Comfort food in isolation

“I had the strangest dream last night,” my husband said one morning (well actually he says that most mornings). “I dreamed about goulash. That sounds so good.”

“Hmm. I haven’t made that in a long time,” I replied. For some reason I had been thinking about goulash. My mother used to make it often: a cheap, easy, filling meal. I could not remember exactly how to make it.

The Internet yielded several ideas that I combined. I added special seasoning to cooked hamburger and sausage before adding heaps of chopped and sauteed onions, celery, broccoli, green peppers, cooked pasta shells and spaghetti sauce. It was not the way my mom used to prepare it. It was much more complicated. It smelled and tasted fantastic.

We each scarfed it up a large serving, considered seconds and decided we shouldn’t. With mandated social isolation on top of six weeks of home recovery from hip replacement, we had eaten more than our share of comfort food to remind us of happier days. We didn’t need extra servings.

We both liked it so much that I posted on Facebook, “Made goulash for the first time in a while. Tasty supper.”

My darling daughter replied, “I am not a picky eater AT ALL…. but goulash is by far my least favorite dish.”

And my little brother wrote, “I agree.” Humph, and I used to cook supper for him.

Okay so goulash did not make their favorite foods list. Still, it served as my comfort food that day. I define comfort food as, “I don’t care how many calories it has, I’m unhappy and I want this food. I will feel happier if I eat it.”

Evidently during social isolation I have needed comfort food. At least, that’s my explanation for the baking spree in the kitchen. First, I made chocolate cake with vanilla frosting like my mom made. Then, I made a spice cake with penuche frosting, just like Mom made. I cooked brown sugar with butter and milk in a saucepan over heat. I stirred until it thickened then quickly added confectionery sugar and vanilla to create a delightful, caramel fudge frosting. I wanted to eat all the frosting. I controlled myself and smoothed the frosting over the cake. I did make sure I left enough in the bowl to satisfy me. I also swiped a few spoonfuls from around the edge of the cake.

Seeking more comfort, I pulled a couple of pie shells from the chest freezer and decided it was time to use those peeled and frozen apples to make a Dutch apple pie. I enjoyed every bite I didn’t have to share with hubby.

The other crust I reserved for lemon pie. I couldn’t find a lemon pudding mix at the store. So I pulled out the old Betty Crocker cookbook and began measuring sugar, lemon, cornstarch and water to heat in a pan. I stirred, brought the mixture to a boil and poured it in the baked shell. I whipped the egg whites to shiny peaks and baked the meringue to a perfect brown top.

My pride in the perfect pie almost kept me from eating it. It only took one delightful bite to erase that silly notion.

I do like my carbs and desserts. Which probably explains why as a child I needed clothes sized for a chubby girl. Fortunately my baking spree of comfort foods ceased abruptly. Our oven stopped heating in the middle of baking the cornbread I really wanted for supper. About that same time strict social isolation ended. I’m not complaining, any more comfort food and I would have needed chubby old lady clothes.

About jottingjoan

retired former newspaper writer. Many children and grandchildren. One husband.
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