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Comfort
Foods

Recipes:

LEMON BUTTERMILK
c sugar
c cornstarch
a pinch of salt
2 c buttermilk
the zest of 1 lemon, cut fine
the juice of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
    Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan and set aside. Mix together the buttermilk, lemon rind and lemon juice; gradually stir this into the sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils Continue to stir, and let it boil 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Beat the eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer. Gradually add a little of the hot mixture into the eggs while beating, then stir them into the remaining hot mixture. (This is the tricky bit; you want to heat the eggs gently and uniformly, so you don't get bits of scrambled egg floating about in the custard.) Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until this mixture thickens and boils. Continue to stir, and let it boil 1 minute. Serve warm or cold.


LEMON CURD SAUCE
the zest and juice of 2 large lemons
1 c sugar
4 T unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
2 eggs 
    Combine everything in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. Strain through a fine sieve and cool slightly before serving.


CHEDDAR SOUP
1 small onion, chopped
2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
4 T butter
salt, as desired
ground black pepper, as desired
3 T flour
1 (15 oz) can lima beans
2 c vegetable stock
1 c beer
8 oz cheddar cheese, grated
    Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, poblanos and a little salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Gradually stir in the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in the lima beans, stock and beer. Raise heat, bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and stir in the grated cheese. Add salt and pepper if needed. Makes 4 servings.


CHEESE DUMPLINGS IN TOMATO SAUCE
2 (14.5 oz) cans 'Italian recipe' stewed tomatoes
c water
salt, as desired
a few grinds of black pepper
2 c biscuit mix
1 c grated cheddar cheese
c milk
c dry red wine
    Drain the juice from the tomatoes into a 10-inch skillet. Cut the tomatoes small and add them to the skillet, along with the water and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Make a dough of the next 3 ingredients and drop by spoonfuls into the boiling tomatoes. Reduce heat, add the wine, cover and simmer 15 minutes.

WINTER FRUIT COMPOTE
1 T canola oil
3/4 c chopped onion
2 c fresh cranberries
tsp allspice
tsp cinnamon
the peeled zest of 1 orange
1 (12 oz) jar black currant jelly
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
    Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cranberries, allspice, cinnamon and orange zest. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries pop, about 7 minutes. Add the jelly, stirring until melted. Stir in the pineapple. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.

SWEET POTATO PRALINE CASSEROLE
3 eggs
5 lb (6 c) cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
2/3 c butter, melted
1/2 c heavy cream
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
    Beat the eggs and stir in the potatoes. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread evenly in a greased, shallow 2 quart baking dish and sprinkle with:
PRALINE TOPPING
1 c packed brown sugar
1/3 c flour
1 c finely chopped pecans
1/3 c butter, cut up small
pecan halves for garnish
    Mix the sugar, flour and nuts; work in the butter until well blended. Bake casserole 60 - 70 minutes, until the topping is browned and bubbly. Garnish with pecan halves. Serves 12.

BUTTERMILK SPICE BREAD
4 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
c canola oil
1 c sugar, divided
2 c buttermilk
2 eggs
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1 additional c sugar
    Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. Mix together the oil and 1-1/2 cups sugar, then add the buttermilk and the eggs, mixing well. Stir this into the dry ingredients just until all is moist. Pour half the batter into two greased 8-inch loaf pans. Combine spice and 1 cup sugar; sprinkle half of it over the batter. Repeat with the remaining batter and spiced sugar. Swirl a knife through the batter to marble it. Bake at 350F, 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes our clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.


CHOCOLATE PUDDING: LOWFAT & SIMPLE
2 c skim milk
tsp cinnamon
c sugar
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
3 T cornstarch
a pinch of salt
    Heat 2 cups of the milk and the cinnamon until hot. In another pan, combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Blend the remaining c milk into this; add the hot milk. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until boiling. Lower the heat a bit, and cook one minute, stirring constantly. Pour into dishes and chill. Makes 4 servings.


