Comfort Food

Comfort Food

Chocolate Galas not withstanding, sometimes we just need a little Comfort Food. While the exact types and recipes can vary from sweet to salty, savory to spice, I think it’s probably more the memory or emotion a particular food evokes that is most meaningful.

For instance, back in the Dark Ages after I attended the morning session of kindergarten (yes, it was just half days back then!), Mother would often fix a grilled cheese sandwich for my lunch. White bread, with just enough butter to brown the bread, but not enough to make it soggy, American or Velveeta cheese, all nicely toasted in a cast-iron skillet.  Mmmm! This is still one of my favorite sandwiches, especially when paired with tomato or chicken noodle soup. Not the chicken soup from a can, mind you, but the Lipton kind from the packet with the little skinny noodles. Isn’t it funny to be so picky about such a simple thing as chicken noodle soup? Stir up a beaten egg with a little salt and pepper and add enough flour to make a thick paste, then drop tiny dumplings from the tip of a teaspoon into the simmering broth . . . oh my. That’s comfort food.

Another basic meal on the list is poached eggs on toast. Last weekend, while visiting Daddy, we had this for breakfast on Sunday. I told him how I recalled this as being one of the things Mother might make for me if I had to stay home from school due to sickness. Was it the protein she thought I needed?  The comparable blandness that would go easy on my stomach? The soft texture of the damp toast and the smooth egg that wouldn’t irritate a sore throat? The answer eludes me, but the memory remains, just like the times Dad would warm up milk in a pan on the stove and drizzle in some honey, stirring until it dissolved, and serve it in steaming mugs. That, too, was comfort food.

Custard pie and homemade ice cream make me think of my Grandpa Charlie and his siblings. Chinese food reminds me of my sister and her husband, because the first time I met him (before they were even engaged!) he took us to an excellent Chinese buffet for lunch in Tulsa. Chicken mole, first prepared for me by my dear sister-in-law, has become a favorite, and I never order it without thinking of her and my brother. And how can I possibly look at barbeque beef brisket without a fond remembrance of my Uncle Stan and cousin Dan, or see smoked salmon and not call to mind cousin Greg?

So, now it’s your turn. Leave a comment, if you will, and share your favorite comfort food, and why.  Then, get comfortable!

Calf Slobbers

Calf Slobbers

My good friend is moving.  Actually, it’s been a progressive process for quite some time, but now it’s official.  The house has been sold and Saturday they had a Sale.  If you live in the city, you probably call it an auction, but if you live–or grew up in–the country or a small town, you likely call it a Sale.  Basically, it’s a method of dispersing, in short order, of lawn and garden equipment, furniture and other household goods that one doesn’t intend to take along when they move.  If the owner has died, it’s referred to as an Estate Sale.

People can find some really good bargains at Sales.  If you’re just starting out on your own and don’t have much in the way of Worldly Goods yet, try to catch a few of these events.  It’s amazing what you can pick up for a small investment.  If you’re lucky, there will be food available (for a price, of course).  And if you’re really lucky, as we were on Saturday when the food was provided by some folks from a little local church congregation, the offerings at the concession table will include Pie.  Not just any pie, but honest-to-goodness, made from scratch by someone who truly knows what they’re doing, homemade pie.  With Meringue!  Is it chocolate, lemon, or coconut filling hidden underneath that fluffy, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth topping?  Who cares; it has meringue!

Not everyone likes meringue.  More than one person I’ve met (my mother included) call it Calf Slobbers.  They’d rather have a chocolate cream pie adorned with whipped topping than meringue.  Is it whipped cream?  Dream-whip or Cool-Whip, or what?  Do they even care?  If not, that’s ok, too; it’s their pie, after all.  But given the choice, I’ll pick meringue for my cream pie every time.  And Baked Alaska?  I’m pretty sure that’s what Heaven’s all about.

Now it’s your turn.  What’s on–and in–your pie?

 

photo credit:  Michelle Furnell, used with permission

Which Came First?

Which Came First?

Among the many simple things for which I am truly grateful, farm fresh eggs rank pretty high on the list.  The yolks stand up higher, the whites hold together more firmly, and they really do taste better than the store-bought variety.

It seems like there’s a resurgence in the concept, too.  Yesterday in the farm and home store I saw cute little pre-fab coops with wire pens on the sides, in three different designs.  These were, of course, displayed strategically next to the heat lamps, feeders, water founts, and–best of all–the baby chicks!  A guy was standing there, gazing longingly at the different breeds, and remembering aloud to me the fresh eggs he’d gotten for breakfast at Granny’s when he was a kid.  He admitted he lives “in town”, but was determined to find out if the city ordinances would allow him to keep one of those little coops with a few hens in his back yard.  I wished him well, and was again reminded of just how happy I am to live in the country.

When I was growing up,  we lived “in town” too.  But every summer, we were blessed to get to spend some time with our Country Cousins on both sides of the family.  At my dad’s brother’s place, Aunt Evelyn would let me go out to the chicken house with a bucket in the mornings to collect the eggs.  It was a bit like a treasure hunt.  Sometimes the hens would still be on their nests, but I’d gently slide my hand under their downy feathers and carefully retrieve the still-warm eggs from underneath them.  It doesn’t seem like I got pecked much, or if so, it wasn’t traumatic enough to recall.

The hens I have now were a gift from a couple who were moving to Arizona.  He was retiring from his job and wanted his little flock to have a good home.  Seven of the hens and the rooster are Buff Orpingtons, and two more hens are a shiny black, rather on the small side, with bright, dark eyes.  They’re all fairly calm and good-natured birds, and have been supplying me with about six or seven eggs a day.  They get grain and water and occasional scraps in their coop in the corner of the big barn, and have a wire-enclosed pen attached to the building for time in the sun.  On fair days I often open the pen door to allow them forage time in the yard.  Along with the seven guineas (tick eaters!) with whom they share their home, they all crowd around the outer door when they see me approaching, and race outside into the barnyard for their share of greens and bugs.  By sunset they’ve generally found their way back in to roost for the night.  I make a head-count to be sure everyone’s safely inside before I shut and latch the door to keep varmints at bay.

And you might think this is silly, but I thank them for giving me such nice eggs.  Somehow it just seems like the polite thing to do.

Got a chicken story to share?  Leave a comment!