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Comfort cooking on rise amid virus

Comfort cooking on rise amid virus
Comfort cooking on rise amid virus
Suetta Tingler

Coronavirus chaos lingers in our kitchens. Many of you, like myself, made busy during the past months with cleaning, clearing, crafting, communicating and, of course, cooking more than the usual. Time spent within our homes affirmed the importance of knowing how to cook to feed ourselves and our families.

Research reports are already coming forth on what was happening in our pandemic kitchens. Ovens were being kept hot and busy as baking boomed, turning out favorites like cookies and breads, both sweet and savory, hence giving reason to why yeast and all-purpose flour became difficult to find at times in grocery stores.

Recipe searches on Google revealed an uptake for cheesecake, lasagna and French toast. The top five pursuits were for brownies, pizza dough, chicken, pancakes and banana bread.

Quarantine hours allowed time to try transforming aging fruit into jams and breads, kneading yeast doughs and tackling rolling pie crust from scratch. Some “in the bunkers” gave serious thought to growing “victory gardens” this summer as a way to supplement family food budgets as well as to raise morale.

It’s known that the average giant panda eats 12 or more hours a day. During quarantine, confined humans were quick to pick up panda-like eating habits by the countless trips made daily to their pantry or fridge looking for yet another snack.

Stressful times do not often trigger the urge for spinach salads and carrot sticks. Comfort cooking relying upon familiar brand names is what offers a hug when times are rough. Sales of Vienna sausages, Campbell’s soups, Spaghetti O’s, Prego tomato sauce, Duncan Hines cake mixes, Spam and Kool-Aid contributed heavily to pandemic menus. Mac ’n cheese and Chef Boyardee products made giant leaps into hungry stomachs as well.

As cooks-in-residence, let your imagination shine. Know what’s in your pantry and continue ongoing checks of freezer inventory. Identify recipes that lend themselves to the staples you stock. Keep a positive attitude and remain vigilant should a “pause” be necessary ought the virus escalate as doors re-open. As kitchens return to their “new normal,” maybe we all need to be guided by the Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared.”

These recipes aren’t fussy, won’t bore the taste buds and are lean on the wallet; therefore, enjoy and file.

No eggs, no butter, no milk, not even an electric mixer is needed for this first recipe.

DEPRESSION CAKE

1-1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup cooled, brewed black coffee

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan. Mix flour, sugar, cacao, baking soda and salt; poke 3 holes in the dry mixture. Pour vinegar into one hole, vanilla in the second hole and oil in the third. Pour coffee overall and stir until the mixture is well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 minutes or until the top is set but springy. Cool cake in pan; ice with your favorite fudge frosting.

Fire up the grill!

MARINADE FOR GRILLED CHICKEN

(“A Taste of Young Life” cookbook)

2 teaspoons dry mustard

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup lemon juice

3 cloves crushed garlic

Combine ingredients in a jar; shake well. Pour marinade over meat. Refrigerate overnight. Baste chicken with marinade while grilling.

Avoid food waste; use leftover rice in this next recipe. Tapioca pudding topped with mandarin orange sections make a delicious dessert.

BENIHANA FRIED RICE

(Top Secret Restaurant Recipes)

1 cup uncooked long grain raw rice (not instant)

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 tablespoons finely grated carrot

1/2 cup diced green onion

1-1/2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook rice following package directions; place in bowl and allow to cool. Scramble eggs; chop eggs into pea-size bits with a spatula while cooking. When rice is cooled, add the peas, carrot, eggs and onion to the bowl. Carefully toss mixture. Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium/high heat. When butter has completely melted, dump in rice mix and add soy sauce, salt and pepper. Cook rice mixture for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring often.

It’s all about salads for summertime meals.

CRUNCHY PEA SALAD

1 (16-ounce) package frozen green peas, thawed

1 head cauliflower, bite-size pieces

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream

1 (1-ounce) packet ranch salad dressing mix

In separate bowl, combine sour cream and dry salad dressing mix. Toss with vegetables; refrigerate. Serves 6 to 8.

This next recipe is so simple to be so delicious.

TOASTED PBJ

Peanut butter

Jelly

Bread

Spread peanut butter over half of bread slices being used then spread with jelly. Top with remaining bread slices. Spread butter over both sides of sandwich. Grill in skillet until golden brown, turning once.

Here’s a nice break from the usual breakfast or brunch, and it’s easy to increase servings.

MIGAS-TEX-MEX
OMELETTE

(“Cordon Bubba” cookbook)

5 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch strips

1 chopped onion

1 to 2 jalapeños, finely chopped

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1/4 bunch cilantro plus some for garnish

Butter, about 1 tablespoon

4 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Juice from 1/2 lime

In a frying pan, combine first five ingredients with a pat of butter on medium heat and sauté for a few minutes until onion softens. In small bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper; whisk. Combine with vegetables in frying pan and fold over until eggs are firm. Sprinkle with lime juice and serve with fresh cilantro. Makes 2 servings.

Food bite:

• Let color be your therapy during stressful times. Research shows that bright hues can perk up your glow from the inside out.

Good Food, Good Memories

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