“Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.”

I’m close to screaming in frustration. Today will be hot yet again. That the humidity will be less is small consolation. I have the AC off for a while, but the temperature in the house has risen three degrees already so soon enough I’ll be stuck behind closed doors and windows. I did finish one of my errands yesterday, but that still leaves one more for today.

The kitchen in the house where I lived the longest was tiny. When the oven was lit, the kitchen quickly got hot and stayed that way long after dinner was finished. My mother, during the summer, cooked on the stove top. She made stuff like pasta, hamburgers, fried dough and even hot dogs. She never grilled. Her dinner sides were sometimes potato salad or pasta salad. She never made a green salad. Dessert was always a maybe dependent on what was in the house. It could have been cookies, Oreos of course, or ice cream or a popsicle. My favorite popsicle was root beer followed by a close second, cherry. If neither was available, an orange would do just fine. 

Some people I know don’t ever eat leftovers. I don’t get that. Some food tastes better the next day. My chili is always best the day after I make it so I usually make it the day before I need it. That way any fat gets skimmed. I like leftover pasta. Add fresh garlic bread, some cheese and you have a perfect meal. 

Winter has comfort food. It keeps us warm and brings back memories. Summer has hot dogs and hamburgers best cooked on a grill. You have to toast the buns. 

My mother used to make piccalilli every fall when there were green tomatoes. She made New England style piccalilli with those green tomatoes, red peppers, onions, brown sugar, cider vinegar and some spices like mustard powder and a few others I don’t remember. She’d give us all a couple of jars. I’d use it sparingly so it would last longer. I swear a hot dog with my mother’s piccalilli was perfection in a bun. 

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14 Comments on ““Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.””

  1. Hedley Says:

    The house had heat downstairs but not upstairs. Electric wall bars took the chill off the bedrooms but the bath water ran cold very quickly. In our kitchen was the furnace, powered by coke. Outside were two concrete bunkers one for coal and the other for coke. The fireplace in the living room ran constantly on the coal supply.

    Today, the heat is all over the Midwest, drapes are closed the air conditioner units and the furnaces are blasting. The house is a tolerable 73 and the electric bill will be something hugely intolerable.

    Its too hot to walk, the air is thick and I have no motivation to push on around the block in something called a heat index. I don’t need an index, I know its friggin hot.

  2. katry Says:

    My Dear Hedley,

    In Marrakech they had those electric wall bars. Even with them on the room was chilly. At the foot of my bed when I was young was a radiator. I went to sleep with the sound of water traveling through the bars and steam hissing. We had a giant tank in the cellar for the oil which kept the house warm and the water hot.

    My house is a wonderful 70˚but the air was cranking for a long time as it was 77˚ when I turned it on earlier. I don’t acer about the electric bill. I would much rather be comfortable.

    I just let Gracie out and was hit with a blast of heat when I opened the door for her. She won’t be out long!

    The water temperature is 76˚ so you know how hot the air must be!

    • Hedley Says:

      Kat

      One of my favorite warmers was in France – I had gone on an exchange when I was a kid and we stayed for a while in an old house/chateau (yes it was quite big) in the countryside – At night they would send us to bed with a heated brick

      • katry Says:

        MDH,
        That sounds like the pioneer days. I have a brick holder which is an antique, but I don’t know its age.

        My favorite was the peat fire in Ireland. It smelled delightful.

      • Hedley Says:

        Kat

        Where the heck did I put that old hot water bottle ?

      • Birgit Says:

        Hot water bottle…, mine looks like a penguin (German: Pinguin) so I named it Ping Floyd.

      • katry Says:

        MDH,
        If my mother were still with us, I’d check her linen closet as I think she always had one there.

      • katry Says:

        Love it, Birgit!

  3. Bob Says:

    Piccalilli is not something I like regardless what kind. My spouse is from Chicago and a Chicago style hot dog is made with piccalilli that is bright green. Pickles should be sour not sweet. A hot dog is such a versatile meal. I like a NY style kosher dog with brown mustard and sour kraut but not with chili, nor onions, nor with ketchup, nor with cheese. I would never dress a dog with a pickle spear or tomatoes. Every thing but the kitchen sink is acceptable somewhere on dogs. However, a Fenway Frank still makes my mouth water whenever I see a Red Sox game on TV. It was the sausage and the split top roll.

