Monday, October 2, 2017

Around the Kitchen Table -- Comfort Food


LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  The seasons are changing, and with it, what we eat. No more fresh peaches or berries. Up here in the north, the pots of herbs are coming inside, there's a colander filled with the last tomatoes on the counter, and the deer and bears have left a few apples on our ancient Red Delicious tree. It's the season for comfort food.

A few years ago, a friend went into rapture, fantasizing about a fresh ragu -- an herby tomato sauce -- simmering on her stove, and called it the ultimate comfort food. I laughed -- to me, the ultimate comfort food is mac 'n cheese, smooth, creamy, maybe with a few herbs and toasted breadcrumbs for crunch, but none of the spicy bursts of flavor of a rich tomato sauce. I gave that conversation to my girl Erin in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, but she plays the part of the surprised Italian girl who goes to college and discovers that to others, comfort food was grilled cheese, custard, or bread pudding. Pumpkin muffins. Breakfast for dinner. (I swear, I was probably 40 when it occurred to me that my mother made pancakes and sausage for dinner occasionally not as a treat for the kids, but because she needed a little mothering herself!)

What says comfort food to you, dear readers? Include your email address in your comment for a chance to win a terrific Mystery Lovers' Kitchen tote bag! (US and Canada addresses only, please.)



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Daryl: I've made it very clear, Leslie, in post after post that grilled cheese and mac and cheese say comfort to me.  I love adding all sorts of goodies to both. To grilled cheese? Avocado, bacon, shrimp. To mac and cheese, bacon. When is bacon not a comfort food?  I adore meatloaf packed with herbs and onions. This simply reminds me of my mother. She made a dynamite meatloaf, and her recipe (tweaked) is still what I use. My husband loved my meatloaf. And last but not least, ice cream! Any time of the day and night. I don't care how cold it is outside. I love ice cream. Which is probably why I like to make it. I love the sound of the churn. I love the aroma of vanilla and whatever else I add to the ice cream. And I like the way ice cream "chills" my stomach. It's like a
natural "anti-inflammatory."  LOL  Ah, comfort food. Do we need autumn and winter to enjoy it? Nope. Year-round comfort food is definitely a necessity.


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Sheila: When I started thinking about my go-to comfort foods, I realized I had a few semi-scientific pieces of evidence. I've been collecting recipes and cookbooks for a long time, and the first clue is to look at my well-used cookbooks and find the pages with the most grease stains. My first copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking has quite a few pages like that, mainly for beef and chicken dishes. (I could use the same test on the cookbooks I inherited from my mother: the recipe for chocolate sauce in her 1948 edition of Fanny Farmer's Boston Cooking School Cook Book may lead the pack.)

But a more important clue is how often I've made a particular dish over the years, no matter what the source. For that one, I think Apple Goody stands out. It's a recipe that comes from the mother of one of my long-ago roommates, back in the 1970s. I knew her mother for years, and I still get together regularly with my friend. The recipe is simple: apples, cinnamon, flour, sugar (brown and white) and butter. Bake and enjoy. I can't begin to count the number of times I've made that, both for guests or to take to a pot-luck, or just to eat myself. I even included it in one of my Orchard Mysteries.

So while the collected works of Julia Child are dear to my heart, Apple Goody is the all-time winner.


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Linda:  When I think of something comforting, I think of my Mom. I may have mentioned that she wasn't a great cook but what she made was all we needed, or thought we needed, at the time. So I'd say my comfort food is applesauce. She'd make it from scratch and I can still remember the wonderful aroma that filled the kitchen. She'd team it up with pork chops or baked beans. Often, when I wasn't feeling well, it would be an entire meal in itself. On toast, was also a good choice.
 It makes me think of being tucked up in a soft bed under a warm comforter or sitting on the couch while a storm rages outside. Of course, I'm always eating in these thoughts -- applesauce, it would seem.

I have to admit, I've never made applesauce but obviously, with such good memories attached, I should make the effort real soon. Maybe you can supply me with a tasty recipe, Sheila! 



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Krista: Linda, I remember my mom grating apples as a home remedy when I was a kid. She made applesauce, too, but it's the raw grated apples that I recall because I never could figure out why they were supposed cure anything.

