02 March, 2009

Comfort Food

It has been an emotional couple of weeks with hospital visits, loneliness, stress, sad anniversaries, and new babies.  Time to step back for reassessment, loads of snuggles, and some comfort food.  Food is more than sustenance and I want it to make me feel better in a trying time.  Truth be told I would be happy with a dinner of nachos and guacamole, a beer, and loads of chocolate for dessert.  But even I know that is bad for my ass.

Recently, I read something about emotional eating that completely changed my viewpoint on brownies, pierogies, and juicy burgers.  Sadly, I can't exactly remember where I read it, so you will have to make do with my own paraphrasing: sure, I eat emotionally, but what fun would life be if I didn't?  It isn't about turning to food to make us feel better, it is about food contributing to the emotional health of our souls.  It is about friends sharing cake and wine, cooking with your kids, feeding your tired and hungry husband at the end of a long week, or letting a piece of dark chocolate melt on your tongue while you watch some bad reality TV. Does the food make you feel better?  The Oprah moment for me was realizing that it isn't the food that makes you feel better, it is the experience that makes you feel better.  Food is integral to the overall experience.

We all have different foods we turn to when needing that hug; the same dishes we serve when friends come over or the old recipe that we know will put a smile on our face at Sunday dinner.  Typically these foods are gooey, warm, sweet or salty, and generally fill our tummy with the equivalent of a bear hug from your favourite uncle.  They might also be the foods that bring back memories of your mom treating you when you were sick or your grandmother's expression of love.  Think Mac and Cheese, brownies, and the aforementioned nachos and guacamole.

This week I am going to go through some of my favourite comfort foods.  Some are just the right thing for lingering winter days.  Some are the right thing for indulgence and midnight snacks when no one is sleeping in the house.  Some are just right for passing on traditions.

Today I must write about chili.  Meaty, spicy, slightly sweet, and filled with beans, corns, and just a touch of chocolate.  Well, that was what it turned out like this week.  I swear I've never made two batches of chili the same.  I must admit, other than cooking the beans from dried I was supremely lazy this time around.  I grabbed some moose or elk (it wasn't labelled) that my brother-in-law gave us.  I also grabbed the chili sauce my dad makes a few times a year. Essentially it lands somewhere between a salsa and a tomato sauce.  Brown the meat, toss it with the chili sauce, cooked or canned beans, and some frozen corn kernels.  I also usually throw in some extra chili powder and an ounce or two of bittersweet chocolate.  Bake it for an hour or so on low heat.

The way to properly serve chili is another point of debate in our house.  Hubby likes it over rice.  Personally, I would rather have cornbread or a cheesy bread.  But we both agree on shredded cheese on top.  We actually also both agree on avocado too, but sadly Hubby can't eat it.  Both the girls enjoyed it too.  Well, Smilosaurus only had the beans, avocado, and cheese, but she was in heaven!

What about you?  What do you turn to at the end of a rough week - aside from a case of Traditional Ale or a stiff scotch?

Here are some more favourite chili recipes:


Aimée said...

Hey, everything OK? Sounds like a tough time.
Beautiful post, though. I made chili this weekend and it rocked!

Anonymous said...

What a great idea as a way to get that mole taste, chocolate in chili! love it. I'm going to have to try a veggie version.

H.Peter said...

Well written, well said.

Isabelle said...

I love chili but I hardly ever make it. That should change. I would agree with you on the cornbread.

It's funny - when I saw the picture, I could have sworn in was breakfast. Granola, maybe, with a chopped green apple on top. I had to scroll back up to make sure it was chili and avocado!