Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

I’ve never been so happy to make mac & cheese August 3, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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The mac and cheese I make from scratch. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


I PREPARED HOMEMADE macaroni and cheese for supper Wednesday evening.

That’s a big deal for me as I recover from a broken left wrist with a currently unusable hand. I managed one-handed, without assistance, to boil and strain the macaroni, make a cheese sauce, combine both and then slide the glass casserole into the oven.

When Randy arrived home from work, the dish needed an additional 15 minutes of baking time. I should have started prep earlier given the slowed pace of cooking with only one hand.

Even something as simple as choosing kettles required thought. I couldn’t use the usual two-handled pot for boiling the macaroni. And when I opened the package of cheddar cheese, I cut it with a scissor. I can’t separate the sides of a ziploc bag. Thankfully I could punch the top of the evaporated milk can and pour the liquid through that hole.

Eventually I got the mac and cheese ready and in the oven.

I’ve learned much since the June 16 fall resulting in a broken left wrist followed by surgery to implant a plate held in place by 10 screws. I’ve learned the value of patience, the importance of two hands and that I really don’t dislike cooking as much as I’ve always claimed. Now I wish I could cook regularly. But my cooking has been sparse given so much done in the kitchen requires the use of two hands. I dislike constantly asking Randy to help when he already has enough on his plate (pun intended). Can you open this can? Can you open this jar? Can you open this bag? Can you, can you, can you? My frustration grows.

So far he’s been patient and helpful and does nearly all of the cooking after a long, hard day of physical labor at his job. But I haven’t asked him yet to deal with an aging head of cauliflower, hoping he will notice the vegetable on the top shelf of the fridge…

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


45 Responses to “I’ve never been so happy to make mac & cheese”

  1. Your mac & cheese looks delicious! Hang in there girl! 🙂

    • I’m trying to hang in there. That said, I asked my occupational therapist today whether I need to schedule out more appointments beyond the three weeks already booked into August. Yes, go out a month more, she said. This is a long process of regaining range of motion and, eventually, strength (haven’t even started on that yet as the bone is still healing). I just hope insurance continues to cover those sessions. I’ve already met my $3,600 deductible.

      Moral of the story: Don’t ever break your wrist that then requires a plate inserted with 10 screws.

  2. Go Grandma Says:

    Wow! So much we take for granted. You at least know this is temporary. I can’t even imagine a lifetime with limited use of both hands. Thank you for this perspective. Today I’m grateful for 10 fully functional digits!

    • Yes, I need to remember that, that this is only temporary.

      My father-in-law lost his left hand/arm to just below the elbow in a farm accident more than 50 years ago. He had a hook arm and now wears a prosthetic. How challenging to go through life with that situation. My husband was with him when this happened and saved his dad’s life.

  3. I hope you saved some of that wonderful MN dish for a visitor…LOL I do miss a good MN hotdish! I think it is a wonderful step forward whenever someone realizes that small things in life that cause us pain can be overcome by a little time and patience. Well done!!

  4. Beth Ann Says:

    That cauliflower might be waiting for you when you can use your hand again. Just saying Chris can look in the fridge and totally miss things right in front of his face. 🙂 The mac and cheese looks delightful by the way.

  5. Ruth Says:

    What an effort but what a fine result. The ultimate comfort food. Many could not accomplish what you did with their two fully functional hands.

  6. valeriebollinger Says:

    The mac and cheese looks delicious! I can sense your frustration at the process though. Hang in there…you have a kind husband who will help you through this.

  7. Almost Iowa Says:

    Packaging is challenge even for two strong hands. It is hard to imagine tackling it with less than that.

  8. Audry, I cannot tell you how much I can relate to what you shared. My journey with pain started over 14 years ago and now 32 surgeries, countless days in the hospital and endless medical tests down the road I find myself disabled and unable to hold a full-time job. This is especially disconcerting since I was raised by parents who were disciplined and a father who held a full and part-time job most of his life. Then when he came home he had (of course) work around the house as every homeowner does. They raised me with the belief that hard work and discipline were ways that you cared for those you love and fulfill what God has called you to do. I have been disabled for about three years now as my spine finally fell apart. I have always had lots of spinal issues like Scoliosis, Stenosis and just about every other osis that is known to medical man. I turned 60 this year so I am not that far from retirement but this is not what I thought would be of my life. Both of my parents were great cooks. They had 5 children, 2 girls, and 3 boys. They taught us boys in the kitchen from our young years up. I am told that I am a great cook. I cook for all of our holiday dinners with the exception of Christmas morning breakfast. No one, again I will say no one but my wife can cook a Christmas morning breakfast. I came over to her house on Christmas morning 26 years ago and she prepared for me a fantastic breakfast and that started the tradition. Anyway, I have now become our houses main cook and bottle washer. I run a mean vacuum cleaner I’ll tell you. But with that many surgeries, you can guess (rightfully so) that I have fallen down on the job a lot. I tore my right rotator cuff almost completely. I’ll say it for you, Ouch! And I fell and broke my right shoulder/arm right at the tip and now have a plate that runs down to my elbow with 17 screws. Everything and I mean everything that I read made perfect sense to me. Oh, by the way, your Mac & Cheese looks yummy do you ever give out your recipes? I have prayed for you and I will continue to do so. Blessings my friend, Gary

    • You have been through so much with 32 surgeries and then more. I’m sorry. But look at you and your determination, strength and attitude. You amaze me.