Mac and cheese is a favorite comfort food for me. We never had it growing up. Never!  I don't often make it now, but I do love that creaminess.

Like Daryl, I'm a complete fool for ice cream, but mostly in the summer. As the weather cools, my consumption drops off until the special flavors come around for the holidays. Peppermint anyone?

But I'll go out on a limb here and suggest something that I have been known to whip up very late on cold nights-warm chocolate pudding. Pudding is fine when it's cold, but there's nothing quite as soothing as warm pudding, eaten straight from the pot.  


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Peg: Like Krista, we never had mac and cheese growing up! I don't really remember any comfort foods from my childhood--the association is really with things I make now like shepherd's pie and sauce bolognese and pretty much any kind of soup except tomato (which I don't care for!).  I could eat a whole bowl of mashed potatoes for dinner--that's comfort to me.  And pair them with roast chicken, and I'm in heaven!  

Lucy: I love love macaroni and cheese, but eating salty stuff is a no-no for me right now. On Sundays as a kid, we had cheese toast, baked beans, and potato salad on TV trays in front of whatever program was on--that's comfort food to me. All those carbs! These days, how about a nice peach or cherry cobbler, right out of the oven, with whipped cream?? Or a chicken pot pie?

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Victoria:  I find this whole discussion very comforting.  Food in general offers comfort to me, but there's something special about the smell of fresh bread or biscuits, warm from the oven and served up with butter. I love it when they area bit savory, like these with chives. There should be a pot of tea nearby and someone to chat with, over the warm biscuits.





Cleo: All of your comfort foods sound good to me! I'll add homemade cookies to that list...
Angel Wings (aka) Italian Bow Tie Cookies
For the recipe, click here.




As a little girl, I loved helping my Italian-born Aunt Mary make what she called "Italian Bow Tie" cookies. Some of you may remember them as "Angel Wings" or Chrusciki (the Polish version). In Hungary, they are called Csöröge. In France, Bugnes Lyonnaises. In the Ukraine, Verhuny. In any language, they are delicious and sweet comfort for those of us who remember eating them as children.

May you, too, eat with comfort and joy!






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What says comfort food to you, dear readers? 





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84 comments:

  1. Comfort food to me is something that I enjoy making for family get-togethers (i.e. family recipes that are always made/saved for special occasions). EMS591@aol.com

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  2. I feel that way too, Liz! Usually the special foods evoke happy memories! No that is comforting! Hugs. MJ

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  3. My favorite comfort foods are my Mom’s meatloaf and pretty much any kind of soup.
    sgiden@verizon(.)net

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    1. I'm a soup girl, too! So warm and comforting! I think my meatloaf is comfort food for my kids and even some of their friends!

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    2. Soup for me. .love making it, trying new recipes. .the aroma, and tasting. I eat soup all year round. .there's something about the sound of simmering. .so pleasing.

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  4. My comfort foods are what my mom made me when I was sick as a kid; grilled cheese with tomato soup, mac and cheese with hot dogs cut up in it, and grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Nothing hard to make, but they all make me smile when I am feeling blah.

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    1. I love grilled cheese and tomato soup. On cold or hot days. ~ Daryl

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  5. I used to always ask for my mother's fried chicken for my birthday meal. It was years before I realized that what I really wanted was biscuits with the gravy she made in the chicken pan with all those wonderful bits of crust!

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    1. Libby, too funny. I remember being "on the road" as an actress, and we were in the south, and I couldn't wait to have breakfast. The biscuits were to die for! That was really all I wanted. ~ Daryl

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  6. My favorite comfort food is tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich (any kind of cheese -- the more exotic, the better). Add a piece of chocolate sheet cake, and I am in comfort food heaven! bobandcelia@sbcglobal.net

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  7. Hear, hear for grilled cheese and soup! It's a gray, wet, chilly day here in NW Montana -- and after our terrible, horrible fire and smoke season, we're grateful for weather that cleans the air and knocks down those fires -- so I'd kinda like to crawl into any of your kitchens and enjoy the comforting warmth, friendship, and food!

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    1. Yes, a great meal on a cold night with a nice glass of wine.

