Thursday, October 28, 2010

Guest Post #7: Comfort and Distraction

Editor’s note: This week, my friend Elaine — an exceptional unemployment comp and HR consultant, if you ever need one — talks about the comfort food of her childhood and offers two recipes passed down through the generations of her family.

by Elaine M. Davis, Guest Blogger

I fondly remember when I was a little girl, running out to meet my dad and carrying his lunch pail into the house when he got home from work each day. I adored my dad beyond reason at that age. Although I have some unhappy memories of that time — my parents divorced when I was about 7 — the memories that keep coming back these days are the happy ones.

I know it’s strange to think of a father cooking in the 1960s, but my dad did then and still does to this day. Among his many recipes, passed down from my nanny, are a Garlic Salt & Worcestershire Sauce Marinade for steak and, one of my favorites, the family recipe for Bread Pudding.


Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding
(Click here to view and print recipe)

Warm from the oven, with a smooth, custardy texture and milk poured over it, bread pudding is one of my ultimate comfort foods. Though it may seem like an anachronism — it was originally created to give new life to old, hard, or stale bread, after all — bread pudding is still good old-fashioned food.

Speaking of comfort food: My mother’s Catholic Irish-German family is a large and pretty tight-knit bunch. Of course, there were bound to be recipes! Homemade applesauce, German potato salad, great meatloaf, and others were passed down through the family to future generations. But the one my mother became famous for making? Fruit Cocktail Cake.

Fruit Cocktail Cake

Fruit Cocktail Cake
(Click here to view and print recipe)

Even if you don’t like fruit cocktail from a can (or if you prefer fresh fruit as I normally do), this recipe is sure to please. If you’re a fan of homemade banana or zucchini bread, this cake has a similar texture, but the coconut in the glaze drizzled over the cake gives it just enough sweetness to set it apart from those breads, into something much more unique and satisfying.

Dense and moist with its glaze, this cake is so yummy, you can’t stop with one piece. You just have to have a smidgen more! So, if you’re looking for a new sweet, I highly recommend this one!

Memories are powerful things. You might find yourself in an antique store and see a toy exactly like one you used to play with as a child, and suddenly all those happy childhood memories come flooding back. Or you could be like me, finding comfort when you bake and enjoy dishes passed down through your family.

My nanny’s bread pudding and my mom’s fruit cocktail cake, they connect me to my past in a good way. And in the busy and complicated world of adulthood, who wouldn’t welcome such a nice distraction?


Joe Ambrosino said...

Two really nice recipes, Maria! Thanks.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Beautiful guest post and recipes. My dad was a good cook and we often liked his dishes better than my Moms!