Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Hug from the Kitchen: Comfort Food Confessions

No worries. I'm not going to ask you to raise your hand and confess--not right now. I'm going first:

Peanut Butter. In almost any form. 

 Though this brand is organic (which takes away half the calories, right?), in desperate moment I'd take of hit of Skippy, Jif . . . or Walmart generic.

My name is Candace and I like peanut butter.

There are signs that I'm not alone in this comfort food crutch. Evidence this cocktail napkin that made me laugh out loud at a World Market store:

 In case you can't read it in the photo, here is what it says:

 "The pairing of wine and food is not complicated . . . I find chardonnay compliments leftover peanut butter and jelly triangles just as well as it does macaroni and cheese." 

 Don't get me started on the subject of mac & cheese. I like the way it hugs,too.

Yes, comfort food. For whatever reason, we all have our favorites. And, as an author, I firmly believe that a well-written, believable character  should have a few comfort quirks, too.  Like our very determined ER Director Kate Callison from my upcoming release, RESCUE TEAM.  In this short scene snippet, we see Kate grabbing comfort food in the midst of a terrible-awful day at Austin Grace ER:

Lauren sat down opposite Kate at a table outside the ER. She eyed Kate’s paper plate. “What on earth is that?”

“Muff—mmph, excuse me.” Kate swallowed a couple of times, dabbed at her lips. “Sorry. Whole wheat English muffin. Peanut butter, cream cheese, and orange marmalade—as much as I could scrape out of the last little foil package in the staff refrigerator.  I needed . . .” Peanut butter . . . and peace. She smiled sheepishly. “Comfort food. Don’t judge.” 

“Cross my heart. I’ve seen the bottom of a few Blue Bell ice cream cartons myself.” Lauren tipped her head. “I figured things were bad when you asked the ICU if they could spare me for a few hours.”

“You can’t know how much I appreciate you helping out. And being the one friendly face in my hostile world.” Kate frowned. “Legal came to see me.”

“Can I assume that means Barrett Lyon?” 

“He had the nerve to ask me to lunch minutes after describing his plan to defend the hospital from any possible litigation that might happen as a result of Baby Doe. Which could include pointing the finger at individual staff. Throwing any or all of us to—” 

“The Lyons,”  Lauren finished. “Pun intended. That man sure does seem intent on proving my mom’s advice that good-lookin’ isn’t nearly good enough.”
Of course, I had to research it: 

Mmm. Yes, heroine-worthy.

But then, sometimes it's possible to combine your favorite comfort food into a wholesome recipe, which of course absolves your from all guilt. Like this recipe that I've teased folks with on Facebook a few times : Creamy Peanut Squash Soup. Lovely color, and a rich delicious taste--peanut butter, hint of curry, a bit of fresh basil, too! 

Doesn't that look tasty simmering on the stove?  Here's the recipe, right off of my (peanut butter daubed) card: 

1 large butternut squash--pierce skin, bake 45 minutes @ 350, peel, seed, cut into chunks
2 cans of chicken broth
1 cup milk 
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 tsp. ground curry
1/4 tsp tobasco sauce (or less/more to taste)
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup roasted, salted peanuts
seasoned salt

Process baked squash cubes with 1 can of broth til smooth
In 5 qt. pan mix squash, remaining broth, milk, peanut butter, spices. Heat slowly until soup boils (approx 20 min.).
Thin, if necessary, with some extra broth
Season with salt, tobasco as desired.
slice basil, chop peanuts (and I like a dash of freshly grated nutmeg as well)

Top soup and serve
Serves about 6 people

Note: I have used skim milk and Almond Milk in this recipe--turned out fine.  I often use the already peeled, cubed squash available in grocery stores now. And I skip another step by using an immersion blender right in pan, instead of using the food processor.

Here's a pic of the finished soup, a favorite in the Calvert kitchen:

Now, your turn:  Who wants to share a bit about your own comfort food? C'mon now, gotta love a food that offers a hug . . . 


Anonymous said...

There are so many comfort foods. Right now I'm partial to chicken noodle soup. Loved your post. Blessings, Susan Fryman

Ann Street said...

When I was in the hospital having a hip replacement, I ordered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and grapes for every meal. :)

Hutt-Write Voice said...

I'd go with chicken noodle soup too, but I think cereal works for me too - cheerieos, granola...

Lorin said...

soup looks nummy! I'm not a foodie but that looks like something I'd make, drink, and enjoy! Gonna try it and let you know.

CandaceCalvert said...

Susan--I'm a soup person too, obviously. So many kinds, so little time!
Ann: Ouch on the hip replacement, but I'm betting your mobility is so much better now. You made me remember that when I was in the hospital after a C-section, I was always sneaking down to the little kitchen for extra graham crackers and cranberry juice--total comfort food binge.

CandaceCalvert said...

Linda, LOL: cereal (dry from the box) is a fave here too. My hubby's been muching Grape Nuts. I can tell this by the trail . . .

CandaceCalvert said...

Lorin! thanks for stopping by. I think you'd love this soup--hope you give it a go.

Anne Payne said...

I love soup. My favorite is chicken noodle with rosemary.