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  8. Ahhh comfort food! Somedays it's grilled cheese and tomato soup, others mac and cheese or what is on my menu this week... Slow cooker chicken and gravy! We usually serve it over mashed potatoes, although you can serve it with rice or noodles. I love my slow cooker! meg85252 at gmail dot com

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    1. I'll have to try the slow cooker chicken and gravy. I love using my slow cooker and having dinner all ready when I get home.

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  9. Nothing makes me feel comforted when I'm down like a bowl of cream of mushroom soup with buttered toast squares in it. As well as creamed peas on toast. Such simple foods, but they speak volumes to me and can change my mood almost immediately. ♥

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  10. Comfort food is definitely homemade chicken soup with knaidlach and challah. When I was little and growing up in a northern clime this was wonderful. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  11. My comfort food is always German noodle soup. Simple, but it means love to me. Then I saw those chive biscuits and that made me happy too. Potato dumplings are also a big comfort food to me, just love them and they make me happy. Candy will also suffice if I need a quick fix of happiness, lol
    kayt18(at) comcast (dot) net

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  12. When I'm sick I want tomato soup and grilled cheese just like my mom used to make. If I'm down in the dumps any kind of cheesecake will do. pgenest57 at aol dot com

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    1. Paula, I never thought of cheesecake as comfort food, but it is -- going on the list!

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  13. Comfort food for me is mac and cheese, tuna melts, grilled cheese and tomato soup on a chilly day, my dad's chili soup recipe, oh and spike cake with caramel icing like my mom always made. barbie17(at)gmail(dot)com

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  14. Something like mom used to make, not a salad or full of vegetables - or healthy! Pot roast (well, there are vegetables there), something with mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese and tomato soup. Or McDonald's. Not sure about that one, must be some carryover from childhood.
    sallycootie(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I see a theme here--mashed potatoes, anything with cheese, gravy...

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  15. When I think of comfort food I immediately pine for a favorite in our family. The long, cold winters made this a popular and healthy meal. Roast Chicken, potatoes, zucchini and then for dessert apple cake. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. I'm on board with roast chicken and potatoes.

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  16. Macaroni and cheese, pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, are all comfort foods that I love.
    cecilialyoung(@)gmail.com

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    1. Mmmmmm, pot roast! I haven't had it in ages.

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  17. My favorite comfort food is my mac and cheese. I became lactose sensitive a few years ago but found that if I use aged cheddar and lactose-free milk then I can enjoy my favorite food again. I use sharp and extra sharp cheddar cheese topped with bread crumbs and it makes me feel like a kid again.
    scarletbegonia5858(at)gmail(dot)com

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  18. I have so many comfort foods that I love, but the one that first comes to mind is mashed potatoes. They just hit the spot when I need to feel warm and cozy inside. :-)
    Nicole
    nicolev.girldetective@gmail.com

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    1. Oh, mashed potatoes! Mr. Right's are just about the best!

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  19. Warm tortillas with butter & salsa, chicken pot pie, Mac & cheese are my favorite comfort foods.

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    1. Chicken pot pies are the very definition of comfort food!

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  20. Oh my, I have so many favorite comfort foods and that probably explain some of my weight problem 😂 but my favorites are a huge roast chicken with stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes, or meatloaf, of roast beef. Homemade bread and pecan rolls just out of the oven is special too. And pies. My mother's homemade cooked fudge was comforting and celebratory so that us also what I think if for comfort foods all if which I make often. What a lovely topic to think about today. We all need comfort after hearing daily news which is so sad. And wishing comfort and saying prayers for all of those people who are affected by all of the tragedies most recently. Hugs everyone.
    Cynthia B

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    1. Hmm. I'm sure there's a physiologic reason why so many comfort foods are high carb, but I don't really want to know it!
      And you know, we planned this topic weeks ago, but it does turn out to be timely, doesn't it? Hugs to you all, with thanks for being part of the MLK community.

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  22. Please excuse all my typos. My eyes are still a problem since my surgeries. Thank you.

