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Friday, October 08, 2010

Three cheers for comfort food - Kandy Shepherd


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What’s your favorite comfort food? I’m writing a story where comfort food plays an important role in the plot.
In talking with friends, I’m finding one person’s comfort food can be another person’s gross out—peanuts smothered in mayonnaise, anyone?
To me, there’s a distinction between “binge food” (did anyone say CHOCOLATE?) and nostalgic “comfort food”. My notion of comfort food is one where the taste evokes memories of happy times past and the special person who made it for you.
It’s not just any old comfort food we crave—it’s mom’s cookies, grandma’s soup, dad’s mac ’n’ cheese, pop’s spaghetti sauce. It’s all about nostalgia—the serving and the sharing.
As I child I seemed to spend quite a lot of time sick in bed. To cheer me up, my mother used to twine my hair with flowers from the garden and tell me endless happy-ever-after stories. To tempt my appetite she cut triangles of fresh white bread spread with butter and honey. Is it any wonder that the smell of honey conjures up a world of love and comfort for me? (Or that I became a romance writer!)
Have I created special memories for my daughter? She’s studying for her final high school exams and I asked was there anything I could cook to help ease the stress.
“Those little cupcakes you always made for my birthday parties,” she replied, “and please let me lick the bowl.” Cupcakes coming up…
My English husband loves it when I bake him his own little jam “roly-poly” from scraps of pastry—just like his mother used to make. The best thing? His initial on the top.
I’d love to hear about the foods that are special to you. Leave a comment for a
chance to win a signed copy of my latest book from Berkley Sensation HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. (It features a particularly delicious lasagna that stirs up all sorts of sensations in the hero…)

Please include your email in your comment if you would like to win the
book.

http://www.kandyshepherd.com

53 comments:

Cathleen Ross said...

My favorite comfort food is still chocolate, but I will substitute if desperate with nuts or fruit. My mum's jam rolly polly is always a favorite in my family.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Cathleen, chocolate is definitely my weakness. I love nuts and fruit but have never thought of them as comfort food. Comfort food seems to be a carbohydrate thing in our family.
I wonder if that has something to do with serotonin?

Sabrina Shields said...

Love your book cover!

I had to think on what one food I always associate happy, comforting feelings with. It turns out it's biscuits. My mother always made me homemade biscuits and gravy growing up and something about the smell and taste of biscuits always makes me happy.

sabrina.shields @live.com

runner10 said...

I love homemade chocolate chip cookies hot out of the oven!! They are fun to make with my family.
csdsksds[at]gmail[dot]com

chey said...

My favourite comfort food is homemade pizza. It brings back great childhood memories for me.

chey127 at hotmail.com

traveler said...

When I was home sick I would love to have grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

My favorite comfort food is French Toast made with Challah Bread. rojosho(st)hotmail(dot)com

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, what a lovely post, Kandy. I thought back to my mother's wonderful cooking and came up with a stack of stuff I just loved - her roasts in particular were a delight beyond rival. But then I thought a bit more and came up with something extremely unglamorous. I have a bit of a dodgy stomach (most people who know me already know this!). When I'd been sick but I was starting to come back to the land of the living, my mother always made me wonderful creamy scrambled eggs that sat like heaven on top of an upset tum!

Estella said...

My comfort food is applesauce cake made from my Mom's recipe It was called a dump cake, because all of the ingredients were put in the bowl at the same time.
Delicious!

Estella said...

Forgoy my email.

kissinoak at frontier dot com

Sharon Archer said...

I love your post and your definition of comfort food, Kandy! I guess "chocolate" goes on the comfort food list without saying - though I confess that my childhood memories of chocolate aren't all good because it used to give me migraines! Thank goodness I grew out of that!

I'd add fried rice as one of my comfort foods. When I was very, very young, we lived in Fiji on the Air Force base. We used to go to the Chinese restaurant. They did "take away" before it was the huge business it is today. We had to take our own container and the cook would dish the food directly into it for us to "take away" to eat.

Oh, and prawns would be on my list too. Dad used to go prawning while we lived in Fiji and I can still conjure up the taste of those fresh prawns. Mmmm, and then there's New Zealand whitebait fritters... YUM!

Oh, lovely tasty memories! Thanks, Kandy!

:)
Sharon

Annie West said...

Kandy,

What a terrific post!

So many choices for me - my mum's vegetable soup, or one of her fantastic roast meals (I do roasts but they never taste quite the same). Then there are home made Christmas cakes and hot puddings served with warm custard and vanilla ice cream... Sigh. Guaranteed to make me feel better.

