Recent days and weeks (feels like months and years) I’m hearing the term “cabin fever” with a greater frequency than ever. When chatting with friends at every turn, it seems we dwell too long on the topic of the moment: the weather. “It’s the ice,” everyone feels compelled to explain, as if we can’t figure out why we feel so cranky and helpless.
But there’s a glimmer of joy in it all. No other time of year has its own food menu. We sit around and talk about hot soup like it is rare caviar or imported champagne or freshly acquired truffles. We’re talking about Comfort Food.
To be considered truly authentic comfort food, the item must first of all make you feel like you are seven years old, standing by your aproned mom who is offering a tray of freshly baked brownies to be washed down with milk. “You can drink all the milk you want”
It is best to discuss comfort food with siblings, although anyone exactly your age can fill the bill. It is, however, almost impossible to repeat your own family’s comfort food.
My mother was a genius when it came to feeding a large family with very little. One potato could go a long way. My favorite dish was left-over beef scraps mixed with a can of cream of mushroom soup. She called it Beef Stroganoff and it was always my birthday meal, that day when you got to call what would be served at all three meals.
Many of the wonderful foods of yore have turned out to be really bad for you. Who knew creamed salt-port could put a bullet in your heart? Why do we no longer fry up pounds of bacon at a time?
We would have a big breakfast on Saturday mornings, featuring creamed cod fish, or creamed dried beef or creamed just about anything as long as it had plenty of fat to fry up. We used to have liver and onions because liver was cheap and it was good for you. Now it’s expensive and it’s bad for you, so we don’t eat it. We never like it much, anyway. Did anybody ever have milk toast? This was a Sunday regular in our house. You heavily buttered some toast, tore it into pieces, poured hot milk over it, salt and peppered it. The milk was not ever non fat. Definitely Bowl Food as my son-in-law calls it.
One dish that was always a mystery to me was Salmon Wiggle. This was canned salmon and canned peas, served with good old cream sauce on a bed of saltines. Bleh!
In our house each child was on record of being allowed to skip one hated item of food. Mine was, and still is, bananas. It’s a strange choice to avoid and my grandchildren take great pleasure in waving half-eaten slimy old bananas under my nose while I beg for mercy. One brother of mine got to skip asparagus, another still does without creamed corn, a couple despise eggplant and another has lived a lifetime avoiding cottage cheese.
This “right here and now” is definitely cocoa weather, made from scratch, not a mix.