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Posts Tagged ‘comfort’

My friend coined this expression, when discussing books that you go to for comfort, like comfort food. She was referring to Nora Roberts books, which have happy endings, require little thought, and grip you enough that you forget your troubles. I definitely have some Nora Roberts books that I go to for comfort, such as The Witness, Angels Fall, The Mackades, The Winning Hand, and probably much more. But my ultimate in comfort books is The Blue Castle, by L M Montgomery (yup, the same one that wrote Anne of Green Gables).

Granted, it’s also a type of romance novel. The ending is also happy, some might say even forcibly so. But it’s also satirical and laugh out loud funny, and just looks at everything in a slanted way that I find very soothing. It’s outdated (from the beginning of last century) and that is also part of its charm, as it reflects the social mores of that time very well – and mercilessly shoots them down. It’s gripping, light, funny, sweet, romantic, and interesting. In short, the literary equivalent of comfort food 🙂 Obviously, 5 stars.

What is your “comfort book”?

Update: I completely forgot to mention that for ebook lovers, The Blue Castle is available for free at the gutenberg project. Enjoy!

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I spent most of the day banging my head against the wall of bureaucracy. Circumstances dictated that I find a child neurologist ASAP to look at my son. Apparently, this is impossible. The best I got was a polite secretary who said that I could fax them a request and they would get back to me within 10 business days. I almost told her just as politely to *** off,  but I heroically restrained myself. It wasn’t her fault, after all.
Before the holiday, I checked with a local bakery that stocks gluten-free cakes and bread, and they promised they would have gluten-free sufganiot (Hanukkah donuts). I was really looking forward to the comfort food along with a family candle lighting.
They didn’t have them.
So I soothed myself with baking. I can’t get an appointment in the next decade, but at least the house smells good and we eat awesome sufganiot 🙂 And my eldest dazzled us by giving a guitar concert of Hanukkah songs (he already knows two chords!) and we sat and sang together and relaxed.
A most excellent end to a bad day.

Gluten-free baked sufganiot *
Based on this recipe.

Ingredients
300 gr gluten-free Tagmish flour.
2 tsp dry yeast
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
50 gr softened butter
1 egg
150 ml milk
50 ml water

Mix dry ingredients together. Then add liquids. Process in a mixer fitted with dough hooks until you get a ball of dough that is just a bit too sticky. DON’T add flour. Oil the dough and let rest until doubled in volume (it took me ~3 hours). Split into 20 small balls,  about 30 gr each.  Now dough should be easy to work with. Flatten each ball.  Place 1/2 tsp filling of choice (I used jam in some and Nutella in the rest) in center and close around the filling, shaping it into a ball again. Place in lined baking tray, seam side down.

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After rising a few minutes

Cover and let rise for about half an hour. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 160 °C or until golden.

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Sprinkle icing sugar on top and serve.

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Not much left...

Happy Hanukkah!

* Obviously , these don’t taste like real sufganiot. But they still taste really good!

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I’ve been going at full speed the last few days, so today I took things easy and worked from home. One of the perks of working from home, for me, is to take the time to make and eat a proper breakfast, with a cup of earl grey and milk, and a good book.

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The epitome of peace

So we have a mushroom, herb and cheese omelet, toasted whole wheat bread and butter. For some reason, I  never pack a butter sandwich, or a cheese omelet to take to work.  For me, this is the essence of taking it easy.

Mushroom, herbs and cheese omelet 
Heat oil (can also be olive) in a frying pan. Place sliced mushrooms in one layer in the pan. When browned, turn over and pour eggs mixed with milk, a dash of salt and some snipped herbs (I used parsley and dill, use what you have). Wait until firm and brown on the bottom, then flip over. Place two slices of cheese on half the omelet, wait a minute the fold in half over the cheese. When cheese is melted, move to a plate and eat immediately.

If I’m still hungry, another small pleasure I usually don’t take time for is a tomato and cucumber salad, cut small, with a large splash of good olive oil, a small splash of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. Simple, but I’m the only one in my family who eats this so I make it only when I’m eating at home alone. You can imagine how often that happens. 😉

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So simple, so good

Sometimes the simple things are all we need…

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I really felt like a good exotic rich soup. Unfortunately, I cannot really make a soup like this, because my husband likes chicken soup, vegetable soup and tomato soup. In extreme situations he is willing to eat onion soup, but that is as far as it gets. My kids like chicken soup only, and even then only their grandparent’s chicken soup, never mine. So the solution was simple: We invited people to dinner for Shabbat, and that way I had an excuse to make an interesting soup.

I regularly get the food magazine “Derech HaOchel” (The food road/way, very loosely translated), and they had seven soups of different colors, ranging from green split pea and mint soup to black bean soup. I thought of making the white soup (cauliflower) but in the end went for the orange soup (pumpkin-carrot-coconut). I really liked the idea of coconut, as it makes the soup creamy without making it dairy. Also, I hoped there was a chance my eldest would at least taste it (he loves coconut).

I am almost embarrased to admit it, but though I’ve been cooking for more than ten years I have never made what is known in Israel as “orange soup”. I like it, and I ate it, and I know what is usually in it: pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, onion. But I never made it.

So: If not now, when?

So I got to work! (… with some changes, of course 🙂 )

Ingredients:

Olive oil for frying
1 onion, chopped small (I use the food processor)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 kg carrots, peeled and chopped (food processor for that too)
500 gr pumpkin, chopped (ditto)
0.5 liter water
1 cup of strong lemongrass tea (ideally, one stalk of lemongrass, but I didn’t have any so I used this instead)
0.5-1 tsp dried thyme (ideally fresh, but didn’t have that either)
1 can coconut milk
salt & pepper to taste
0.5-1 tsp mild curry powder (optional)

Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until transparent. Add the carrot, and fry for another 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin and fry for for another five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tea , water, thyme and curry (if using) and cook until the vegetables are soft. Taste occasionally, but don’t worry if the taste of thyme is very strong as it gets milder during the cooking. Add the coconut milk. Blend the soup to smooth consistency (I used a “stick” blender to blend in the pot, it was so easy and quick). Make sure the soup is heated through and done!

For serving, you can chop some spring onions and sprinkle on top for extra colour and taste.

Looks good enough to eat!

My guest liked it very much; my eldest did in fact taste it, but decided he didn’t like it. I am sure that if I make it more frequently though, he would like it. I loved it – it was creamy and comforting. I also discovered later that it freezes excellently. And it was absolutely delicious.

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