatically tells me what it is and when it will go away.  This was new for me.

He started making calls to see if any of his ophthalmology friends could see me Friday night.  Dad was able to get in touch with his friend, Dr. Bill Ashford.  I hated being that patient that calls on a Friday afternoon to ruin the doctor's weekend, but Dr. Ashford was so kind and caring.  He examined my eyes and said he thought it was just muscle weakness and should get better over the weekend.  By Sunday, I could barely make out shapes in my right eye.  I saw Dr. Ashford on Sunday morning where he diagnosed me with Optic Neuritis.  Immediately when he said this my tongue caught in my throat and my heart dropped to my stomach.  Optic Neuritis triggered Multiple Sclerosis to pop in my head.  I asked Matt to look on his phone to see if I was right...I was.

With having so many doctors in my family, they already knew before I did that I might have multiple sclerosis.  I was the one that was slow to catch on.  This was why dad was so worried.  This is why mom kept calling hoping my vision had gotten better.  God, no!!!!  Multiple sclerosis is where plaques develop in the brain and spinal cord and prevent communication between the brain and the extremities.  With me becoming a dentist in the next year, this was devastating news.  I had my whole life planned out.  I was going to do a residency in Pediatrics next year.  Have a baby two years after that.  Move back to Jackson and start a practice.  Have another baby.  Work for 20-30 years, retire, and spend a wonderful, leisurely life with my wonderful husband.  My plans began to crumble and fall through my fingers like sand.

I was admitted to the emergency room on Sunday and the testing began.  I was told that I needed to be put on IV steroids and was going to have to stay in the hospital for the week.  I have never been so scared in my whole life.  If any of you know me, I like to be busy.  The worst part of the situation was I was lying around for 23 hours out of the day with nothing to think about except what my future held.

I looked to Matt's sweet face next to me.  I could not ask this loving man to give up so much of his life to taking care of me in the future.  I know he would do it unbegrudgingly, but he deserves better than that.

I looked to my Mom's hand who was holding mine.  She is my biggest cheerleader who had always been there to encourage me when I was called mean names or was told I was not smart enough to make it to dental school.

I looked to my Dad's sad eyes wishing he could stop this.  He was my protector who did everything he could to shield me from the pain of this world.

I looked to my brothers who were doing everything they could to lighten the mood and give me a bright outlook in this scary time.

For comfort, I pulled out my old leather Bible and searched its pages.  I came upon Mark 2, the story of Jesus healing the paralytic.  Jesus is preaching to a crowd and four men are attempting to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus for him to be healed.  They can't get through the crowd as much as they try.  They do not give up.  They take their friend up to the roof, break through the roof, and lower their friend at Jesus' feet.

I have always been the friend who will pray, who will fight, who will do anything to help a friend in need.  I have never been the paralytic.  I felt so helpless and out of control.  I have never had so many people praying for me and laying me at my Savior's feet.  I realized I never truly had control of my life...ever. Through our plans and goals, we create an illusion of having control of our lives and destiny, but God can change our lives in a heartbeat.

As the realization that I do not have control washed through my brain, the feeling of ultimate freedom replaced the fear I had been experiencing.  I became certain of several things: 1. God is in control. 2. I do not have to know all the answers. 3. Everything works for the will of my Father.

After this week of testing and waiting and learning and more waiting, I went back to my doctor to get all of my test results.  As I sat and waited for the doctor to tell me the news, I had a calm come over me.  God said "Trust me, child."  I could see my mom out of the corner of my eye, about ready to spring from her chair in anticipation.  When the doctor said, "All of your tests came back normal, so we think this is just an isolated event," I could barely believe my ears.  After many many prayers of thanksgiving, I am feeling back to normal and my vision is at 100% what it was before this episode.

I am so thankful for those of you who prayed for me and encouraged me through this.  I am proof that prayer does work and it gave me the strength to get through this ordeal.  Since we got the news, I can't keep the song It Is Well With My Soul out of my head.

"When peace like a river attendeth my way; 
When sorrows like sea billows roll; 
Whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say; 
It is well, It is well with my soul."