One of the most valuable parenting lessons I learned came before I was even a parent. It had nothing to do with diapers, puberty or college funds. It had everything to do with macaroni and cheese.
I was single, childless and naturally wise beyond my years (of course). Left at my sister's home one day with approximately 23 of her children — seriously, we lost count in 1995 — I was asked to make lunch for the unruly brood. With but one box of the ubiquitous Kraft Mac & Cheese in the cupboard, I set out to artistically supplement its contents in order to feed the battalion.
Some extra bowtie, rigatoni and penne pasta, copious amounts of sharp cheddar, a smattering of broccoli florets — the perfect way to get them to eat their vegetables, I surmised. Gruyere, heavy whipping cream, just a rumor of cayenne and a delicately placed sprig of parsley. Voila! What kid could resist?