I realized when I was writing the recipe for Oven Fried Chicken, that it is probably my all time favorite comfort food. My Mom makes it best. She uses crushed rice crispies and a variety of spices. It’s mmm, mmm, good. I loved it every time she made it. I used to use rice crispies and I don’t remember why I stopped, probably because the cereal gets stale quickly and bread crumbs seem to stay fresh forever. I usually make a package of thighs and take them cold for lunches. Really good.
Most of my comfort foods come from childhood: mac ‘n’ cheese made with velveeta, spaghetti with garlic bread, meatloaf, beef stew and pot roast. These were all great meals my Mom created. My recipes only vary slightly from hers. Sometimes to make them a bit lighter, but that’s only when I don’t want the true comfort experience.
Mac ‘n’ cheese: Mom always made it with Velveeta. Then she added a dash of onion powder, not onions, not onion flakes, it has to be onion powder. It adds a little something, a bit of zing. I make mine with jalapenos and serve with a garnish of diced tomatoes.
Spaghetti: My Mom’s sauce is the best. I cannot really duplicate it. I make good sauce, but it’s not Mom’s. It’s tomato sauce and tomato paste, spices and hamburger or chicken. Chicken Cacciatore was my all time favorite Italian meal she made – though her Lasagna is great, too. Served with butter soaked toasted garlic bread, yummmmeeee.
Meatloaf: No idea how she makes it, but it’s good.
Beef Stew and Pot Roast: Simple flavors cooked to perfection – vegetables, onion, beef, salt, pepper and a bay leaf, maybe a dash of wine.
Dinner always had a salad served in a garlic rubbed bowl to round out the meal.
In the summer we always had a garden of some kind. My love of fresh vegetables began there. Such a change from the canned vegetables that were prevelant in the late 60’s, early 70’s. My Dad can grow amazing tomatoes and green peppers.
Family dinners were good times in my house. Even better were meals with extended family. Loud and raucous, never a dull moment. I remember one dinner where dinner rolls were thrown around the table, instead of being passed. I’m sure some adults were mortified, but all of us kids loved it.
Comfort foods are big business, there are websites dedicated to helping people find flavors of their youth. They might not have even been good food (think 1960 era tv dinners), but they evoke fond memories nevertheless. I think this may be why I believe so strongly that family dinner time is such an important ritual. A time to connect and make memories. And shouldn’t it be around really good food and not another fast food takeout dinner? IMHO 🙂
Spring is back, so I’ll look for a recipe to reflect that before the next snow storm. Until then….