It’s been comfort food week at our house. Not that I set out for that to happen, but sometime mid-week when I was buying the couple of things I needed to put together a Turkey Bolognese sauce for dinner, I knew my inner culinary draft horse was nosing me home to the stable o’ favorites. And after the string of no-veggies-in-sight junky meals that had gone with our late stage packing and moving, followed immediately by last week’s special Passover diet with no bread or pasta, pork or shellfish, it seemed like ages since we’d sat down to dine on these blue plate specials of ours:
Sunday Beef Fajita Burritos and Spanish Rice. My young lady, who does not eat beef, was served a cheese quesadilla. The beef was 100% grass fed and pasture raised from Marin Sun Farms. Fortunately, a butcher on my new side of town carries MSF’s product line, as do most of the butchers and high end grocers in SF. The cubed stew meat is about $6.00 a pound, and I don’t need quite a pound. My Spanish rice is still not perfect but it’s getting there. 1 cup rice, ½ cup tomato sauce, some diced onion and 1 can lower-sodium chicken stock.
Monday Cheddar and Potato filled pierogies sautéed in onions (Grandma’s Brand out of Toronto is my favorite) with mixed roasted vegetables. The leftover burrito meat and orange peppers also made an appearance. Boy, I love pierogies! Trader Joe’s stopped selling their box of frozen ones because of low sales, but I swear we held up our end to keep them in business. You boil them first then move them with a slotted spoon into a fry pan to brown them in butter or olive oil.
Tuesday Turkey Bolognese over penne pasta, a small take-and-bake baguette, and a green salad. Ground turkey is the only meat I’ll buy in a grocery store, usually Jenni-O. I got Trader Joe’s this time, and I thought it was great. I was out of carrots and substituted orange pepper. Adding oregano and paprika to balance the different veggie presence, it turned out just fine. I froze half of the sauce – which is part of the whole comfort food deal. Dinner is pre-made to help me out down the line.
Wednesday Snake River Farms Kurobuta smoked ham with boiled potatoes. Pea pods sautéed in butter and soy sauch with mushrooms and Spanish onion. This was the simplest meal of the bunch. These divine pre-cooked hams (humanely and safely raised) take a while to heat up – the SRF website recommends heating at 325 degrees F, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours – but there is no work on my part other than getting home in time to get it in the oven, letting the ham rest and then carving and serving to widespread approval. We felt a little decadent having this as a mid-week meal, but we – an interfaith household – couldn’t do a ham Easter dinner in the middle of Passover so it seemed like a good catch up to me. My daughter started out the meal with an unprompted “Thank you, pig” and we echoed her sentiment.
Thursday Ham Sandwiches, what else? with broccoli slaw. Potato chips. Easy and comforting, I felt like the meal at our kitchen table with the sun streaming in was a preview of summer attractions. (Smart and Final, Safeway and Trader Joe’s all carry versions of broccoli slaw, which I love. I never did care for cole slaw. Add craisins and slivered almonds to the broccoli slaw bag mixes and you’ve really got something.)
As we sat down to dinner tonight, my daughter asked, “What’s for dinner tomorrow, mommy?” I was pleased by her uncharacteristic interest and enthusiasm in what we were eating together, not to mention an improved scorecard of all of us eating basically the same meals all week.
As to what’s on deck for dinner tomorrow, I have a few ideas. It might be another comfort food classic: breakfast for dinner. It’s hard to go wrong with diced ham and scrambled eggs. There are some boiled potatoes to make into hash browns sitting in the fridge as it happens. I’d love to tell you that I planned that all out, as part of a brilliant sustainability manifesto. But no, I’m just doing what my husband’s mother and other home cooks traditionally do with leftover ham and potatoes. With roasted turkeys there’s a similar flow chart of meals to make on successive nights and I love them all.
So what’s comfort food in your repertoire? Comforting because it tastes great, but also has the comfort components for the cook too – of falling together easily and leaves you great stuff in the fridge to build on for another night? Please share…