Friday, April 10, 2015

"Comfort Food?" Sweet, Salty, Tart, Citrus, Beef, Chicken, Pork.. Chinese, Tex-Mex, Hometown American, French, ORA is it another? WEGO #HAWMC

WEGO Health Writer's Challenge April 10, 2015

Friday and What We like for "Comfort Food?" Do I cook, bake, and make most meals at home "from scratch?" The answer is YES! I am a home grown Texas/Czech background, and my tastes very widely. Fro, made here in our town "Klobase" (usually half pork and half venison with LOTS of black pepper) stuffed into a casing and smoked in a smoker, to Poppy Seed rolls, Kolaches (sweet pastry dough with prune, cream cheese, apricot, or other types of filling put in a little "well" in the middle of the dough. Then allowed to rise and then bake. Just to name a few down home "Czech" favorites around my home town.

I've been one that LOVES to bake sweets all my life. From fudge, to "no-bake fruitcakes". From Red Velvet Cakes, to lemon custard pie, you name it I love to bake it.

I also am quite the user of a "slow cooker" or "crock pot", depending on what name you choose to call it.

So, if I had to pick a favorite that I cook, and consider "comfort food" is a bit difficult for me. I LOVE sweets so well, and usually if I am stressed or upset, the first thing I think is, cookies, pie, cake, or just about anything sweet around.

But, my home made all from scratch slow cooker low in fat, carbs and calories has to be my favorite to cook, and what I would say is my favorite "comfort food".

My chili contains very little "beef". I know that sounds nuts, but I use "ground turkey" for a large portion of the "meat". Then I usually buy a very small portion of beef, usually something like "stew meat" or a piece of a cheaper piece of beef, because I know it will definitely tenderize by the time it is ready to eat. I also for the mot part have cut down a large amount of the "tomato" base for my chili. Both my husband and I have problems with GERD, thus one of the reasons I first of all make my own chili, and enough for several meals to freeze, plus I can keep up with the calorie count in the portions making sure I put in it, what I want to taste it like when I'm through.

I also rather than so much "meat" of any kind put LOTS of different types of beans in it. Quite often I'll have some of my pinto beans in the freezer, and I use some of them in the chili But, I also pick up about 10 cans of different types of beans to go into it. I love the very dark kidney beans, and the light ones also I also use a few cans of black beans, red beans and if I don't have any of my own cooked, then I add a couple of cans of pinto beans into the mix. It varies, but usually there are on the average of 10 cans of all different types that truly give it that thickness and hardiness that chili needs. Plus I rinse all of them off to rid a great deal of the sodium in them, plus I don't want the juices in those cans to "mix" with the taste of the chili, Then I add several different types of steak sauces into it. I try to limit myself to 1 can of either tomato paste, or better a can of roasted tomatoes in it. From the couple of steak sauces, to the tiny amount of tomato, then I put some white or yellow finely chopped onion into it, a bay leaf, a good deal of chili powder (we like a lot but it is up to your preference) as far as how much to use. What I do is start out with a bit less of all of my spices. I allow the entire thing to come to a good boil in the cooker, then add more as it cooks. There is cumin it in, a bit of paprika that is more for color than taste, LOTS of black pepper, some sea salt, but I try and stay away from as much sodium as possible without ruining the flavors of the chili. Sometimes I put some chopped garlic in it, but just a tiny amount. I don't want to overpower the other spices with too much garlic.

As it cooks, if it seems to be too thick then in small amounts I add very hot water to it, then wait and watch before I add more.

My very favorite way to eat it is usually the next day, after it has cooks for 8 t0 10 hours in the slow cooker, with corn chips, mustard and a bit of grated cheese on it. If you are not familiar with "Frito Chili Pie"... probably more of a Southern/Texan sort of dish, then you are missing out for sure.

Cooking as a whole has always been another one of the ways that I tend to get rid of my stress. Once I'm in the kitchen, then my attention is completely focused on whatever I am preparing. There are many great memories surrounding me from years past when I am baking or cooking. We always had a huge dinner at my Grandparents home all the years I was growing up. Most of the cousins were about the same age, so Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and others give me that special feeling as a child of the love that was shared and prepared in that kitchen.

My Grandmother who was full Czech, took care of me the years before I went to school. So, I spent lots of time in the kitchen with her, watching, then getting old enough to help and those memories also hold a very special place in my heart. Even though she has been gone now for about 12 years, the special times in her kitchen will always remain vivid in my thoughts.


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