Comfort food

After my mom died — just a couple of weeks ago — I really cherished all the warm expressions from friends and relatives. There were cards, e-mails, phone calls, flowers.

And there was food.

When we got home from Chicago, exhausted, Martha  brought over a big eggplant parmeggiana casserole–enough for a few nourishing and delicious dinners. (And she brought homemade madeleines for dessert too!)

Maggie and Scott sent a box of Seckel and Bosc pears from their orchard that satisfied my craving for fresh fruit.

My students gave me a big dark chocolate bar (and flowers and the sweetest card) and told me not to share it with anyone.

And Laurie drove over the mountains, bringing a box full of the last vegetables from her garden.

We tossed the chunks of squash, beets and carrots with some olive oil and salt and put it in the oven to roast to tenderness, adding some onion and garlic after the root vegetables were softened. And that was our brilliantly colored supper, so simple and warming.

All of these were comfort foods, coming as they did with so much kindness and thoughtfulness.

My sister Milly and I were reminiscing about the Old World comfort dish Mom used to make–as did, apparently, all other Jews of Eastern European extraction: Kasha Varnishkes. It’s composed of kasha (buckwheat groats), lots of onions cooked in chicken fat (or oil) and bowtie noodles. Mark Bittman has a good little article about this dish and an entertaining video on making it. Mom often made this as a vegetarian dish (using oil) and added sauteed mushrooms.

I will be making some soon.

Edith Arshack Sonneman, 1940



Filed under baked goods, dessert, fruit, musings, Uncategorized, vegetables

7 responses to “Comfort food

  1. martha

    thanks toby. you know my thoughts and prayers have been with you. love the comfort foods and the kasha dish is certainly that. amazing picture of your mom. xoxoxoxo martha (the other one)

  2. In the Wake of Discovery, by Carol Hogan

    Hi Toby, I wondered why you’d been so quiet after such a busy summer of posting and cooking. I’m sorry to hear about your mother and my heart goes out to you. I know what that’s like. Years later I am still wishing my mom was here to call for advice. Thanks for your comment yesterday.
    Aloha nui,

  3. Cathy mihalik

    No suprize that food is a comfort for you. So glad that friends can gather and support you. You are the best!!!!

  4. Rick Steigmeyer

    Baba’s caring and nurturing heart and soul lives on in you — and her great love of food! Rick

  5. Emily

    Those dishes look absolutely amazing. Food really is the best comfort. Sorry again for your loss…

  6. Johnson Carolyn

    Toby, I am sorry to hear about your Mom’s death but happy to hear that your life continues to be nurtured by those around you. I am in France now so I will eat a freshly harvested pear, drink a glass of wine with a plate of cheese (fermier, of course) and a baguette in memory of your mom and your life together. Her picture is so beautiful and a tribute to her life and to you. Take care and enjoy all that life gives you in its abundance. CJ

  7. Devera

    Toby, I’m thinking of you, so sorry to hear that your Mom died. You take care–Love, Devera

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