Friday Food. Nostalgia.

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How many times do you smell something cooking or take that first bite of something and you’re transported back in time to a special occasion or your childhood, Grandma’s house or getting a quick bite before a doctor’s appointment?

Whenever we have baked sweet potatoes, pools of melted butter mixing in with the soft, sweet flesh I always think back to when I was sick. I was sitting up in my parents’ bed and on my lap was a plate with a hot sweet potato, butter melting as I mashed it in the skin with a fork. It is the best tasting thing in the world, and it makes me feel calm and better.

Speaking of food when you’re sick, chicken noodle soup is known by some as Jewish penicillin and the ingredients blend together to make the common cold disappear or at least wave away the symptoms so sleep will come.

Chicken Noodle Soup.
(c)2021

Other of my comfort food favorites include:

The perfect grilled cheese. Two to three slices of cheese depending on their thickness. Instead of buttering the bread, I put the butter in the pan as if I was doing French toast. Before flipping, I add more butter. I cover the sandwich with a pan lid until the cheese is perfectly melty. I have also used ghee instead of butter, and this is an excellent substitute.

Perfect Grilled Cheese.
(c)2021

Matzo ball soup. I use a box mix, which says to simmer for twenty minutes. I let it simmer for an hour, at least, sometimes longer. After the first half an hour, I’ll add baby carrots (fresh or frozen), some chives, and leave it until dinner time. Delicious.

Matzo Ball Soup.
(c)2021

Macaroni and Cheese. Kraft. The blue box. (The 7oz. one.) I use butter and not margarine and add milk for creaminess. I could eat this all day, every day, and I am the only one in my house who makes it right. (That’s not me saying it; that’s the rest of them.)

Macaroni and Cheese.
(c)2021

Fruit and Sour Cream. I don’t know when in childhood I started eating this, but it is delicious, and healthy, and comfort food at its best. I cut fresh fruit into pieces and put in a bowl, add sour cream, and that’s it! No sugar, no granola, no nothing; just fruit and sour cream. My favorite fruits to use are: bananas, strawberries, blueberries, peaches. It can be all or some, but the bananas are a must. (I have no idea why!)

Fresh Fruit with Sour Cream.
(c)2021

Soup’s On!

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For the last six Wednesdays, beginning with Ash Wednesday, my parish has been delivering soup weekly during Lent. Typically during Lent, they would have a noon Mass and then have a community soup lunch in the parish center, but since covid arrived last spring, this was their reaction to the cancelling: a limited delivery service for the remaining weeks of last year. In 2021, they started delivering right at the beginning.

It’s been a wonderful idea and example of works put into action. Every week, my family looks forward to seeing which soup is that week’s, and tasting something that we normally would not have made ourselves.

Since the kids are learning remotely, they are home to run outside when we hear the car in the driveway and bring in four soup-bowl sized containers filled with the steaming hot soup of the day along with four soft pieces of (usually sourdough) bread for dipping or spreading with butter on the side.

Every slurp of broth, every bite of fresh vegetables is a reminder of the greater community of the church. There are gatherings in the parish kitchen (covid protocols always in place), chopping, cooking, ladling, packaging, and delivering our midday bounty. And for us at home there is a brief respite from our individual remote workings to come together even for a moment for each of us to collect our containers, talk a minute about what kind of soup, and appreciate the greater community around us.

Creamy Vegetable Chowder, Hamburger Barley, Cheesy Potato & Corn Chowder, Tuscan White Bean, Rye bread, Corned Beef & Cabbage, and Chicken Pot Pie, Pastry round.
(c)2021

It is a time when all of us at home can come together to enjoy the offering midday, mid-week, mid-Lent. We share the same meal, unlike most lunches during the work and school day, and we ooh and aah as our taste buds come alive. A couple of times I was able to enjoy lunch with my kids when their lunches coincided with the delivery.

We find out that our parish cooks like pepper and/or garlic depending on the soup. In mid-March one of the soups that contained corn had the most delicious, crunchy kernels of corn. It tasted like summer corn and I savored every tiny bite. Chunks of tomato in the bean soup surprising me (in good ways) with its red broth rather than white. They were all delicious and filling and made for a wonderful, satisfying lunch. There was rye bread with the corned beef and cabbage soup and a cracker sized pie crust round to go with the chicken pot pie soup, both wonderful change-ups and delicious.

On the last day we received a cheerful card from the students in youth ministry. I’m already looking forward to next Lent and hoping that they do this again. I’m not ready to give up my weekly soup so I even made matzo ball soup on the weekend for Passover.

Card received from youth ministry.
(c)2021

I don’t have any of their recipes, but I’m sure varieties of them can be googled, so I will include the names of the weekly selections: Creamy Vegetable Chowder, Hamburger Barley, Cheesy Potato & Corn Chowder, Tuscan White Bean, Corned Beef & Cabbage, and Chicken Pot Pie.

Soup

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Soup is one of those comfort foods that cross over all demographics – economically, culturally, all the ways. Every culture has its own soup specialty – Italian Wedding Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup, Gazpacho, New England Clam Chowder…I’m sure you can name ten more.

During Lent, my church renewed its yearly tradition of noon Mass followed by a soup lunch, beginning with Ash Wednesday. When shelter-at-home orders came down, they decided to continue the Wednesday soups through no-contact delivery. This occurred for three weeks, and the delicious selections were: Creamy Vegetable Chowder, Hamburger Barley, and Chicken Noodle. They were amazing!

For Easter, I made matzo ball soup for part of our dinner. I know that matzo ball soup doesn’t quite sound like part of an Easter meal, but it was also Passover, and everyone in the family loves it, so really, I can’t go wrong.

I just noticed in the below picture that all three soups, made by different cooks, all have carrots!

Soup is comfort for the soul, and for the stomach. I’ve found blowing on the hot soup and watching the steam rise like incense in the church is very nearly a prayer for the gift of soup, and the gift of love and friendship. Mmm, mmm, good.

Soups: Matzo Ball, Chicken Noodle, Hamburger Barley. (c)2020

30 Days of Nano – Day 9

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Easy Meals

1. Crock-pot Lasagna – this is amazing and easy. My family loves it!

2. Quiche – another quick and easy, delicious family meal.

3.  Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (in the blue box)

4. Casserole made from leftovers – mix the leftovers, add a sauce (pasta, Worcestershire, gravy, HP sauce), if you have rice put it on the bottom, if you have mashed potatoes, spread it on top, add shredded cheese, and bake for thirty minutes at 350°.

5. Pour a can of Chunky soup over cooked rice. You can add cheese, sour cream, crackers, croutons, onion or tortilla strips.

Now, that dinner is finished, get back to writing!