BUTTERSCOTCH PUDDING
2 egg yolks
2 c milk
c cornstarch
1/3 c sugar
a pinch of salt
c butterscotch chips
2 T Scotch whiskey
    Beat the yolks and milk together well. Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a saucepan and whisk in the milk and egg yolk mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until it thickens and comes just to a boil, 8 - 10 minutes. Add the butterscotch chips and stir until they are melted and the pudding is smooth. Stir in the Scotch. Pour into individual bowls and refrigerate until well chilled. Makes 4 servings


SWEET POTATO PUDDING CAKE
1 large sweet potato, cooked and mashed (1 c)
2 ripe bananas, mashed (1 c)
1 c milk
2 T brown sugar
tsp vanilla
tsp cinnamon
tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
c flour
c raisins, finely chopped
    Beat together the sweet potato and bananas. Beat in the milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and eggs, then add the flour and raisins, mixing well. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch cake pan and bake at 325F for 45 - 60 minutes or until the cake is firm and the top is golden brown. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Serves 6 - 8


CLAFOUTI
3 eggs
1 c buttermilk
c flour
c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 (14.5 oz) can tart red cherries, drained
confectioners' sugar, to dust
    Beat the eggs; beat in the buttermilk, flour, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread the cherries in a greased 8-inch baking dish, and pour the batter over them. Bake uncovered at 350F until golden brown, 45 - 60 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Serve warm.

HEADQUARTERS BROWNIES
    (These have comforted many a politico through many a hard-fought campaign.)
2 sticks butter
4 oz baking chocolate
4 eggs
2 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c flour
    Melt together chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Beat the eggs until thick; beat in the sugar and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the chocolate/butter mixture. Add flour and mix well. Bake at 350F in a greased 9 x 13" cake pan for 25 minutes, or until just set. DO NOT OVERBAKE. (A brownie baked until it is "done" is a brownie overbaked.) Cool completely on wire racks before cutting into squares.

ORAL GRATIFICATIONS
2 T butter, melted
1 tsp powdered dessert coffee mix (e.g. "International Coffees")
c confectioners' sugar
tsp milk
2 T creamy peanut butter
    Mix the butter with the coffee powder and stir in the confectioners' sugar. Add the milk and mix until smooth. Add the peanut butter and form into a soft dough. Roll into half-inch balls, place on waxed paper and flatten into thick disks.  Makes about a dozen.




"When it feels like no one listens
And it seems like no one hears you call
When your star no longer glistens
I'll be there to catch you
You won't fall
You won't fall"
-- Ian McCulloch,
Baby Hold On

    "Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love."
       -- Song of Solomon, 2:5.

    In my experience, chocolate generally works better. Here are some other foods that I have found efficacious:
Þ peanut butter and jelly: equal parts, mixed together. Forget the bread
Þ hot buttered rice
Þ plain cheesecake
Þ stuffing - the kind you had for Thanksgiving or Christmas
Þ hot black tea, with milk
Þ garlic bread
Þ cinnamon toast
Þ warm muffins, with lots of butter
Þ buttermilk
Þ mashed potatoes and gravy
Þ Fig Newtons
Þ a nice, bland dip with a lot of mayonnaise in it and some salty potato chips
Þ lima beans, served over grated cheese, with Trappey's hot sauce
Þ cottage cheese, seasoned with a few grinds of black pepper
Þ hot milk, with a little honey in it
Þ vanilla ice cream, with a little honey on it
Þ a pimento cheese sandwich
Þ peaches

THE IMPORTANCE OF EATING MUFFINS

    Jack: "How can you sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can't make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless."
    Algernon: "Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."
    Jack: "I say it's perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances."
    Algernon: "When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. ... At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins."
    -- Oscar Wilde,
The Importance of Being Earnest


    "In December, keep yourself warm and sleep."
       -- Edith Holden,
Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady

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