Living in Appalachia back in the day often meant a lack of food, or at the very least, a lack of variety. With grocery stores, a long distance away, and (most likely) a tight grocery budget, being creative was essential to ensuring that you did not eat the same thing every meal, and you left nothing to waste. Or by cooking in ways to prepare meals from left-overs and using different ingredients to “mix it up” a bit. It also meant that you had to make do with what you had in the pantry or food cupboard.

Daily life was made up of long hard hours in the mines, the mill, or the fields, with long hours of household chores still to do at the end of the day. Most people didn’t have a lot of time or energy to be a gourmet cook. But in our own way, we were gourmet cooks, and our Grandmother O’Brad was the best “gourmet cook”, cooking dishes to warm the heart, feed the soul and make a meal for and with family and friends.

One such dish that has been and always will be part of my life is my Grandmother O’Brad’s Macaroni and Cream-of-Wheat. When I talk about and tell others about this dish, their faces turn to a look of wonder and to a look of amazement at the concoction. Don’t knock it till you have tried it. It has warmed my belly on many occasions and is always a crowd-pleaser at family gatherings. It is a simple dish, prepared with the simplest of steps. So with special memories of our Grandma O’Brad, I present to you, her Macaroni and Cream-of-Wheat.

  • Required Ingredients
    o 4 Qts of water
    o 3 cups of uncooked Elbow Macaroni
    o 1 ¼ tsp salt
    o ¼ cup of sugar
    o 1/3 cup cooking oil
    o 1 cup Cream-of-Wheat (Uncle Ben’s Cream of Wheat Original works best)
  • Cooking and Preparation Instructions
    o Bring 4 Qts of Water to boil
    ▪ Add the 1 tsp of salt
    o Add the 3 cups of uncooked Elbow Macaroni
  • Cook until desired tenderness
    o Rinse cooked Elbow Macaroni with hot water – set aside
    o In a cast-iron skillet (a normal frying skillet can be used, but a cast-iron skillet enhances the results)
    ▪ Pour in the 1/3 cup of cooking oil
    • Bring oil to a low heat
    ▪ Pour in the 1 cup of Cream-of-Wheat
    • Lightly brown Cream-of-Wheat
    o Add 3-4 cups of water SLOWLY, it will thicken as it cooks
    o Add the ¼ cup of sugar; more can be added to your taste
    o Add ¼ tsp of salt
    Mix in cooked Elbow Macaroni into the skillet, and serve.
    Ready to enjoy. Can be served hot or cold.
    • Hope you enjoy as much as our family does.