Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Comfort Food

Another day of snow, rain, sleet, and ice is what is on tap for today's weather here in Long Island. That sounds like a day for comfort food.  Watch a movie, read a book, listen to music, and drink something warm and cozy all under a big crochet or knitted afghan.  To me that sounds wonderful ! Comfort food is what we all need once in a while to bring back those warm days of being home with family. Memories of winter when I was growing up were always days of comfort. Especially when it was snowing.  My brothers and I would come home from school and we were always greeted by my Mother with open arms. The house was warm from the oven that was cooking our dinner. As the aromas encircled our heads we knew that something good was cooking in the kitchen.
The kitchen was and still is the heart of our home. Our family did everything in the kitchen.  It was a small room compared to the kitchens of today, but that made it even better as it was our gathering place.  We would talk at the kitchen table, we did our homework there, and read the newspaper among many other family projects. It always seemed that as my Mother was cooking or baking we gravitated to that room. Maybe because it was a happy place to be with everyone while we were waiting for dinner.  Sometimes my Mom and Dad would take out a deck of cards and play Rummy or Kings Corners with us, remember at that time there weren't any of the electronic games or computers that we have today. Not even cell phones. We had one phone in the house with a few extensions that would go into my parents room. But the main phone was in the kitchen.  So cards and board games were always at hand. I remember the kitchen windows would be foggy with steam from the warmth of the kitchen, as we tried to look out to see when my Dad would be coming home from work.  
As it was time to set the table for dinner, my brothers and I would argue over who would put out the napkins and silverware.  As we had our dinner we would talk about the days events, and God forbid that the phone would ring and it was one of our friends, that was a no-no. Dinner time was for family and nothing could come between that.
Now dinner was always a hearty and comforting meal, especially on cold days. Meat loaf, stews, hearty soups, pasta dishes, and pot pies were the menus for those days of cold, snow, and rain. Pot pies were always fun and good to eat. You had the top crust which smelled and tasted like a pie, plus the warm cut up pieces of chicken and vegetables in a delicious gravy. Once you opened the little individual pies the gravy would float over the crust and all of the insides would flow out. My Mom and Dad insisted upon a salad every night with dinner. It was made with lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. Sometimes we would put in the salad, red onions, cut up fresh peppers and radishes. Then after we finished our dinner, dessert would be a welcomed friend. Either pudding, Jell-O, fruit, ice cream or a piece of cake. Memories are so much fun to think about. Especially when they were always good times with my family in the kitchen. 
I am going to post a recipe of one of my favorite comfort foods,

Chicken Pot Pie....    
  Ready In: 1 Hr
Ingredients:1 (15 ounce) package refrigerated pie crust
1 (10.5 ounce) can Campbell's Chicken Gravy
3 cups cooked cut-up vegetables*
2 (4.5 ounce) cans Swanson Premium Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained or fresh cooked cut up chicken breast

Stir the gravy, vegetables and chicken in a medium bowl. Spoon the chicken mixture into the pie plate. Place the remaining pie crust over the filling. Press the edges to seal. Cut several slits in the top crust.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
*Use a combination of sliced carrots, peas and cubed potatoes.

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