Comfort foods to bring us home [macaroni and cheese]Living on the ‘wet coast’ you can expect some rain come Autumn, and November is known as our stormy season. But when I heard a report that it rained 28 out of the 31 days in October, that the typical amount of rain for the month of November was already surpassed within the first 10 days and there was still plenty more to come for the rest of the month, it started to get a little depressing. And what do we do when we start to feel gloomy and run down? Well, I for one look for comfort food to cheer me up. Luckily, on Facebook, there are a gazillion delicious recipes that everyone is sharing right now.

However, it got me to thinking, how much comfort food could really be out there? So, out of curiosity, I did a Google Search and I found over 8 million results. The first was the definition; according to Google, comfort food is food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically any with a high sugar or other carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking. Well, I thought, they certainly got the part about it needing to be high sugar or carb heavy right. No low-fat comfort food for this girl – what’s the point?! I mean really, how comforting is that?

So, I know what I like for comfort food, but I started to wonder what do my co-workers enjoy? So I asked them, ‘what makes you feel all warm and cozy inside when the weather/world gets nasty outside?’ The most popular response seemed to be homemade mac ‘n’ cheese (totally agree – yummy!!) and Heather was even kind enough to share her grandmother’s recipe (yay for us!):

Heather’s Grandma’s Homemade Mac’n’Cheese
(Making it always reminds me of her ~Heather)

3 cups – Macaroni
3 cups – Grated Old Cheddar Cheese (and can always add more, as Grandma would say – “you can never have enough cheese!”)
2-3 tbsp – Butter or Margarine
1/2 cup – Milk
1/4 cup – Flour
1 can – Mushroom Soup

1. Cook macaroni noodles to your liking.
2. In a pot, add butter/margarine, bring to a bubble; add milk, and stir in flour slowly.
3. When thick, add the mushroom soup, and the cheese to melt.
4. Pour over the macaroni.
5. Sprinkle with some cheese on top.
6. Bake for 45 minutes at 350.

= Yummy!

Tip: If you like the crispy top of a baked mac’n’cheese and would like more of it, use a baking sheet, spreading the mac’n’cheese across, instead of filling a baking dish. Works like a charm.

In second place we had homemade soup – with fresh bread of course (another one of my faves.). From the remainder of the responses I got, it was clear – I need to start inviting myself over for dinner more often – everything sounded so good:

  • Mom’s meatloaf (not just any meatloaf) smelled amazing in the oven and was our favourite thing for a Sunday night dinner. It was made with ground beef and ground pork, and she would roast potatoes in the pan beside the meatloaf — the potatoes were almost as good as the meatloaf, with a crispy outside from cooking in the fat from the meat. Not very healthy, maybe, but what comfort food is?
  • Roast chicken, garlic & Boursin mashed potatoes with gravy and stuffing – truth be told, it’s all about the stuffing (I would agree with that);
  • Mom’s hamburg stew – like shepherd’s pie, but the reverse and a little more runny gravy;
  • Nachos! Restaurant or homemade…doesn’t matter to me. Chicken, ground beef, pork…all fair game! BBQ chicken nachos would be my favourite. MmmMmm…
  • One of Kate’s favourites on one of those days when the world needs to go away – Southern Beef Dinner – “although I use ground chicken and switch frozen spinach for fresh”

A few other favourites are beef stew with a nice crusty bread or a beef pot roast with mashed potatoes and gravy. Something slow-cooked and savory. Lasagne and roast chicken are also near the top of the list.

The list wouldn’t be complete without the salty goodness of chips with chocolate (I mean really, is there anything better than sweet and salty together??).

It was apparent too, most if not all of the comfort foods that came to mind for us as staff also came with a sweet memory of home. I know all of the comfort foods that I enjoy bring me back to my childhood; be it cuddling up with my dad for our traditional Friday night pizza and a movie, or coming home from Sunday afternoon hockey and smelling mom’s amazing chili. Comfort food does just that. It comforts. It helps us mourn, it helps us celebrate, it helps us remember and when we need to, it brings us home.

So what is your favourite go-to comfort food?

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