Mac-and-cheese recipe 'In Good Taste'

Palmyra Farm Cheese is one of 15 businesses set for food and wine festival

May 17, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Dairy farmer Mary Creek was getting sick of her sons "ruining" her macaroni and cheese with mounds of Old Bay.

Her innovation led to a new favorite at the dinner table: Chesapeake mac and cheese.

Creek, 52, operates Palmyra Farm Cheese, just south of Hagerstown, with her brother, Mike Shank.

Palmyra Farm Cheese is one of 15 businesses participating in The Herald-Mail's In Good Taste Food and Wine Festival from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 23.

The event will offer food samples, wine tasting, demonstrations, live entertainment and cook offs.

Because dairy farming is the Creek family way - and more recently, so is cheese making - access to fresh cheese and milk create the perfect conditions for better-than-average macaroni-and cheese.

By incorporating the farm's Old Bay-flavored cheddar and tossing in a bit of crab meat, Creek adds interest to what could have easily been garden-variety mac and cheese.


Palmyra Farm's Chesapeake Bay Cheddar is made from the milk of Ayrshire cow, which Creek said results in a smoother, sweeter cheese than the typical dairy breed - the iconic black-and-white flecked Holstein.

Creek chatted with The Herald-Mail from the kitchen of her childhood home.

She talked about who really does the cooking in her house - she said it's her husband, Mike - and what drives her to stick with the farming industry when it's getting tougher and tougher to make a profit.

But most importantly, she talked the origins of this mac-and-cheese recipe.

Q&A with Mary Creek

Q: Tell me about some of your food memories? What do you remember your folks cooking?

A: Macaroni and cheese. I learned to make it from my mom (the late Patsy Shank). We ate a lot of macaroni and cheese.

Q: Did you help her out?

A: Not a lot.

Q: Really?

A: I spent most of my time outside working with cows. (She laughs.)

Q: So how'd you pick up the recipe.

A: I was around enough. (She laughs.)

Q: What are some other things? I suppose with your family being dairy farmers you all had good access to great milk and cheese.

A: We weren't making our own cheese at the time. We were getting it at the dairy. It was just like Land 'O Lakes cheese, commercially prepared cheese.

Q: Is it better with real cheese?

A: Oh, yeah. (She laughs.) As soon as we got our cheeses (as in the Chesapeake Cheddar made on her farm) back last year it was only a day or two when (my sons) said we want mac and cheese made with that. I said, I've still got the other cheese in the refrigerator. I need to use it up. They said, "Oh no, we'll use that later." Then they said, "You're never using that again."

I had a hard time getting that (old cheese) used up.

There really is a difference in the flavor.

If you go ...

WHAT: In Good Taste

WHEN: Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 23

WHERE: Hager Hall Conference and Event Center, off Dual Highway, Hagerstown

COST: $10. Tickets available at The Herald-Mail Co. and at Barefoot Bernie's, 901 Dual Highway, Hagerstown. Free Herald-Mail cookbook for all atten dees.

CONTACT: For more information, call 301-745-3620.

Scheduled bands

Noon - Ryan Payne Band, alternative Christian

2 p.m. - Hicktown, country

4 p.m. - Fertile Soil, bluegrass

Participating vendors:

1912 Hoover House

Aqua 103

Barefoot Bernie's

The Cracked Cork

Edible Arrangements

The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille

Hard Times Cafe

Leiter's Fine Catering

Mrs. Gibbles Restaurant

Palmyra Farm Cheese

The Pampered Chef

Silpada Designs

Spriggs Delight Farms

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard

Tastefully Simple

Chesapeake mac and cheese

6 cups dry elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 pound Palmyra Farm Chesapeake Bay cheddar.
1 cup bread crumbs
1 pound crab meat, optional (see cook's note)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil and drain the macaroni.

Melt and spread the butter in the bottom of a casserole dish or Dutch oven.

Place a third of the cooked macaroni into the pan.

Slice the cheese and divide into thirds. Place a layer of cheese evenly over the macaroni. Repeat the layering until all the pasta and cheese have been used.

Pour the milk over the macaroni and cheese.

Top the macaroni and cheese evenly with bread crumbs.

Cover and bake for roughly 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Uncover and brown for an additional 10 minutes.

Cook's note: If you're using crab, toss a pound of crab meat in with the macaroni before you begin layering.

Serves 5 to 6 people.

-Courtesy of Mary Creek, of Palmyra Farm Cheeses, south of Hagerstown

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