Mother Blues’s Mac and Cheese Muffins

inUncategorizedon March 1, 2013

Soul food and Roots music share a common birthplace among the poor, rural communities in the American South. As I recently read on NPR.com, “…soul food was survival food in the black South. Dishes were inspired by a need to make do with what slaves could access.”

Music had a place in survival too. As John Dee Holeman told a group of elementary school children this fall when asked where the Blues came from, “When you were young, the work was hard, and the pay wasn’t good. You couldn’t get mad about it. So, you had the Blues.” That touched me—music was an outlet, a way to express feelings that you couldn’t otherwise, because they might endanger your job or your life.

Both of these traditions have held fast—for many reasons. But what I wanted to touch on is that both the deeply comforting (totally unhealthy) southern soul food and the raw, unadorned Blues, to me, evoke the sense of warmth and welcoming that I have felt so many times since transplanting myself to the South from my birthplace in Pennsylvania.

When I thought of writing about the connection between food and the Blues, there were so many things I could have covered. Denise’s stories of feeding large crowds during recording sessions in Music Maker’s early days, the time I thought our artists would enjoy eating pizza before a gig (after a stern talking-to from Aaron, I will NOT make that mistake again), to Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen’s Mac and Cheese muffins. But what came out when I sat down at the computer was: both these food and musical traditions came from places of pain, from survival. But now, to me, they symbolize love and support.

When you have something great, something you love, something that means so much to you—you want to share it. Ask Mother Blues for a recipe and she’ll give you six. She’s the same with her music—all our artists are. They want to share it, because it’s what they love. When you eat food Mother Blues worked hard on, you feel the love. When you listen to her sultry yet booming voice pleading with you to get up and dance (and burn off some of that bread pudding) at a show, you feel the love. She loves it and shares it with you. Music and food are two of the cultural treasures of the South that will not die, as long as they continue to be loved, because people will continue to share them.

Pat “Mother Blues’” Mac and Cheese Cup Cakes

1 box Large elbow macaroni
3 Eggs
1 stick Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste (1T. Suggested)
2C. Heavy Cream or Low Fat Milk or evaporated
1 C. Cream Cheese
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Pack Cracker Barrel New York Sharp Cheese (shredded)
1 bag cheddar cubes or cubed Velveeta
1 sleeve Ritz Crackers

In a big pot fill halfway with water and add 3 T. sea salt. When water starts to boil, add macaroni. IMPORTANT! Under-cook the macaroni (The macaroni will cook also in sauce.) When macaroni is almost done pour water off.

In a double boiler whisk eggs over double boiler until eggs are custard. Add milk, cream cheese, soup, salt, pepper, 2/3 stick of butter and shredded CB Cheese. (Save some of the cheese for toppings.) Mix in. Stir slowly until melted into a sauce.

Mix in macaroni with cheese sauce.

Make the crust: Crush Ritz Crackers with melted butter. Place about 2 T. in each tin. Put a chunk of cheese in each tin, add macaroni mixture on top, then top with shredded cheese. Bake for 25 minutes at 400* in a pre heated oven. Let rest for about ½ hr.

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