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Recipes and Stories

16 March 2023: Comfort Casserole

Ground Beef and Potato Casserole, Sort of as My Mother Used to Make It

16 March 2023: Comfort Casserole


It's funny how we all talk about "comfort food" as if it's a simple, clearly defined thing. From time to time we even see stories about an "ultimate" comfort food such as mashed potatoes. But the reality is that the concept is among the most complicated and ill-defined in all cooking, mainly because it's completely subjective.


What we find comforting is wrapped up in our individual taste preferences (which often defy everything else) and our experiences: where we were born, where we were raised, what the cooking of our family was like, how often and far we have traveled, what the climate was like at the homes of our formative years, and even what the climate is like in the places we call home now.


There are people for whom—shock of shocks—mashed potatoes would not be a comfort at all, never mind an "ultimate" one.


Likewise, there are undoubtedly a lot of people for whom a casserole of any kind would not even appeal.  Read More 

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11 March 2023: Mama's Bread Pans and Buttermilk Bread

Mama's Buttermilk Yeast Bread, baked in her small loaf pans


Once my parents were finally settled into assisted living and we knew for certain they were never going back to their house again, last fall my elder brother and his wife began the daunting task of decluttering it. Thirty years is a long time for two children of The Great Depression to be saving everything and letting it all accumulate in a relatively small house.


The kitchen/breakfast room, after Dad's study, was possibly the biggest challenge. There were six sets of dishes (my obsession with tableware came honestly), a collection of Revereware and Corningware that would supply at least three households, enough saved twist-ties to fill a 10-gallon garbage bag, enough plastic fruit containers to fill twice that many, and stacks of mail, old newspapers, and magazines (my Dad's contribution) to fill at least three lawn-and-leaf bags.


And in all that, not a single decent knife—but I digress.


When asked whether I might want any of the tableware/cookware, my immediate and emphatic answer was "Lord, no!" My own kitchen  Read More 

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