Last updated 1/9/2017 at 5:57pm
On cold winter days I always think of how hard it must have been for our ancestors who lived in inhospitable lands, how they struggled to keep warm and find food. I dare say they were strong and hearty souls who handled discomfort far better than we do.
They taught themselves to make foods with endurance, things like Buffalo jerky, dried corn made into pemmican with dried fruit, nuts and oils, flat breads, thick soups and stews. Comfort foods are just that: food we can have over and over without getting too tired of it. They go beyond taste, they are memories, structure and symbols of how we live our lives.
In our family, we have several favorite comfort foods. I think number one would be my grandmother's mashed potatoes and her root medley, another version of those potatoes. Then there's mom's cranberry bread chutney which became a staple year round as well as a great gift to those who had had a taste of it. In fact, I just made a whole batch, doubling the recipe, for gifts. It is one of my favorite food gifts.
Have ready before starting:
2 buttered cookie sheets
2 clean teaspoons
1 cup chopped walnuts
Start with a heavy saucepan and put 1/2 to 1 pound of light brown sugar in it and a shake of salt and a chunk of butter the size of an egg. Cook until it makes a soft ball. Take off the stove immediately. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Now stir in the walnuts and a couple of tablespoons of Marshmallow Fluff, stir constantly until ready to spoon out. Use the teaspoons to make individual pieces on the cookie sheets. Let harden and store in cool, dry place.
GRANDMA'S ROOT MEDLEY
5 pounds of potatoes (all-purpose, red, new, russets or gold), cut up
3 pounds sweet potatoes, cut up
1 small yellow turnip, cubed
1 celery root, cut up
1 small parsnip, sliced small
Peel all vegetables and cook in water until soft and mashable. Whip them together to blend the flavors. You may want to add some butter and milk to aid in the mashing, but it tastes just as good without it.