Comfort foods offer sustenance and some solace


Last updated 11/9/2007 at Noon

Sweeping, washing, waiting and doing what one can is all that one can do…and that is enough for the day. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

And life must go on.

Even those who lost nothing material during the recent wildfires suffer in many ways. For many, cooking and taking food to neighbors is a part of their own healing and recovery from the tragedy.

All week the thought “comfort food” kept winding through my mind and so, again, this week, a selection of good, time-tested recipes for you to enjoy and perhaps make for those in need.

A hearty potato soup with bread and a salad is a satisfying meal that sustains. It is also simple and fast to prepare…it’s probably ready in less than 45 minutes.

Potato Chowder

8 slices bacon

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cups small cubed potatoes

1 cup water

1 cup cream of chicken soup

1 ¾ cup milk

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

¼ cup minced parsley

1 cup sour cream

Fry bacon. Sauté onion in bacon fat. Drain well. In a saucepan, combine potatoes and water. Cook slowly until potatoes are partly cooked. Add onion, soup and sour cream. Gradually add milk. Add seasonings. Crumble bacon and add to soup. Simmer (do not boil). Garnish with parsley and serve.

Beef is satisfying. Here, ground beef is the base for a hearty barley soup that comes together quickly. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled so there will be plenty to share.

Easy Beef Barley Soup

½ pound ground beef

2 ½ cups cold water

1 large can tomatoes, cut up

¾ cup sliced carrots

¾ cup sliced mushrooms

½ cup quick barley, uncooked

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ lb. American-style cheese, cubed

Brown meat in a large saucepan. Drain. Stir in water, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, garlic and oregano. Bring to a boil and simmer until barley is tender. Season to taste. Add cheese. Stir until cheese melts and serve.

Familiar foods are comforting. Here is a Jell-O salad that often graces family holiday tables, church potlucks and community meetings.

Old-Fashioned Jell-O Cottage Cheese Salad

1 (3-oz.) pkg. regular flavored Jell-O gelatin

1 cup boiling water

2 cups miniature marshmallows

Pinch salt

1 (9-oz) can crushed pineapple

2 cups small curd cottage cheese

1 cup whipped cream, whipped

½ cup chopped nuts, optional

Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Add marshmallows and let melt. Stir in salt and pineapple. Chill until slightly thickened. Fold in cottage cheese and whipped cream. Garnish with nuts, if using.

A big baked ham, potato casserole, tossed salad and bread: dinner is served! This casserole makes enough for 10 to 12 and starts with convenient packaged frozen potatoes.

Potato Casserole for a Crowd

2 lb. frozen hash browns (32 to 36 oz.)

¼ cup melted butter

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

½ cup chopped onion

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 pint sour cream

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Defrost potatoes. Combine potatoes and butter in a large bowl. Add rest of ingredients and mix carefully. Pour into a greased 9x13-inch pan. Bake in a 350-degree for 45 minutes. Serves 10-12.

Packaged biscuit mix combines to make this makes-its-own crust quiche…it just doesn’t get any easier!

Simple Quiche

4 slices bacon

½ cup biscuit mix

1/3 cup melted butter

1 ½ cups whole milk

3 eggs

1/8 tsp. salt

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

Fry bacon until crisp; drain and crumble. Beat eggs, biscuit mix, butter, milk, salt and pepper until smooth. Pour into a 9-inch or 9 ½-inch pie plate. Sprinkle with bacon and cheese. Press slightly. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Digging into my recipe box, this simple cobbler recipe comes from my dear Aunt Mildred. Make two: one for your family…one for a family in need.

Two Fruit Cobblers

4 cans canned peaches, or apricots

2 pkg. white cake mix

2 sticks butter

Place fruit into two ungreased 9x13-inch baking pans. Spread 1 package dry cake mix over pan. Slice one stick butter over dry cake mix. Bake in a 300-degree oven for 45 minutes to one hour until golden brown and crunchy.

Three ingredients combine for this simple glazed chicken. It’s another recipe that is easily doubled or tripled…just use a larger pan…or make it in several pans.

Glazed Chicken

1 envelope (1 3/8 oz.) dry onion soup mix

1 cup apricot jam

1 bottle (8 oz.) Russian salad dressing

1 medium to large fryer, cut up

Mix all but chicken and spread in 9x13-inch pan. Lay chicken in mixture and turn over, leaving skin-side down. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 ¼ hours. Turn chicken and bake 30 minutes longer or until fork-tender. 4 servings.


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