Monday, October 10, 2011

Comfort Food

The calendar says its fall. The trees say its fall. But, currently, Michigan weather is acting like summer.

And I think that it isn't technically "Indian Summer" yet, because we haven't had a hard frost. But, how lovely to look out the window and see my daisies going to town. Or to run through this glorious template of colors. Fall used to be my least favorite season. It seemed bleak. Grey. Not cool. Now I embrace it. I've  begun to appreciate the nuances of each season. I like fall because its my birthday season. May as well like it.=) This year I am going to be 33-which is much closer to 40 than 20. I am so getting old. NOT cool. But I am going to be one of those seniors embodied in this youtube video clip

But, I like fall too because of food. I love food. Fall is the best time for cider and cinnamon sugar donuts. I love donuts. But how about all those dishes you retire for the summer and pull out as you turn the calendar to September and October? Like mashed potatoes. Or soup. If I ever open a restaurant, I will do soups, sandwiches and breads. A family favorite is my dill potato soup. So totally not good for you, but just plain good! I think chunky is better when it comes to soup. This would be in contrast to "depression era" soups-heavy on the broth, light on the chunks. Chicken noodle soup chock full of chicken, noodles, celery hearts (did you know you can have cute little hearts if you don't slice the stalk of celery lengthwise, just crosswise?), carrots, and onions. It works its magic for your belly and your heart. Or the Dutch staple-split pea soup. A meaty ham bone, a pound of peas, some carrots, celery onion, and maybe a potato or two.

We eat soup probably once a week at our house during the fall and winter. I will supplement it with fresh rolls, french bread or biscuits and jam. I like to use the Better Homes and Gardens basic biscuit recipe, but I always use butter. Like Paula Dean, I believe almost everything is improved with butter. And, it is so time saving to open a stick of butter to cut into your biscuit dry ingredients than to have to measure out shortening. I mean, what a mess!=) I just make the drop biscuits. And they are amazing. Really. Bake them, let them cool for about 10 minutes, and then spread them with homemade jam. A taste of heaven.

Red Check Biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
-Mix all together.
-Use a pastry cutter to cut in 1 stick of softened butter until mixture resembles peas.
-Stir in 1 cup of milk with a fork until all the batter is moistened. Spoon out 12 large biscuits onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

And a new soup to try:

Chunky Tomato Soup
5 Italian sausage links, removed from casings and browned
2 Tbsp flour
1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste
2 cups dry white or red wine
2 chicken bullion cubes
2 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 medium onions
1 large green pepper
2 quarts stewed tomatoes, or 4 (16 oz) cans
2 cups water
4 cloves garlic
1 can ripe olives, halved lengthwise, optional
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, optional

-In a 4-5 quart pan, fry sausage in 1 Tbsp oil until browned.
-Meanwhile, mix paste, flour, basil, salt, pepper and wine until smooth. Puree one quart or 2 cans of tomatoes in your blender, then add tomatoes to the tomato paste/flour mixture. Pour all onto sausage once it is browned.
-Chop onion into big chunks-like 8ths or 16ths. Slice green pepper into thin strips. Mince garlic. Add to tomatoes and sausage. Bring to a boil, the simmer for 30 minutes or so. Add olives and mushrooms just before serving.

This tomato soup is really good with grilled cheese sandwiches. A medium cheddar or a colby, or a cojack. Amazing.=)

not buttery biscuits,
but crunchy french bread is as good or better

Seriously, comfort doesn't come from food. Or shouldn't. But you know what I mean. That steaming bowl of soup on a crisp day. That crunch of fresh bread. Sigh...