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Cook’s Corner: Comfort food for uncomfortable times

By Lisa Tindell

Comfort foods for uncomfortable times

It isn’t the result of a rash of tornadoes or a hurricane, but the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic can certainly be labeled as a disaster.

Throughout time, man has been encouraged to have a disaster preparedness plan in place and now is no different than when other disasters happen. The upside to this disaster is that we at least still have electricity and the ability to prepare a hot meal at home.

However, with limited availability of some food items, meal preparation can be a bit tricky. If you’d planned on making homemade biscuits for the family breakfast, you may be out of luck unless you stocked up before the pandemic hit. Over the last two weeks, finding flour in any form has been a challenge if not impossible. The same was true early on for meats and other protein sources with a slow replenishing of things like ground beef and fresh poultry in local grocery stores. That, thankfully, has not been an issue for the past several days.

With folks spending more time at home and less time out enjoying a restaurant meal, preparing meals has become more common for more and more families. To that end, I have found a few recipes that are old and can provide a healthy meal and maybe even bring a little comfort as well.

If you are one of those who didn’t stock up on white flour before the virus hit the country, you may have to resort to corn meal products to fill that desire for bread at your next meal. The following recipe is an old-time favorite and has been prepared as an accompaniment to many meals through the years by grandmothers everywhere.

Hoe Cakes

Ingredients:

1/4 c. melted shortening or oil

1 1/2 c. self-rising cornmeal

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 1/4 c. buttermilk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tbsp. shortening, melted

Prepare:

Heat 1/4 cup shortening or oil to 365 degrees in an electric skillet or on medium-high heat in a heavy skillet. Combine cornmeal and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add buttermilk, egg and one tablespoon melted shortening. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour 1/4 cup batter into skillet for each hoe cake. Fry 1 or 2 minutes or until golden brown on each side. Add additional shortening, if necessary. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately. 6 servings.

If finding a good, fresh protein source becomes difficult, there are options that come in a can that would fit the bill and save the day. Canned fish such as salmon and mackerel are a good source of protein and are usually overlooked by modern cooks. The old-time favorite of salmon patties can be a wonderful addition to a family feast even if it isn’t a new idea. Find a can on the shelf on your next grocery store trip and add a little zest to the contents and it’s sure to become a comfort food for your family. There are as many recipes for this dish as there are surnames, but this one is a basic one that will allow for the addition of other species and seasonings to the taste your family prefers.

Old-fashioned salmon patties

Ingredients:

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 large egg, beaten

5 saltines, crushed

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 can (14-3/4 ounces) salmon, drained, bones and skin removed

2 teaspoons butter

Prepare:

In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients. Crumble salmon over mixture and mix well. Shape into 6 patties. In a large skillet over medium heat, fry patties in butter for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until set and golden brown.

I hope that your family finds some new (or old) favorite recipes and plans a few meals together to enjoy around the dining room table.