Like you, my son is going through those final exam stresses. I've pampered him with raspberry muffins and we're planning some yummo breakfasts this week while I've got time at home. Food really can be such a comfort.

Can't wait to read your next book. I'm already imagining the wonderful things you'll do with comfort food.

Annie

Leni said...

My favorite comfort foods are all of the ones that I shouldn't be indulging in too much. Chocolate chip cookies,chocolate cake, carrot cake, coconut cake, candy, and I'm going to stop right there because I'll have a really long list if I don't.

lenikaye@yahoo.com

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Ew, peanuts and mayonnaise? Quite a combo!

I'm in the throes of a cold or flu right now and I'd really, really love a hearty chicken soup right now. When I feel a tad better, a nice cup of Lindt hot chocolate will go down well too. Not quite food but it is comforting.

Great post, Kandy!

Fiona Lowe said...

Kandy,, you've made me hungry:). I seem to associate comfort food with cold, winter days...hot soup, roast dinners and self saucing pudding.

lmmartin said...

I'd have to say home baked bread with butter, peanut butter and honey. Yum. Lynda Martin http://www.LyndaMMartin.com

mariska said...

My comfort food, My home made double chocolate brownies.

even my DH and 4 yos son love it :)

uniquas at ymail dot com

Christina Hollis said...

Great post - leek & potato soup with home made, cheese crusted rolls and/or blackberry and apple crumble with custard.
Or chocolate cake...
Or pancakes and maple syrup...
Or....sorry, too hungry to go on!

Mary said...

My favorite comfort food is something my grandma made for me a few times when I was home sick. Her philosophy was feed a fever starve a cold. *shrugs shoulders* Whatever works. lol

She would make me fried potatoes and then scramble an egg right in the same pan with the potatoes so that the eggs were mixed all in through the potatoes.


It's really good and I still like it when I get sick, makes me feel comforted.

miztik_rose@yahoo.com

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Sabrina, I'm glad you like my HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS cover. I was thrilled when I saw not one but two of my doggy characters there.
Biscuits and gravy, now that really fits the definition of comfort food!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey runner 10, did you note the first picture I put in the blog entry? Chocolate chip cookies--YES! Hot out of the oven, still a bit squishy, the choc chips a bit runny--bliss!
And the sharing with the family in both the baking and the eating all steps up the comfort food level...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Homemade pizza, Chey, I could eat a slice (or four!) right now...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Traveler, grilled cheese sandwiches is one of my favorites, too.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Petite, French toast is such a treat!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Anna, aah the family roast--my mother cooked a good one too. I love scrambled eggs too, my hens are laying lots of beautiful eggs at the moment I must make scrambled eggs for breakfast. I wish you could join me!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Estella, I love the idea of your mom's applesauce dump cake--it sounds easy to make as well as delicious.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Sharon, your favorite comfort foods certainly come with a fascinating story. What marvelous memories to have linked with those foods.
Rice is a real comfort food for me. My father grew up in China where his family were expats. As a result, growing up we had rice with nearly every meal, even Western style meals, and I still love it--rice in soup, rice with gravy, brown rice, white rice, fried rice, risotto... That's comfort food!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Annie, thank you for introducing an entire new category of comfort food--Christmas! Of all our celebrations that must rank high for nostalgia food.
Why else would people living in Australia eat the hearty, winter-based food of the traditional celebration in the middle of the sweltering summer?!
Mmm, I bet your son is loving those raspberry muffins. I hope all goes well for his exams.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Coconut cake! Leni, I absolutely love it. In fact I could happily eat my way through everything on your list.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Vanessa, I'm sorry to hear that you are not feeling well at the moment. I believe chicken soup has proven medicinal qualities as well a delivering a dose of comfort so hope it does the trick.
And of course chocolate is medicinal too!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Good point Fiona, so many comfort foods do seem to cheer us up in chilly weather. With the honorable exception of ice cream, of course!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Lynda, I think even just the aroma of home-baked bread counts as comfort food!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Mariska, the thought of your home-made double chocolate brownies is making my mouth water! Your family is lucky indeed...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Christina, your list of comfort food is making me hungry too. Potato and leek soup is a favorite of mine, (hot, not cold as in vichyssoise) and as for blackberry and apple crumble and custard...
Is there such a thing as cyber drooling?

Kandy Shepherd said...

Mary, your mother's fried potatoes with scrambled egg sounds so good I'm going to try it myself!

Laurie said...

My comfort food is ice cream usually Mint Chocolate Chip or Heath Bar. It's yummy, creamy, sweet, delicious! It always makes me feel better!

Laurie said...

OOPS!

