One of my favorite days of the year is coming up, the Sunday that we fall back, and I gain an extra hour. Before I stated working weekends this extra hour was extra time spent sleeping or doing just nothing. Now on Saturday night I enjoy going to bed knowing I have an extra hour to sleep before my alarm clock goes off for work or if I am reading a good book, I know that I can stay up a little longer.
LinnieGayl’s comfort food blog and the recent colder weather started to remind me of dishes I typically eat during the winter. One of the first dishes I turn to is beans. With my parent’s southern roots, even living in the west, I grew up on a lot of pots of beans. Pinto beans, and great northern beans with a ham bone were big favorites of my mother and I don’t really remember those dishes being seasonal. However when it turned cold my mother turned to a big pot of chili or stew.
I don’t do the stew but always turn to chili. In fact, I am probably going to make chili today. I don’t have any special recipe and to be honest sometimes my dish is good and sometime it is average. So I thought maybe I need a more definite recipe instead of a little bit of this and that.
Ah, comfort foods. We all have them. When it suddenly turns cold. When it’s raining. When we’re sick or stressed, comfort foods can bring immense relief. For some of us all it takes is some good chocolate. For others it’s ice cream. I do have my moments when the supreme comfort food is sweet, generally in the form of rice pudding or tapioca pudding. But most of the time my ultimate comfort food is savory. And for me, nothing quite says comfort like tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.
And what’s not to love about the combination (well, aside from the calories). They’re creamy and warm, particularly nice for the suddenly cold weather. And they harken back to my childhood when my mother would make me tomato soup (Campbell’s, of course, made with milk) and a grilled cheese sandwich (white bread with Velveeta cheese).
I’ve definitely moved beyond my childhood grilled cheese sandwiches, preferring them now on whole wheat or bakery bread of some kind. I also like to experiment with various combinations of cheeses, and usually add something to the mix, be it sliced green olives, or diced sun dried tomatoes, or even some slices of fruit (apples and pears are particularly nice). But I haven’t strayed very far from the Campbell’s cream of tomato soup. Once in awhile I’ll buy some fancy tomato soup in the deli, but that’s about it. Until today.
After dealing with a lot of stress the past few weeks I decided I really wanted some comfort food this weekend. But instead of Campbell’s, I’m going to try a recipe my friend posted on her blog for making your own tomato soup. With ingredients like Worcestershire sauce (huge fan), white wine, basil, and a variety of tomato products, it sounds like a hit. So this afternoon I’m going to give the recipe a try. Along with it I’ll be making a grilled cheese sandwich (on some whole wheat flat-type bread) made with a mix of cheddar and mozzarella, with sliced green olives and a bit of whole grain mustard. Sounds like the perfect thing for a chilly afternoon.
What about you? Do you have any go-to comfort foods? Do you ever experiment with them, or do you stick with the tried-and-true?
Brain Cookies with Blood Glaze
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2002 .
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup very finely chopped walnuts, or pecans
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- About 5 drops red food coloring
- About 9 drops blue food coloring
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 35 to 40 drops red food coloring
- 2 to 4 tablespoons milk, as needed for thinning glaze
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Into a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Alternating with the eggs, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating well after the addition of each. Fold in the nuts, vanilla, and red and blue food coloring, being careful not to overmix the dough. (The food coloring will make the dough a grayish color, resembling the color of brains.)
Place the dough in batches in a potato ricer and push the dough out onto the prepared baking sheets in long tubes of dough. With your fingers, loosely pat and arrange the dough strands into clumps resembling brains, pushing to form 2 hemispheres and shaping into a walnut-like shape. Bake until golden brown on the bottom, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To make the “blood glaze,” in a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar with the food coloring to make a thick glaze, whisking together. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the glaze is a good consistency for drizzling. Drizzle the “blood” onto the cookies and serve either warm or at room temperature.
- – Leigh AAR
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQ0L7O_khbs[/youtube]I have very mixed feelings about Suzanne Vega. When I was at university, for six months I lived next door to this very nice girl named JoAnn, who loved listening to music. Really loved it. Did I mention the walls were thin? Her favorite albums were Suzanne Vega’s Solitude Standing and Tracy Chapman’s Tracy Chapman. And believe me, there are only so many times a day you want to listen to Tom’s Diner or Talking ’bout a Revolution. That said, I have since recovered from Vega overload and have come to quite like her. Luka, with its harrowing lyrics and lovely melody, is probably my favorite song by her.
Are there songs that you hated due to ever-exposure in the past, but that you like now?
- Rike Horstmann
Sometimes we think we are having a really bad day. Check out this video. I don’t know who has it worst – the people trying to get the baby elephant out of the well, the baby elephant, or the mama elephant.
- – Leigh AAR
Maggie first talked about Gangnam Style in her September blog. I am not sure who to give credit to for this mashup. David Haglund wrote about it on SLATE but YouTube says it is by FAROFF. Anyway somebody decided that this song would work perfectly with the 1984 Ghostbusters theme song by Ray Parker, Jr. Who thinks of these things? Continue reading
Post-presidential debate, a new sub-genre of Amazon reviews crops up:
- Jean AAR
This year, for the first time ever I have made plum jam according to my mother’s recipe. It worked out beautifully, I now don’t understand why I never made it before, and it’s so easy! Here’s how you make it:
The main ingredient is 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of common plums (prunus domestica domestica) or zwetschges – the names for this sort of plum may vary regionally, but they are dark blueish purple and oval (see below; these are from our garden) – with the stones removed. Continue reading
Found this heartwarming story on the web yesterday. Sometimes it is just nice to start the day out with feel good news.
And of course you know I am a sucker for dog stories.
(Fantasizing of an Australian vacation)
– Leigh AAR