    My aunt’s house in NY when I was a kid was heated with steam. Each room had radiators which hissed and gurgled. The bathroom had electric space heaters built into the walls.

    Now we have central air and heat. The AC uses chilled water that is circulated throughout the building from giant cooling towers. In winter the water is heated from boilers. Each apartment has a thermostat but the mantencece people switch the system from hot to cold and back again in the Spring and Fall.

    Another hot day with a couple of scattered thunderstorms. I heard thunder this evening but no rain here.


    • Bob,
      Piccalilli isn’t a pickle in any form. It is pickled vegetables. I think it gets made differently in places based on the spices used. I wouldn’t like sauerkraut with anything and not on my hot dogs. I add piccalilli or relish and mustard. I love the hot dogs at Fenway. They just have a special flavor.

      That description of your aunt’s house was my childhood home. The radiator was at the foot of my bed. I heard the water gurgle and then the hissing of the steam.

      I have forced hot air for my heat which made it easy to add central air as the AC used the same pipes as for the heat.

      I want rain. It has been so long. I don’t count the 15 minutes Saturday. That’s hardly rain. We need a huge storm.

      Boston was over 90˚ again today.


  4. We have cool weather and I must admit I love it 🙂 The kitchen door has satyed open almost all day.

    Our kitchen was also tiny and hot. There was actuakky room for a tiny table but only three people could eat there at te same time and all the food had to be placed on the kitchen sink or still left in the pots and pans.

    Leftovers are the best 🙂 Pasta sauce only gets better like chilli as You mention or a stew. Or when You take all leftovers for a few days and fry them with potatoes and an egg or two 🙂 sometimes I make too much just because of that 🙂

    Dessert was very rare in my home, only on specioal ocasions but since I quite often ate at my best friends home I had it anyway, they had dessert every day like canned fruit with ice cream 🙂

    Have a great day!

    Christer.


    • Christer,
      We are still hot. Have had the air conditioning going since early yesterday afternoon. The house feels great, outside not so great.

      Ou table could seat the four kids. My mother always ate standing up while my father wasn’t home during the week for dinner. He worked late.

      My friend’s father won’t eat leftovers. He wouldn’t even eat all the wonderful Thanksgiving leftovers.

      My mother seldom made desserts except for holidays. The cookies were there so we ate them after dinner.

      Have a great day!

  5. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Just catching up again. Yesterday’s errand was to get four new tires for the jeep. Ouch. $$$ But the old ones were drying out and falling apart. Three out of four of them had the black stuff on the side peeling off in great flakes.

    My mother didn’t make piccalilli. Her whole family preferred Howards piccalilli on their hot dogs and beans. Sometimes they added raw onions marinated in apple cider vinegar.
    The California relatives brought cases of Howards back home with them whenever they visited. I haven’t seen the old Howards piccalilli in the stores lately. Mostly now it’s sweet red pepper piccalilli. But that’ll do on a hot dog. 🙂

    I’m eating leftovers this week. Potato salad from the deli. Cold fried or broiled chicken that was cooked by someone else somewhere else other than my kitchen. Tomatoes and lettuce and pickled beets. I’m not even firing up the toaster for morning English muffins. The coffee is iced. A lot of ice.

    The dogs and I have been for three walks today. It’s not as nasty as yesterday but it’s still nasty. I put them out on the lines for a few minutes while I filled the bird bath and watered some plants. They sniffed about for a minute and went to sit on the top step by the door. They were only too happy to go back into the coolth. As was I.

    Enjoy the AC and the day.


    • Hi Caryn,
      I guess it was time for new tires! Now you’ll even be ready for snow. It is strange to think of snow in the middle of this horrid hot spell.

      I love Howard’s as well. When I didn’t have any of my mother’s, I bought Howard’s, still do.

      I have finished my leftovers from Saturday and now have a shepherd’s pie I bought the other day. It is from the Centerville Pie Company which makes amazing pies. Tonight I’m having corn.

      I did errands, but Gracie stayed inside the house. She is really affected by the heat. I watered the outside plants yesterday, but they probably could use it again today.

      You stay cool too!!


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