I forgot to say I'm from the DAIRY state WISCONSIN!!

johnslake at usa dot com

gigi said...

My favorite comfort meal is a grilled cheese sandwich and either tomato or chicken noodle soup to go with it. It is always good for what ails you.

Pat Cochran said...

My comfort foods usually are soups,
as close as I can get to what my
Mother used to make. Mother was a great cook, friends used to make
their visits coincide with meal
times so as to partake of all the goodness! Mother's potato salad was tops on everyone's list, but for me it was her baked Chicken Cacciatore. Sadly,we will never taste that particular dish again. One, because Mother is gone now,
and two, because she never shared
her recipes! I have often tried to
re-create her recipe but have had no luck as yet.

Pat Cochran

Michelle Douglas said...

Oh, Kandy, what a divine blog. My mouth is watering :-)

I do find homemade pea and ham soup hard to go past as a comfort food, but I have wonderful childhood memories of my great grandmother's pikelets eaten hot and smothered in golden syrup. Mmm...

Alison said...

Chocolate, of course!- but I'll eat pretty much anything...alas!

Alisonjlindsay att Gmail dot com

SiNn said...

tehres alot of differnet ones for me for different reasons


I like chicken noodle soup when im not feeling well make sme feel like im a lil kid with my gran taken care of me again

chocolate when im angry and need a peptalk i like to call it

tacos for those dull days when i felel like the world is caven in


I have weird cravings for thingas tahtnrmally shouldntgo together but in my world they do

mortalsinn@yahoo.com

SiNn said...

i remember osmethingiahvent in well almost 20 yrs when i was akid my granma made aweosme yummy cakes homemade and was aorund mybrithday well she got kinda sick so couldnt make me a cake that year so my mom thought shed improvise and orderone and let me tell you i was soo soo sad i felt like my birthdya was rined the cake wanstveyr yummy like grammas so i was sad well gramma made itup to me when she was feeling better she made me one of her special cakes to this day i still have home made cake and cookies becauseits like coming home after ahard day thinking of her she was an aweosem special lady

Kandy Shepherd said...

Mmm, ice cream! I'm with you Laurie!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Gigi, I love a grilled cheese sandwich too. That one goes right back to childhood for me...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Pat, it's sad when a favorite recipe doesn't get passed on isn't it? I always love it when someone shares a cherished recipe to me. My recipe scrapbook is full of items like "Sue's Cheesecake" and "Christine's Peanut Cookies".

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Michelle, soup really is a Category A comfort food, isn't it? Pikelets and golden syrup? That's nostalgia gold!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Alison, I know exactly what you mean! Chocolate is my Number One. But I could happily indulge in nearly every food people have written about here!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi SiHn-I so agree with you that we have different foods for different moods! I love your story about your grandma--homemade treats baked with love just can't be beaten.

Kandy Shepherd said...

I love hearing about Tote Bags 'n' Blogs readers special comfort foods. It's been a cool, damp weekend and your posts have inspired a rush of comfort food cooking!
All the talk of soup lead me to making a rather complicated but utterly delicious and comforting Lamb Soup with Barley. "This is just like my Grandma's Scotch Broth" marveled my writer friend who shared it with me.
Then I made Bread and Butter Pudding, baked with fruit bread, cream and wonderful fresh eggs laid that day by my hens. A favorite dessert I rarely get to indulge in.
For breakfast, inspired by Anna Campell and Mary's comments, I made a plate of creamy, wonderful scrambled eggs.
Talk about a comfort food blow out!
(And loving it...)

Elizabeth Lhuede said...

Kandy, what a lovely story about your mum twining your hair with flowers and giving you bread and honey.

It made me think back to when I cut my foot when I was six. We were wading barefoot on the mudflats in shallow water, looking for yabbies, when suddenly I felt a sharp pain and saw blood in the water. I had walked straight into the jagged edge of a broken beer bottle, probably tossed overboard by a passing motorist. My brother piggy-backed me up to a neighbour's who cleaned and dressed the wound. Then she gave us a huge stack of potato and parsley pancakes to take my mind off the injury. I still have the scar, but I've long forgotten the pain. My neighbour's kindness and those luscious, buttery pancakes are what I remember. Definitely comfort food!

Can't wait to read your next book. I loved the first two.

Elizabeth

Kandy Shepherd said...

Potato and parsley pancakes Elizabeth--they sound delicious and the best kind of comfort food.

So glad you loved my first two books!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments about comfort food--I loved reading every one and boy did they make me hungry!
The winner of a signed copy of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS is siNn--please send me your snail mail address so I can mail out your book to you.
Kandy
kandy@kandyshepherd.com