      Your parents sound like wonderful parents to have raised you as they did with their faith defining their lives and family life. Thank you for praying for me. I just finished reading a book on prayer and one of the topics discussed was how praying for others blesses them. I agree. I feel valued and loved and comforted when I know others are praying for me. I will do the same for you.

      As far as the mac and cheese recipe, it’s “Traditional Macaroni and Cheese” from allrecipes.com. I couldn’t find it or I would have included a link. But I didn’t look too hard. Many years have passed since I found that recipe online.

      • No worries about that recipe, I will do the clicking with the mouse. Who knew that one day we would refer to a mouse as anything other than a rodent who gets into places that they don’t belong. Oh, that is why we call it a mouse. It is because we can use it (well some of us) to go where we don’t belong. I am thankful that I can say, not that I have never fallen but that God has given me the strength to stand. Our pastors need to make this a topic higher up the totem pole as a lot of men really struggle with what they do with this electronic rodent. Thankfully when we submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s control that becomes a thing of the past. So, my friend watch what you do with that little electronic mouse. LOLouder! But, really it is important.

      • Interesting how my recipe leads to talk about mice and then a mouse and, well, your mind works in creative ways. I feel like I gave you a writing prompt.

      • The problem that I have is focus. Have you ever seen the movie for children called “UP”? It is a cartoon with a talking dog. The dog chat’s away, but all of a sudden say’s squirrel and off goes the dog. That is the way my mind works. I have now started a journal with blog ideas. My blog’s title is Pain My Traveling Companion. This topic sometimes kind of limits my creativity but it is what I am passionate about. I will need to start a new blog I guess? Thanks for the compliment and the conversation. I think that we would be friends, and by the way, I think that you are very creative as well. Have you followed my blog? Blessings, Gary

      • Writing can be so therapeutic and blogging a great way to connect with a caring community. So keep blogging. And, yes, I have peeked at your blog.

      • Thank you for taking the time, Blessings, Gary

  9. Grab a fork and dig in – YUM 🙂 Hot, Melty, Cheesy GOODness! I love making home made dishes, however; this time of year it is too hot to turn on the oven. So the crock pot comes out. Lasagna, Pot Roast, Minestrone Soup – Oh My!!! Happy Weekend – Take it Easy – Enjoy

  10. treadlemusic Says:

    Well, the wedding and Hoedown are behind us and one-handed Son #2 got through it..1 handed. He suffered mightily from sleep deprivation (mood change, memory issues, etc) but has somewhat caught up. You “1-handed” people have just GOT to get well!!!! Continuing in prayer for you (and Randy!)…….with gentle hugs comin’ at ya………….

  11. melirey96 Says:

    That mac and cheese looks so delicious now I don’t feel like eating what I cooked for dinner. Enjoy! I’am going to make me some mac and cheese too!

  12. anitashope Says:

    Audrey, I write to empathize and encourage you. I fell and broke my left elbow which an implant was also added. Living with only one limb is really frustrating. It took a while but it did get better. Wishing you good luck and understanding.

  13. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    You mean there’s some other method than scissors to open those self-sealing things, or even the pull apart kind? Also had trouble with those little milk cartons we drank out of. Guess maybe they still do. At least you didn’t grate the cheese. But it does look delish!! Kudos all around….and pray it gets better soon.

  14. aylaflamingo Says:

    Yum! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Sue Ready Says:

    Reading the recent reader comments just reaffirmed the impact of your words. Gary’s response to your recent blog posting showed compassion to your current health set backs having faced his own health crisis but still finding a sliver lining in his misfortunes being able to do other things around the house. Isn’t it interesting the simple task of making a dish can also be a triumph. With all the cooking I do one of my most frustrating dishes to make that reduced me to tears was when we were camping when our children quite young was macaroni cheese. I was trying to it without proper utensils in VERY TIGHT quarters in this very small camper with toddlers.Ii had a major meltdown vowing never to go camping again. And I did stick with that resolution.

    • That does not sound like a fun experience. I’ve never enjoyed camping either, except for the time I camped with an aunt and uncle when I was a child. That’s easy. You just get to have fun with zero work. My camping experiences involved trains, torrential rain and partying teens. Nope, I won’t camp any more either.

  16. Gunny Says:

    Wishing you all speedy and full recoveries!

  17. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I can’t imagine the frustrations but hopefully this will pass soon for you! Your Mac n Cheese looks amazing

  18. OMgoodness,
    I just looooove a girl who can get excited about Mac & Cheese.
    You make me SMILE 🙂

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