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Now is the time for 'comfort food,' kindness

 

Last updated 11/2/2007 at Noon



These are the times when actions speak louder than words.

For many in our community, nothing can replace what was lost, change the hard work of cleaning up or aid in reviving hope amidst the complexities of the disaster all have survived. All may be resolved and accepted over time, just not now while the losses are so fresh and tender.

What we can do is take the simple action of sharing what we have with others in need. For some this may be making double or triple portions of “comfort food” to feed the body, mind and spirit of those worse off than themselves.

Here, then, are some “comfort food” menus with selected recipes from classic sources for you to use soothe, sustain and encourage those in need. Add your own special touches of kindness where possible. I will be doing the same.

Comfort Menu #1

Macaroni and Cheese

Steamed Broccoli

Hot Rolls with Butter

Hot Fudge Sundaes

Macaroni and Cheese is creamy, satisfying and fits the description of “comfort food” in many ways. And, it’s quite simple to make from scratch. Here’s a classic version that is easily doubled or tripled.

Macaroni and Cheese

¼ cup butter

¼ cup flour

2 cups milk, heated

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

2 pinches cayenne pepper

8 oz. macaroni, cooked

½ cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

½ cup freshly made buttered bread crumbs*

For sauce, melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit. Do not brown. Add heated milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat. Add cheese and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Cover with waxed paper to prevent scum from forming.

Meantime, cook macaroni according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 1 ½ qt. casserole. Put cooked macaroni in casserole and pour cheese sauce over. Mix gently. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Sprinkle buttered bread crumbs over all. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and the sauce is bubbling, about 30 to 40 minutes. 4 servings.

*To make buttered bread crumbs, butter bread, then tear into chunks. Process in blender or food processor.

Comfort Menu #2

Roast Chicken

Mashed Potatoes

Mixed Vegetable Casserole

Hot Biscuits with Honey

Chocolate Pudding with Whipped Cream

Here’s a basic roast chicken inspired by one of Good Housekeeping’s most recent cookbooks, “The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook.”

Roast Chicken

With apple and thyme

3 ½ to 4 lb. chicken

2 sprigs plus l tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

¾ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. coarse ground black pepper

1/8 tsp. ground allspice

1 lb. onion, cut into wedges

¼ cup water

2 tsp. olive oil

2 large Granny Smith apples, cored and quartered

2 tbsp. applejack brandy, or Calvados, optional

½ cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove giblets and neck from chicken; reserve for another use. Rinse chicken inside and out with cold running water. Drain and pat dry with paper toweling.

With fingertips, gently separate skin on meat from chicken breast and place l sprig of thyme into skin of each side of the breast. Combine chopped thyme, salt, pepper and allspice.

Place chicken wings akimbo behind neck and tie legs with kitchen string.

In a medium roasting pan, toss onion, herb mixture, water and oil. Push onion mixture to the sides of pan. Place chicken, breast side up, on a rack in the center of the pan.

Roast chicken and onion mixture 40 minutes. Add apples and roast 20 minutes longer.

Chicken is done when juices run clear and thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 175 degrees. Transfer chicken to a warm platter; let stand 10 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, remove rack from roasting pan. With slotted spoon, transfer onion mixture to platter with chicken. Skim and discard fat from pan. Add applejack, if using, to pan drippings. Cook l minute over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth. Heat to boiling. Serve pan juices with chicken. 4 main dish servings.

Comfort Menu #3

Meatloaf

Italian green beans

Tossed salad with Italian dressing

Ice Cream with Butterscotch Sauce

Every cook knows that leftover (or planned-over) meatloaf makes great cold meatloaf sandwiches. This version was inspired by the Fanny Farmer Cookbook most recently redone by my professional friend, Marion Cunningham.

Meat Loaf

2 cups fresh bread crumbs**

1 onion, chopped fine

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 lb. ground beef

2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ tsp. dry mustard

1 ½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. fresh ground pepper

¾ cup milk

Catsup, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan. Combine all ingredients, except catsup, in a large bowl. Mix well (freshly washed hands are the best tool for the job).

Pat into prepared pan. Drizzle top with catsup, if desired. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until juices are clear. Remove from oven. Let stand 15 minutes.

**To make fresh bread crumbs, tear bread into chunks and process in blender or food processor.

 

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