bertha's kitchen // pioneer mac & cheese

A couple Christmases ago my grandparents gave me a handmade recipe box full of recipes from my grandma's repertoire.  Embarrassingly, I only recently started making recipes from that box!  I've been used to just grabbing stuff off of pinterest or searching for it in Google, but my grandma has some great recipes and they all have this charm to them specific to the lifestyle for which they were created, specifically life in Juneau Alaska.  My grandparents have lived in Juneau for most of their lives.  My grampa has lived in Alaska since he was born in 1921, and my grandma moved there after she graduated from nursing school and drove up the AlCan during the first year it was open to the public in order to teach native Alaskan mothers birthing techniques as a midwife.  Needless to say, culinary luxuries were minimal and I love to see how she got creative with recipes and pioneer cooking.  So, I'm trying to make an effort to go through her recipes and cook them, and maybe update them with some of my own modern zest!

4 cups hot drained boiled macaroni (8 oz. uncooked)
2 tbsp butter
1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 eggs (beaten)
3 cups milk
2-3 strips bacon, diced into bacon bits (optional, but delicious)

Preheat your oven to 350º.  Mix all ingredients well in a 9x9(ish) oven safe dish.  Bake for about 40-60 minutes, until golden brown.  Sprinkle with paprika and serve hot!  

If you want to take it up a most delicious notch, fry up 2 strips of bacon worth of bacon bits (I always snip my bacon strips into little squares with scissors before cooking=insta bacon bits!) while everything is in the oven cooking.  Then, right before serving, stir the bacon bits into the mac and cheese, top with paprika, and BAM.  Magic happens in your mouth.  I didn't discover this until I had reheated a second serving the day after I took these photos and thought to include the bacon, which is why you'll note a distinct lack of bacon in the photos.  But trust me, it was incredible.  And photo worthy, if I'd thought of it earlier.