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  23. My mouth has been watering from reading all of the previous comments. I am one of the people who find comfort in many foods. Mac and cheese, crispy fried chicken, Jansson's temptation (potato slices layered with onion, anchovies, and a bit of butter, baked in cream) are foods I turn to in tough times. But one of the dishes that most mean comfort to me is garlic fried rice topped with chopped peanuts, green onion and fresh coriander, served with a small bit of chili garlic sauce.
    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

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  24. Here's one more vote for grilled cheese with tomato soup! My second choice would be chicken thighs baked in mushroom soup, with either rice or angel hair pasta. Mmmmmm!
    LizC

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  25. Congee (rice porridge) with beef or chicken.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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  26. Can't wait to try some of these.

    bishopadams01 at Gmail dot com

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  27. I love good meatloaf or a BIG bowl of homemade potato soup

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    1. Comfort food feeds bot just the body, but the soul especially today, on such a sad day. My mom's lasagna, my dad's zucchini blossoms, Uncle Frankie's sauce, and Aunt Lee's orange date cake all spell delicious comfort! sharonrizzo@hotmail.com.

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    2. Oh, Sharon, yes - memory is probably the key ingredient to every comfort food.
      xo

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  29. My favorite comfort food is a hot bowl of chili with a slice of homemade corn bread

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  30. For me comfort food was a BET. My Grandma made the best ever baking powder biscuits and there would be a couple of slices of bacon, an egg, and a slice or two of tomato from her garden. Still my favorite sandwich. But. Rarely with biscuits these days. Just regular bread. Della at deepotter (at) peoplepc (dot) com

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  31. My comfort food is fresh homemade bread with lots of real butter and honey on it.
    ffrupe@yahoo.com

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    1. Oh, hand me a slice, would you please? Mmmm -- thanks!

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  32. My comfort food would be potato soup or hamburger with Ranch Style Beans mixed together! Yummmm

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  33. I love grilled cheese sandwiches with home made chicken noodle soup also love chicken and homemade dumplings, nothing like this on a cold winter day.

    quiltlady110 at gmail dot com

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  34. My comfort food is homemade baked ziti, green salad and fresh garlic bread.
    donnaing1 (at) gmail(dot) com

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  35. My first go to is Cream of Wheat made with milk or at least 1/2 milk. Then it would be grilled cheese with tomato soup. Homemade rice pudding would be in the running too.
    bobntoni@aol.com

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  36. My mama's mac and cheese is the best! Why is it something coomd by your mama tastes so good???

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  37. My Grandma’s taglarina! She lived 7 hours away, so it was a real treat when she made it when we were visiting.

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    1. Sorry, forgot to add email address. Gerimckellar@gmail.com

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  38. Homemade macaroni and cheese like my grandmother used to make. My kids now ask for Great Gram's mac and cheese.

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  39. So many things come to mind when I think of comfort food: grilled cheese and chili, chicken and noodles, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, homemade biscuits with turkey in gravy the day after Thanksgiving, as well as any homemade cookies. And what about popcorn popped on top of the stove with a drizzle of butter and sprinkle of salt? It's a favorite go-to snack of mine and still evokes childhood memories of Friday nights enjoying popcorn and a movie on the Late Show. bskts4unme@hotmail.com

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  40. Growing up, comfort food was pinto beans, fried potatoes and biscuits. Nowadays, comfort food is chocolate :)
    robsnest60@yahoo.com

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  41. Comfort food? Campbells chicken and rice soup. When I was sick, my mother used to heat that up for me. Also Meatloaf is a major comfort food. My brothers never liked it, but my husband does. I make enough so I .I make extra so I can have sandwiches. I don't know if this count s as comfort food. When ever we were having a bad snow storm, my dad would come home with oreo cookies. we didn't usually get them so it was a treat and helped us feel like everything will be ok. May explain why I love them, even today.

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  42. My comfort food is Mac and Cheese with hot dogs cut up in it my kids still ask for it and their 28 and 24 yrs old haha and yes it is homemade mac and cheese baked with garlic breadcrumbs on top. stylingwten@ameritech.net

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  43. My favorite comfort food is macaroni and cheese, chili and mashed potatoes.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  44. My Mom's meatloaf was the best. And another was chicken soup with lots of veggies & dumplings - yum!

