musings, mutterings, and creative muddle. . .

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Aaaaah. . . Comfort Food. Yum.

Such a crazy weekend with all of us going in different directions on Saturday, and, together, going off the beaten path on Sunday, left us out of the kitchen for the entire time.  A rather unusual experience for us.

Monday came along and saved us - so glad for Presidents Washington and Lincoln - by giving us an extra day off.  We made up for the hectic 'no meals at home and together' kind of weekend with some good, old-fashioned comfort food.  And, regrettably, we were so incredibly focused on food - we forgot photos. . . mostly.

One of our family rituals is eating supper together each evening - if at all possible.  And, frankly, this actually happens most nights.  We may barely see each other - if at all- throughout the day.  But, come supper time, if we're not all in the kitchen cooking together, we all at least sit down and eat together.  When we miss this, it kind of throws us out of sync with each other.

Our meal last night kind of put us back into our place.  It found all of us cooking and then eating together. It's a meal we haven't prepared, for whatever reason, for a very long time.  A simple meal. . . Recipes, primarily, from the 1950's Good Housekeeping Cookbook (that I honestly cannot live without - thank you very much - even though the spine has completely cracked, it's stained, and some of the ingredients are incredibly outdated.  I LOVE this cookbook!)

Who knows what qualities a food has to have in order to receive the esteemed distinction of 'Comfort Food.'  I suppose one quality may be that it comes from a recipe, or memory of a recipe, from another generation.  A dish handed down over the years - I don't mean Grandma's china and definitely not some kind of mysterious leftover.  But something that just reminds us of a time, place, or person that brought us comfort and made us feel safe and happy.  A food that simply touches our heart. . . though, have you noticed, these comfort foods that touch our heart also seem to touch our waistline.  Anyway - more on that another time.  Or not.

So, our way of getting back into the family-sync this past holiday Monday was to fix a great Comfort Meal:  meatloaf, macaroni and cheese and steamed fresh green beans.   And blueberry muffins Son-o made earlier in the day.  Let me tell you, we all were well-comforted after that family dinner!

Everyone makes meatloaf so different, don't they? 

I start with a pound of ground chuck, (last night I tossed in about 1/3 pound of our homemade breakfast sausage we had leftover from that morning too), add a couple eggs, a bit of minced green onion, a sprinkling of garlic powder, a healthy amount of Italian seasoning, about a cup of bread crumbs, and about a cup of halved green olives.  Using your hands, combine all ingredients thoroughly.  If it seems a little dry (not really sticking together to be molded), I'll add a little liquid such as beef broth, apple juice, or, as I did last night, a splash of beer.  Any kind of beer will do - nothing fancy is required.

Mold the meat mixture into a loaf shape, place in a greased, foil-lined (saves on clean up) baking dish.  Then top it with a generous amount of ketchup, and crosshatch it with some Heinz 57.  Put a little liquid (again, last night, I used beer) in the bottom and bake in a 350 degree oven 75 to 90 minutes until the center tests 150 to 160 degrees with a meat thermometer.  Tasty!

And that macaroni and cheese?  Every once in awhile we'll get hungry for the homemade stuff.  I modified a recipe that's in my old beloved G.H. Cookbook to meet our 'comfort levels.'

6-8 oz elbo noodles (or shape of your choice) cooked to al dente
1-2/3 cup milk
1/4 lb American cheese
1/4 lb sharp cheddar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
1-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire
1/2 cup chopped peppers (green, red, pimiento - whatever combination suits your fancy)

Start cooking the noodles as per the packages instructions.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get out a square baking dish.  Saute the chopped peppers for just a few minutes in just a tsp. of butter over medium-high heat.  Tip:  Use a pan large enough that you can add the cheese sauce ingredients to later.  Once peppers are done, add milk and cheeses.  Stir over medium-low heat until melted and smooth.  Stir in dry mustard and Worcestshire.  When pasta is al dente (it needs to be firm as it will finish cooking in the oven), drain and put into greased baking dish; top with cheese sauce.  Bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes.

What's your comfort food?

Have a macaroni and cheese kind of day!

Robin Z

No comments:

Post a Comment