Monday, March 28, 2011

Comfort Food

What do we call comfort food and why? What do we call comfort food. For each person, comfort food is based on a few things.

1. Family
what did your family make while you were growing up?
what did they pass down over the generations?

2. Where you live
What foods are native to the area you grew up in?
What foods were cooked by your friends mothers and grandmothers?

3. Personal Likes
What foods do you personally like to eat and/or fix?
How did you come by that personal favorite?

Lets take Family first. Each of us grew up in a very different kind of household from anyone else, other than our own siblings, if we have any. What mom makes is almost always best. We always judge our own version of those family favorites against what we remember from growing up. We also judge it against what our grandmother made for us as well.

For me personally, I grew up in an Italian household, for the most part. We had good old fashioned Italian food when we got together as a family, or the cousins came over. It was always a feast and fun.

My memories of my birthday every year was having my mother make Lasagna for me, since it is still my favorite of all pasta dishes. Ravioli's a close second. Both of which I now make from scratch. That means I make my own pasta for them as well. Something my grandfather taught me how to make when my son was only 4. That was an awesome thing that we shared and my son helped me make them too. It was fun.

I've taken my knowledge of making pasta and increased it by experimenting with adding things to the pasta as well as making new and different fillings for the ravioli's and lasagna. Always a new adventure when I make pasta from scratch.

I make all my own sauces as well, from scratch. I prefer home grown tomatoes over store bought fresh. They taste much better in the sauces. I once had a great olive sauce and then I made a version of my own. That is the BEST sauce ever. Personally, that one is something I add to my spaghetti instead of a maranara, and I never add a meat sauce to my pasta dishes. Instead I will make meatballs and sausgaes on the side and then add them to some sauce in a different pot and place them on the table as a dish to go with the pasta. Basically a side dish.

Next, where you live is very important to this subject. If you live in the south or midwest, your going to be eating alot of fried food, potatoes, mac and cheese, biscuits and gravey. That would be concidered comfort food and traditional to several regions of the country here in the USA. However, if your in Great Britain your idea of comfort food will be very different.

Our friends mothers and grandmothers, whom we got to know when we were growing up, also cooked for us. Traditionally, they would make food that was varied and different from our own family members. I remember being a little girl and going to my mothers best friends parents house. They made the best mexican food. Hence they were mexican, and my mother can cook it like no tomorrow. When I was older, another of my mothers friends was Japanese, she made tempura, something that I thought was the bomb.

Next is Personal. This is what comes from all of our experiences and travels or just a journey to a new restuarant and trying something else. These come from being adventurous. I had one of my sisters turn me onto Indian food. Oh wow, that was so wonderful. Being able to find what you like is a wonderful thing.

I recommend to everyone to explore the food around you. There are some awesome cuisines available to you that would not have been around 100 years ago. Unless you knew someone who was from a particular place in the world or region of the country.

I am so greatful for the travels I've experienced in my life. They have afforded me a wide variety of food exposure. I can honestly say that In almost every cuisine I've tried, I have found at least one thing that I consider comfort food. And I am still searching for more. When I find them, then I learn to make them, and how to change it slightly so its mine. Making something new is always wonderful, and fun. Its a challenge well worth the time and effort.

So please, adventure with an open mind and an empty stomach. Enjoy the Passion of the food around you.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How Food Shapes Us

I remember growing up and being in the kitchen with my mother. I remember asking her about the seasonings and how she did it. I know that she never measured and I wondered how you knew you had enough. She told me that it was about the taste, and what you liked. So for years I worked on it and learned what I liked above all else. When I finally figured that out, it was huge for me. I remember figuring out how to make my own recipes as a result.

One of the very first things I ever made my own was a shrimp and pasta dish. I have since come up with several of those, because Shrimp and Pasta are two of my very favorite things to eat in this world. And they are a great combination.

Another thing that I enjoy making is lamb. For me lamb is the absolute best thing ever. I worked hard to make lamb tasty and appealing to many people. I have family members who didn't like it. However, one time I made it and it was wonderful. I fed it to this cousin of mine. After he finished i asked him if he liked it. He said it was awesome, he loved it. By this time I was laughing so hard at him, and he didn't understand. I finally told him why, when i told him that he had just eaten lamb and loved it; he no longer had an excuse to say he didn't like lamb any longer. It was simply about how it was prepared. He had to grudgingly agree, but let me know in no uncertain terms that in the future he would ask me first what was for dinner before eating it.

Seasoning and flavor is truly what makes the food. Never let anyone else tell you otherwise. there are ingredients that are less than flavorful that we have eaten in different cuisines and on first try, i failed to make them taste good. Tofu is the one that stumped me the longest. However, now I have several different things that I make with it and several ways to use it. I love my tofu to be lightly fried up. i will season it simply, and then fry it in a wonderful olive oil so its browned on all sides. I love tofu just by itself, but its great in soups, salads and as a main dish with rice. I have used it in shakes and i have had it in a dessert. Its versatile and simple.

I'm a meat eater and I wont give it up, but I do love to eat vegan and vegetarian dishes as well. They are wonderful, healthy and filling without being over filling. For me its no different than eating a vegetable dish with my meal. I have found that I have had several friends, over the years, who were vegetarian or even vegan. As a cook and someone who loves to entertain, I like to make sure that I have a variety of dishes sitting there if I'm having guests over. that way no one feels slighted over not having a selection to eat with their meal as well.

People find what it is that they love, and they tend to eat those things and fix them. I love my pasta, rice and seafood. Not to mention vegetables and meat. I just love food. One of my sisters once told me that I could make anything taste gourmet. That made my heart sing, because I had lost touch with food for a while, due to circumstances in my life. But now, I am finding what it is that I want to do and what i want to make again. The passion is back.

I hope that we can get more people to come and see and watch what I post. I will be posting up some pictures and recipes soon along with a challenge to go with it. I hope to show you some awesome recipes and great food you can enjoy and try at home.

thanks for being here and checking me out.