While trying to decide what to have for breakfast on Ash Wednesday, I came up with a quick macaroni and cheese recipe that contains no artificial ingredients. That wretched boxed stuff that is the color of a school bus contains tartrazine (FD&C Yellow No. 5), a coal tar dye that has been linked to allergy problems. The yellow coloring in natural cheddar cheese is annatto, a harmless vegetable pigment. Here's what you'll need:

1 box of elbow macaroni, 16 ounce size

1/2 stick butter (NOT margarine)

1/2 of a 1/2 pint container of heavy cream

1 chunk of sharp cheddar cheese, 8 ounce size

Cook the elbow macaroni in salted water, drain, and set aside. Coarsely grate the cheese into a saucepan, add the butter and heavy cream, and heat over a low flame, stirring frequently until the cheese melts and mixes with the other ingredients. Pour the cheese sauce into the macaroni, stir, and enjoy!

As a variation of this recipe, pour the macaroni and cheese into a casserole dish, top with bread crumbs and a little butter, and bake at 350 degrees F. until the bread crumbs turn golden brown.