Posts Tagged ‘Comfort Food’

Here is “Yours Truly” ↑ anticipating a favorite meal at our nearby Lumber Inn, located in the City of Delafield:  roast pork, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy washed down with iced tea.  There was a time I’d have added caramel apple pie with a streusel crust and ice cream to the above feast, but I can no longer handle that much food in one sitting.  The pie and ice cream would be a meal in itself.

My husband and I were raised on REAL FOOD.  Our mothers fed us the way I fed our children, with the nutritional food groups represented in most of our meals—followed by dessert for extra “quality of life”.  Now, although I love an occasional foray into ethnic cuisines, I still love old-fashioned American farm style food most of all.

I have total sympathy and understanding for those whose health issues require dietary restrictions.  Joe is diabetic, so we carefully balance our carbohydrates.  But that doesn’t mean Joe has to cease enjoying treats.  He’s had more flack over the years from low blood sugar than from high, so his nightly dish of ice cream is a good safeguard against hypoglycemia. 

Excessive roughage in the form of grainy, chewy breads and an overdose of raw vegies will make me ill for several days.  In contrast to current food fads, I must eat a good share of cooked, even refined foods.  Raw fruits agree with me in any quantity, while raw veggies must be consumed with extreme caution.  Fortunately, the above plate of roast pork (a senior portion!) comforts both my body and soul!

Every individual is different!  That is why I get a little “testy” when I hear the frequent diatribes about food.  I do not go around preaching that everyone should eat roast lamb, beef, and pork—even though these meats are the kindest and most palatable of foods to me.  Therefore I have great difficulty listening to all the trendy propoganda about the glories of white chicken.  My chicken soup may be the world’s best—but when it come to solid meat on my plate I prefer to stare down a lamb chop, beef tenderloin, or a bit of the piggy. 

The issue is not so much what we eat, but rather how much!  Reasonable eating helped to keep my parents on planet earth for a long time—93 years for my mom, and 102 for my dad.  Of course genes played a major role as well.  Most of us can ignore the ever-fluctuating food fads, and thrive on down-to-earth REAL FOOD in moderation!  As the old saying goes, “Call me anything, but please don’t call me ‘late for dinner’ “!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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Who would ever think that one of my favorite foods would have such a currently infamous connotation?  Every day I eliminate “spam” on my computer, some of it terribly ugly and some of it simply a matter of blog readers trying to peddle their wares.  But electronic spam does not in any way lesson my love for that Hormel product first launched in 1937. 

Although much maligned by today’s “black beans, couscous, and chicken breast but no other meat” crowd, Hormel’s SPAM® is and always will be an American classic!

I grew up in the 1930s and 40s when good nutrition was a GIVEN!  The food groups were introduced to us in kindergarten and upheld by our mothers in the kitchen—yes mothers like June Cleever, with APRONS!

Granted, we didn’t have the out of season fruit and vegetables that are available in our supermarkets today.  (I love eating raspberries in March!)  But our aproned mothers canned tomatoes, peas, beans, beets, carrots, corn, peaches, pears, and plums for us to enjoy all winter.  Potatoes, squash, onions, and apples were kept intact in sand, in a cold cellar way beyond autumn.  As the apples grew old, they were quickly batched into the world’s best applesauce. 

We did have fresh oranges and grapefruit—not just in our Christmas stockings but for the weeks after Christmas.  I never knew of anyone in our town getting scurvy.

All winter long, we had hot cereal for breakfast—oatmeal with raisons, Cream of Wheat® with dates, Ralstons®, etc.  We put sugar in our cereal.  Lots of sugar! 

We’d have laughed ourselves loony, if we’d heard that sugar might make children “hyper-active”.  Children had chores to do.  And we had decent, highly academic schools which demanded completed homework assignments.  There wasn’t any time or energy left for hyper-activity! 

(There was such a thing as naughtiness which occasionally surfaced in children, myself included.  But no psycho-babble was applied to our behavior.  Naughtiness was dealt with swiftly and efficiently, and we were given something to think about!  Sugar on our cereal—and the fact that we nearly always had pie, cake, cookies, or ice cream after dinner—had nothing to do with our behavior.  In fact, sugar always made me feel and act sweeter!  🙂 )

And then there was meat.  Meat was rationed in WW II, and my mother was careful with her coupons.  We had our main meat meal on Sundays—a pot roast, baked chicken, ham, pork roast, leg of lamb, according to availability.  This feast was stretched into the coming week:  meat pie on Monday evening with the meat, vegies, and potatoes with gravy baked to bubbling in my Mom’s home made crust—followed by soup from the meat bones and casseroles on subsequent week days.

