Comfort Food

When I hear the term “Comfort Food,” I’ve always thought of a hot bowl of chili on a cold winter day… or grits, eggs, and biscuits for breakfast when you have to get up extra-early… or a piece of my Mom’s chocolate pie made special when I come to visit.

This past weekend, changed my perspective of “comfort food.” My sister-in-law suffered a great tragedy when her husband was killed in his place of business during a robbery. He also left behind a daughter in her late teens and a son in his early twenties. Danny’s death was so sudden, that it left us all in shock. But, not surprisingly, the family quickly rallied behind Cindy, Jenny, and Jeremy to do everything we could to help.

It was the two days Roger and I spent at Cindy’s house (she lives about 100 miles away from us), that I learned what a comfort food can actually be to a family grieving. Early Saturday morning, the phone started ringing with friends and family offering their condolences and thoughts and prayers… and to say they were bringing food. Around noon, the food started coming in carried by friends and business acquaintances and even friends of friends that Cindy and her family had never met. There was roast and vegetables, butter beans from someone’s garden, a meat tray with bread for making sandwiches, sodas in a cooler on ice, a chocolate pie, sweet potato casserole, hamburgers hot off the grill, corn, coconut cake, the list goes on and on and on.

With each delivery, there would be hugs and words of comfort and the same information related again and again. What should have been monotonous and more than a little irritating eventually became comforting. At one point in the day, someone said, “What in the world will we do with all this food?!?” The idea of turning some of it away was even passed around. It was then that my wonderful Mother-in-law made me realize that the food not only brought comfort to people who were on the receiving end. She quietly said to us all, “Please don’t ask people not to bring the food. It makes them feel better to do something for you.” And she was right.

I got some great recipes from these caring men and women, but also some good hints for the next time I’m on the giving end: 1) bring the food in disposable dishes so there is no worry about returning dishes 2) several people brought sodas and tea which was great to go with the food 3) one person brought paper towels and even toilet paper 4) several people put a return address label on their food which was great because we were making an effort to capture that information each time for thank you notes.

Here are some recipes terrific for taking to a family in their time of need. Start the roast before you go to bed and let it cook all night then add the vegetables first thing in the morning; it will be ready to delivery just before lunch. The 4 Ingredient Butterscotch Cake is super easy. I keep the ingredients on hand for anytime I need a last-minute dessert. Cook it in one of those disposable aluminum pans so there will be no dishes to return.

Onion Soup Pot Roast and Vegetables

1 beef roast
1 tablespoon seasoning salt
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 envelope onion soup mix
2 tablespoons browning sauce or Worcestershire sauce
5 red potatoes, sliced
1 pound cleaned baby carrots

In a crockpot on high (or in oven-safe pan on top of stove) brown top side of roast. Turn to brown bottom and sprinkle top with seasoning salt, garlic salt, and black pepper. While roast is browning, combine cream of chicken soup, onion soup mix, and browning sauce. Set crockpot to low and spread soup mixture over top of roast; cover and cook 2 to 3 hours (or longer). If not using crockpot, place roast in an oven-safe pan with a lid and cook 2 to 3 hours in a preheated 300° oven. Add potatoes and carrots and just enough water to barely cover; continue to cook until vegetables are tender. Thicken juice with cornstarch to make a gravy, if desired.

4 Ingredient Butterscotch Cake

Quite possibly the easiest cake ever… and it tastes GREAT!

1 (3-ounce) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
1 yellow cake mix
1 (12-ounce) package butterscotch morsels

In a small boiler over medium-high heat, combine milk and pudding; bring to boil. Remove from heat. Add cake mix; mix well. Pour into a prepared 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle butterscotch morsels over cake. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until done. Cool before serving.