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  45. Dumplings and chicken, mac and cheese and so many other foods, a good homemade chicken soup... half of the comfort comes from making and cooking those foods for others!! Thank you so much for this site!

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    1. ECO, you are so right about the comfort that comes from cooking for others!

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  46. I am eating one of my favorite comfort foods this very minute. I just returned from a trip and my daughter brought me a plate of her homemade chicken and dumplings. salanie@aol.com

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  47. Wow! Quickly perusing the responses reminds me of many comforting foods. As a kid, my favorite was Mac and cheese...before boxed mixes. The real deal baked in the oven. Over the years my eating choices have matured. No more carbs and not much cheese these days. However, still high on the comfort food list is chocolate! Maybe in gluten free brownies, or chocolate chip cookies...made with almond meal, of course. There’s always the comforting handful of chocolate chips...when you need the chocolate and no time to bake. LLDAWNJM@gmail.com. Fun topic.

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  48. You've all made me deliciously hungry! Has anyone said chocolate chip cookies? Mr. Right's nomination!

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  49. My comfort food would have to be mushrooms. They were something that my mom always kept in the house and she added them to almost all my food because she knew it was one thing I loved to eat. To this day I almost always have mushrooms on hand at any given moment. utaker555(at)gmail(dot)com

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  50. Curry, I had my first taste of curry in London 15 yrs ago, and fell in love with it. konecny7(at)gmail(dot)com

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  51. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes donamaekutska7@gmail.com

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  52. My comfort food? Vegan mashed potato, cauliflower & kohlrabi with a Portabella mushroom gravy and Rosemary biscuits!!!
    Cheers-
    Kelly Braun
    Gaelicark(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  53. My comfort food can sometimes vary,but mac and cheese, soup, grilled cheese, homemade biscuits or cornbread, and most things sweet.
    Jen Frederick
    jen.frederick@yahoo.com

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  54. Our isa burritos and tacos, mac n cheese, crispy fried chick with homemmade buscuits then add desert! ptclayton2@aol,com

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  55. Fall is filled with comfort food for me! I love making stews and soups, applesauce, baked squash, and anything with pumpkin! Last night for dinner I did pork roast, homemade applesauce, brown sugar bacon cabbage, pinto beans, beer bread, and pumpkin dump cake for dessert! Vonjeffers12@gmail.com

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  56. Comfort food is usually some kind of soup. It warms my innards & makes me feel better about my day. I love my home made cream of potatoe soup. It always hits the spot or my chicken noodle soup from scratch (that's a favorite of my sons).

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  57. I forgot to add my email addy:
    QuetziLibros@aol.com

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  58. As much as I love summer and the many foods that I love. Winter with it's comfort foods such as a good beef or chicken stew with homemade bread. Then settling in with a hot cup of tea or coffee with a warm afghan and a good book. Now that's comfort at its best. jo.ann.y@shaw.ca

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  59. Favorite comfort food? Oh my, so many to choose from! When I want comfort food I go for something rich, creamy or ooey gooey. Meat loaf or fried chicken with mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, chicken n dumplings, sour beef or beef stroganoff to name a few entrees.
    Remember going to my maternal grandmothers on Sundays and having a cup of hot tea with fresh from the oven bread, biscuits, rolls or whatever she just baked. Can’t forget freshly baked desserts such as cookies, cobblers, pies.
    As I said, soo many to choose from! djmeyer44@hotmail.com

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  60. With so much happening in our country lately. I'm thinking were all in NEED of comfort food.

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  61. My ultimate comfort food was mac and cheese mixed with canned tomato soup (now don't judge me! It was an old Girl Scout recipe.). Now I would make a baked mac and cheese with crushed tomatoes and sweet peppers, Yummy! Email: debc625@gmail.com

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  62. Comment food is crisp fall day food like baked macaroni or spaghetti pie! It also soothes the soul when stressed or sad.
    Catherinewinslow81@gmail.com

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  63. Congratulations to Toni Nyman, who won the MLK tote bag and sent us the sweetest thank you note! She and Mr. Kitten, who chooses the winners when Leslie has the blog, apparently share a taste in comfort food -- roasted mouse! No, not really -- just a little joke. Thanks to all of you for joining in the conversation, and sharing your good taste.

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