Sunday, January 06, 2008

Comfort Food...



During the winter, I crave those childhood comfort foods. Most all of it is 'big' carbs – lots of complex carbohydrates – like breads, rice, potatoes, and pasta. Maybe it has something to do with being inside the house with time on my hands. Maybe it has to do with that still-warm bread I had after school so many years ago. Regardless, I like that stick-to-your ribs food at this time of the year.

What started me thinking along this line was a discussion of Frito chili pie on a local list. I had never heard of it until I moved to Oklahoma. The idea of a pie shell filled with chili had a peculiar appeal, but that's not Frito chili pie. No, it's a pile of Fritos with chili and cheese served on top. I've had it once or twice, and while it's clearly good belly fodder, I know the fat and salt aren't especially good for a middle-aged guy. It goes well with cold beer, though.

Chili is a staple here in Ranchero CycleDog. We have it about once a week. There are some philosophical differences between the various cooks. I prefer chili with chunks of beef cut like stew meat. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and her understudy wrinkle their noses at this. They prefer ground beef. Since I'm generally not permitted to assist with the more technical aspects of the culinary art and have to content myself with peeling potatoes, making bread in the machine, and servicing the dishwasher, my preferences are given short consideration. On those rare occasions when I commandeer the stove for our nightly meal, the kids whine and moan, pleading with their mother to go out to a restaurant for dinner.

Chili gives me big-time heartburn, though, so I try to temper it with some other foods. I like having it with a couple of thick slices of homemade bread, but lately I've been ladling it over a plate of rice.

Oklahoma's traditional New Year's meal that's supposed to bring good luck is black-eyed peas and cornbread. Again, the culinary mavens in the Ranchero have declared corn bread persona non grata. “Ya ain't getting' none o that 'round here, cause we ain't makin' it!” There's something to be said for black-eyed peas served with jalapeno corn bread, and beer, of course.


(Image from Geekologie)

The nearest approach to that is Mary's ham and Lima beans served over thick slices of homemade bread. My Dad had way too much of that back during the Great Depression, and he wouldn't eat it. Mary starts the dried beans the night before and changes the water several times to reduce the sugars. She cooks them in chicken broth with carrots and seasonings. I have to be careful about eating too much, but we generally don't do this more than once a month.

One other weekly staple is chicken and dumplings. I don't have to worry about eating too much of it, because if I'm not quick enough, it's gone before I can get seconds. Number One Son likes it a lot!

I have the bad habit of eating when I'm bored, and lately I've been bored a lot. My right knee has been giving me problems over the last year, and I've been off the bike since Thanksgiving. At times, I've had difficulty walking due to the pain. Several people have asked if I've gone to see a doctor about it, but I'm not keen to do so. I'll take it easy for awhile. The problem with that is it's boring! Chomp, chomp, chomp. The big carbs aren't a help.

...and there's garlic bread rising in the bread machine as I write this.


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4 Comments:

Blogger bother yam said...

I'm with you on the the cubed meat. Ground meat is just wrong...

But the great theological question about chili: to bean or not to bean? I'm sort of a fundementalist here with the No Bean sect.

8:23 AM  
Blogger The donut guy said...

I feel your pain Ed.

I have arthritis in both knees and it's a killer on cold days.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Ah, to bean or not to bean....

I always include beans, but there's some philosophical differences here about what kind. I like Pinto beans, but our kitchen communists don't, so they make it with kidney beans. if I recall right, when you combine beans with dairy products, you get the same proteins that you get from meat. What can I say? It's cheap nutrition, but it also gives me an excuse to put cheese on top of another dish!

And I do have to be careful about proteins. I have pseudo gout, a form of arthritis that's aggravated by the proteins found in beef, cheese, red wine, and beer. Yeah, I know those are my basic food groups. When my knees swells up like a football or my fingers hurt too much to type, I get serious about my diet. Normally, exercise helps, but not this time.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Bujiatang said...

We have been putting our chili on top of polenta lately. And it is absolutely fantastic.

We made some white chili a while back, and the bright flavor was a nice change from the smokier red chili.

9:19 AM  

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