Near the weekend when the meat pie, soup, and casseroles were gone, we had SPAM®.  How wonderful it was, heated in a skillet with a bit of brown sugar and mustard—and served with scalloped potatoes and hot vegies. 

As well as nourishing us at home during those years, SPAM® fueled the allied soldiers and provided sustenance for relief in ravished Europe after the war. 

The Hormel website states:  “Over the years, the SPAM® Family of Products has made itself known around the world, winning over the hearts of soldiers, world leaders, chefs, kids and parents alike.  In fact, Gracie Allen, Dwight Eisenhower, Margaret Thatcher and Monty Python all have sung praises of the SPAM® Brand.”   http://www.spam.com/ 

I also sing the praises of SPAM®, and serve it at least once a month.  Heated to a crisp in my iron skillet and served with hot buttered green beans, a fresh spinach salad (with sweet peppers, oranges, and bananas), and warm dinner rolls, that meal is mighty comforting.  In my opinion, it’s worlds better than black beans, couscous, and white chicken—or anything equally hip and trendy!

Not welcome on my computer, but definitely celebrated on my plate:  that’s SPAM®!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

P.S.  I realize and respect that some highly sensitive individuals cannot eat any processed food, and some folks cannot tolerate much sugar.  My husband is diabetic, so we only do desserts on special occasions—and then very sparingly. 

But moderation works for most of us.  If we eat a well balanced main meal, dessert can be good for body and soul.  Even a diabetic can enjoy a small serving of dessert if he or she decides to forego some other carbs in the meal.  Life is all about choices!

Note:  Here is a family favorite:  In your old-fashioned hand meat grinder, grind up one can of SPAM® and one/half of a large box of VELVEETA® cheese. 

Mix these ingredients, and spread on open face buns (whole wheat buns are good).  Broil until golden and bubbly.  Serve with a fruit and vegie salad and sweet pickle relish. 

Who in the world would ever want to hang out at a fast food restaurant, when that—or any other good meal—was prepared at home by an actual mother in an apron?

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For the first time in weeks, we’re experiencing temperatures above freezing.  The bitter cold started early in December and, with rare exception, continued through January.  But now there’s a difference.  The earth is turning!

Daylight stretches out at both ends.  We have over 10 hours between sunrise and sunset.  The squirrels, grey and red, are chasing each other with renewed vigor.  Redpolls have moved into the neighborhood, in huge numbers–along with a flock of goldfinches.  The ruffed grouse are rustling in the woods and standing in the middle of our forest roads.  Life is flowing back!

One way I can tell that the earth is turning, is from my response to food.  Every year for awhile after the Christmas holidays, I have a lackluster attitude toward food, and it’s not much fun going to the supermarket.  But about a week ago, something snapped.  Now I’m excited about walking the aisles and throwing things into my cart.  I’m excited about buying, preparing, and eating food!

At a recent church potluck supper, a young woman brought a steaming 9″ x 13″ pan exuding the most heavenly, familiar aroma.  It was an old-fashioned tuna, noodle, and cheese casserole.  I commented, “Oh, COMFORT FOOD!”

My young friend had never heard the term, so I explained that “comfort food” is that wonderful fare on which many of us were raised–or, for that matter, any food which gives us great comfort.  I assured her that even if she didn’t know the term “comfort food”, she obviously knew how to make it–tuna casserole being a splendid example.

Now as I forage in the supermarket, I load up with comfort food–and relish preparing such delicacies as:

Beef pot roast baked slowly all day in a cast iron Dutch oven with mushroom gravy, little red potatoes, and white pepper;

Pork tenderloin rubbed with curry and white pepper, baked slowly, and served with brown rice;

Spam (yes, Spam!  Don’t look so shocked!  It’s delicious!) browned in a cast iron skillet with mustard, brown sugar, and white pepper, and served with corn and peas;

Meat loaf with white pepper and ketchup (Joe makes the meat loaf and meatballs around here);

Turkey soup (made from Thanksgiving leftovers) with vegetables, rice, and white pepper;

Greek spanakopita–phyllo dough with spinach, feta cheese, garlic, and white pepper;

Macaroni, cheese, and kielbasa casserole with white pepper;

And of course tuna, cheese, and noodle casserole with white pepper.

Our grandson, Doug, is with us for a couple of days from the beautiful state of Washington.  For dinner we had a lasagna type casserole with white pepper, French bread, a spinach salad, and ice cream. 

COMFORT FOOD!  Yes, the earth is definitely turning!  🙂

Note:  There isn’t a black bean or even a dollop of white chicken in the above pieces de resistance!  “To each his own!”

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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