Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Comfort Food

Although this is my cooking blog and I usually never post anything but recipes or fun food finds, I thought today I'd just talk about what food has meant to me this past week.

Two Sundays ago my grandmother passed away. It was unexpected, but not a surprise. She had been in ill-health, but the day before she died she spent 2 1/2 hours Christmas shopping at Walmart. She had been planning and living for the future and passed quietly; our family found great comfort in this.

As we were waiting for funeral arrangements and planning our travel back to the Midwest, I had two neighbors purchase snacks for our car trip. They knew we wouldn't be home so they used their creativity to bless us; it was one less thing to do. They purchased yummy treats that reminded us of their love each time we dipped into the stash of snacks. What a blessing!

Of course, when someone dies, food generally begins flowing into the deceased one's home to alleviate the family of that task and to bring comfort. There is comfort in eating when you are grieving. You certainly don't FEEL like eating, but being with family, sharing the outpouring love of neighbors and friends brings you comfort so you eat. Extended family and friends brought delicious food to my grandmother's home and we were grateful for the loving bounty.

There was a reception for everyone after the burial and again, the food was abundant. So many people cared in a very tangible way by providing and serving the food for our family. Our thanks could never be enough for their kindness. Much of that food returned to Grandma's house and we didn't even have to think about meal preparations for our large family.

On the last night there we used some of those leftovers, but we also pulled out some of Grandma's canned and fresh vegetables. My mom made a family-staple gravy from Grandma's bacon drippings to go with the fresh mashed potatoes and it was if we were sitting down to one of Grandma's feasts. When I sat down at the table and saw a meal that Grandma herself would have made, served in her own dishes it was overwhelmingly sad. I just wished she could have been there with us.

The very last notecard I received from my Grandma, which is still sitting in my mail slot, included two family recipes written in her own handwriting on 3x5 cards. She will never know how much I will cherish those index cards and recipes.

So, when you think about your food preparations this coming holiday season, please, just take the time to enjoy the traditions, the people and the gifts of food. So often we share love by feeding someone; I pray that you'll be blessed by both the bounty you receive and the bounty you share.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sausage Gravy

This is one of those recipes that my Great-Grandmother, Grand-Mother and Mother have perfected, but the "milk gravy" gene has stopped with me. I don't think I have enough patience. I also know that a cast iron skillet might have a little something to do with it; I always forget to use that thing! I don't make a "mean gravy," but I do make a passable one. Good luck!

Sausage Gravy & Biscuits


Canned biscuits
1/2-3/4 pound of sausage (I use bulk pork sausage)
Black pepper - loads of it!

4 cups of milk
4-6 tablespoons of flour

Prepare biscuits as instructed on package. Brown sausage in skillet. As soon as sausage is completely browned, remove from pan. Add flour by the tablespoon, stirring constantly. Let the flour turn DEEP GOLDEN BROWN. If you don't, your gravy will taste like flour. After you have added enough flour to make the gravy as thick as you like, add milk and stir with whisk. Add black pepper to taste. Return sausage to the skillet to rewarm as the milk thickens. *Patience is the key! :)

Serve over biscuits.

Recipe Given By: Angie Martens

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Peach-Banana Cream

This was one of the first recipes I made for my husband when we were first married. When we wed, I couldn't cook anything...not even a grilled cheese sandwich! He taught me how to cook and I used my Betty Crocker Cookbook like a Bible for the first year. This brings back lots of memories!

Peach-Banana Cream


1 can (16 oz.) sliced peaches, drained
1 pkg (3 3/4 oz) banana instant pudding and pie filling
1 C whipping cream
Place peaches in blender container. Cover and blend on high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add pudding and pie filling (dry) and whipping cream. Cover and blend on high speed, stopping blender frequently to scrape sides, until smooth and thickened, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle with ground nutmeg if desired.

Servings: 4
Recipe Given By: Betty Crocker's Cookbook under Apricot-Banana Cream
Hint: We garnish with added fruit on the top. Beware: this is a very sweet dessert so a little goes a long way. (You can substitute a 17 oz. can of apricot halves, drained for the peaches.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Easy Bake

Anyone, remember this contraption? The Easy Bake oven - the stuff dreams are made of for little girls; the nemesis of Mom's everywhere.

Katie LOVES to cook; actually, Katie LOVES anything to do with food. She faithfully watches the Food Network with her Dad and me and just a few nights ago told me that she would "try" the caramel apple with meal worms on it - a feature on a Halloween Food Network special. I believe she would try anything once; she's brave like her Daddy. I digress...

Anyway, Katie got the idea in her mind to break out the Easy Bake oven. We haven't done it for years. I balk at the idea of cooking a nasty tasting mix by a 100 watt bulb, especially one that costs $5.74. However, for the love of my children, I went back in my memory to recall the thrill of cooking in my own Easy Bake Oven. Being interpreted: I caved! I tried to talk her into "real baking" (Betty Crocker mix), but she would have none of it. So this past weekend, we gave it a go.

Here's the girl's sweet delights:

Yellow Cake with white frosting, ribboned in pink

Chocolate Cake with Pink Frosting, decorated with sprinkles

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ground Beef Stew

Years ago my husband asked me to stop making beef stew because I overcooked the meat every time. (Such talent I had!) Because of that, I looked for a beef stew that I didn't have to precook the meat. I'm sure I'll post that recipe sometime this winter, but until then here's a stew that you can throw into the crockpot. It's low-cost, family-friendly and hearty! I serve it with biscuits just like my Momma used to do.

Ground Beef Stew


1 lb. ground beef
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 pkg. (16 oz) baby carrots
3 C water
2 T. dry onion soup mix
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t. Italian seasoning
1 to 1 ½ t. salt
¼ t. garlic powder
¼ t. pepper
1 can (10 ¾ oz) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1 can (6 oz) Italian tomato paste

In a skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. In a slow cooker, combine the next nine ingredients. Stir in the beef. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours. Stir in soup and tomato paste; cover and cook for 1 hour or until heated through.

Servings: 28
Recipe Given By:
Quick Cooking
Hint: I'm sure this would freeze well, although it never lasts around my house long enough to find out.