This is my entry into this month’s PHC Top 3 contest.
This months topic is "Top 3 Comfort Foods"
My Nominations - Drumroll please!
Nomination Number One: Chicken Pot Pie
My Reasons for the Nomination
When I was a child, back in the 1960s, "TV dinners" were just coming out. My mother was a fabulous cook, and we ate every meal together, all 7 of us, sitting around the dining room table. As a side note, that very table is in my dining room now, and I'm sitting in the chair where my father used to sit, presiding over the family meals, making sure we started with our nightly dinner prayer, and that we expressed thanks to our mom for cooking up the meal.
She never made chicken pot pie. I'm not sure why. She was a genius as a cook, and could throw together a dinner that would feed a hungry family of 7 from almost nothing. We lived on my father's professor salary, food we grew in the garden, and the produce from our fruit trees which we picked and processed into everything from canned peaches and cherries to applesauce and jam. We also went to U-pick farms, berry patches, and a discount bread store where we stocked up on bread which we filled a freezer with in our basement. But I digress.
A chicken pot pie, which in those days cost 25 cents, was pure luxury. We never bought prepared food. It was just not done. Not only did we not have the money, but we were simply philosophically opposed. Why would you buy a prepared item that was made in a factory instead of in a family kitchen where one of the ingredients was love?
That said, there were those times. Now and again we took a fork in the road (pardon the pun). I think we got McDonald's about three times when I was a child. We also bought TV dinners on occasion (which were terrible - leathery Salisbury steak, anyone?), and ate them on TV trays in the living room on Sunday nights while watching the Walt Disney show.
A chicken pot pie was something I occasionally got to have on one of those occasions. While I loved my mother's cooking and in fact chicken pot pies reminded me of something she might make, they were a very special treat because they were not made in our kitchen. Perhaps we saved up our small change to buy one. I seem to remember my younger sister, @ducksaplenty, convincing me that we should raid our piggy banks and go get some to make them for lunch on a Saturday.
And then... and then! The crunch of that crust as you pierce it with a fork! The rise of steam and the heavenly aroma! The first bite of chicken and peas, ensconced in a white molten lava sauce! Hot hot hot! You knew you had to wait if you didn't want to burn your tongue, but as we all know, waiting is hard for a child. Inevitably, we'd have to spit out that first bite and wait a bit longer.
Perhaps my taste buds were just really in tune with the flavor nuances, or maybe chicken pot pies were really that good in those days. I can imagine that there was a grandma working in the factory who knew how to infuse them with love which is a special flavor that is hard to find. I will never know. But I just remember practically swooning from the amazing combination of flavors and textures.
You can make it yourself. Here's the chicken pot pie recipe associated with the image above.
Nomination Number Two: Pigs in a Blanket
My Reasons for the Nomination
In my heart of hearts, I am a vegetarian and a health fanatic. In reality, I am anything but those things. I can't explain it. I honestly crave vegetables and health foods, but you put a steak, a hot dog, or some garlic chicken in front of me, and I am essentially rendered helpless.
Pigs in a blanket were something of a staple in my house growing up, and one of the reasons I love them so much is because they remind me of my mom. We didn't use packaged dough, as far as I remember. We made everything from scratch. The very idea of buying dough in a tube was somewhat offensive to our clan, and we looked with pity upon those who had to resort to it. In fact, I remember a little neighbor girl named Colleen whose mother always just seemed to be barely holding it together and whose pantry was stocked with Kraft Mac and Cheese and Bisquick, and her life seemed so sad. We lived off the bounty of the earth and had a big home cooked meal each night. Colleen, wherever you are, I hope you are having a good life and that you eat a healthier diet now! Once again, I digress.
As a comfort food, pigs in a blanket have got my number. I want to eat them weekly, if not daily, and perhaps have their love child. There is something so flavor packed and texture seductive about the combination of that browned bready exterior giving way to the salty chewy hot dog within that is just incredibly palate pleasing. Do I really eat them very often? No, not at all. I just dream of them.
I occasionally made them for my kids when they were little (with nitrite free hot dogs), especially if they had a big group of friends over. It's really easy to make a lot of them really fast, and in fact they make an excellent party food. I typically make my own dough, which is super easy to do if you have a bread maker. You just make a yeast dough and put it on the dough setting. Then it's ready to roll out at the end of the dough cycle. But they also turn out great with Pillsbury canned dough!
See the pigs in a blanket recipe that goes with the picture above if you would like to try making them yourself.
Nomination Number Three: Fried Chicken
My Reasons for the Nomination
The best thing my mother made was fried chicken. As I've shared, her food was made with love, and I have no other real explanation as to why it is nearly impossible to find food that was as good as hers. Her specialties included the most delectable fried chicken, the best potato salad on the planet, and a mean creamed eggs on toast (which we kids much later realized meant that she was down to just a few items in the cupboard until payday).
Fried chicken was my favorite. You get it spiced just right, the exterior crunchy and salty, and the chicken cooked to perfection, and nothing can beat it. My mother would cook up at least two chickens on the nights we had fried chicken for dinner. Or maybe it was three. At any rate, it was set on the table with fanfare - an enormous platter absolutely towering with fried chicken. All of us liked drumsticks except my dad, who favored the wings. And with 7 hungry people and a popular item like that, you just have to go the extra mile or there will be fighting and bloodshed over the best pieces.
I do not make fried chicken, myself. It's a great treat and I will occasionally order it when I'm out. Mostly I just enjoy remembering the wonder and deliciousness of that home fried chicken, and all of us gathered around the table trying not to reach for that first juicy piece of chicken until the prayer was done, then munching and talking about our day, all cozy as a family and not a care in the world.
If you would like to make it yourself, check out the fried chicken recipe that goes with the picture. Just don't forget to add the ingredient of love.
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