Amy Artisan

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A Full Plate: Comfort Food

Have you ever thought about your life being a full plate? Family, friends, work, hobbies, travels, life experiences and more – all are arranged on your plate. Sometimes they are arranged in a way that is comforting and satisfying; other times they are arranged in ways that seem to be overflowing and not enjoyable.

Earlier this spring I had the opportunity to read the advanced copy of Kate Jacob’s newest book, Comfort Food. In Kate’s first novel, she created a knitting shop and community that invited you to bring your knitting project and join them as they knit through all that life dealt. With Comfort Food, Kate brings you behind the scenes of the celebrity chef/food television world and lets you sample from a menu of tasty food, family drama, friendships and work relationships, and more.

The story centers on Augusta “Gus” Simpson – a celebrity chef and host of Cooking with Gusto! As she nears 50 she is faced with “a full plate” of change and turmoil. Where previously her life was plated in a way that each food didn’t touch she is suddenly presented with “a full plate” where someone has taken a fork & swirled all the parts together. Throughout the course of several months, Gus navigates through the reality of being viewed as an aging network star who must compete with “the next new thing” in a younger, exotic chef; establishing adult based relationships with her 2 twentysomething daughters; discovering plans for the future are no longer stable.

As I curled up with the book and a mug of coffee, I was quickly pulled into world of Gus and her family and friends and felt as if I was invited into Gus’s world whether at the breakfast table with her neighbor (who had a ‘secret’ past) or around the kitchen island where everyone was gathered for taping her show. When I finished the book on a Sunday evening I felt the story was very satisfying and left a pleasant taste in my mouth – much like a well seasoned meal.

The book is released this week and Kate begins a book tour to support it. Additionally, if you are interested, she will call into your book club to discuss Comfort Food or The Friday Night Knitting Club. In February, my book club (of non-knitters) had a delightful evening discussing FNKC with Kate; our May meeting will be hearing her read at a local book store and we look forward to having her discuss Comfort Food in the future.

Thanks to Kate’s publisher, I have several copies of Comfort Food and some other treats to give away. Instead of giving them all away at once, I am going to have a few contests in the next couple of weeks. Let’s get the first contest started…between now and May 21st leave a comment on this post with: 1) a favorite comfort food & 2) the reason/story behind why that food brings you comfort. I’ll put all of the comments in a mixing bowl & select 5 to receive a copy of Comfort Food.

Comfort food comes in all flavors…Sometimes it’s the fried egg sandwich that your Dad would make on Sunday evenings…Sometimes it’s your Mom’s chicken & rice salad that is a sign spring is here…Sometimes it’s a frappe that reminds of you of travels with your sister & friends…Sometimes it is homemade egg custard when you are ill…What is your comfort food?
 

23 Comments

  1. Awww… I loved Friday Night Knitting Club soooo much. I wanted her to make Comfort Food the sequel. heh Surely there’s a sequel, right? Like she comes back to life and it was all a bad dream? Or she haunts the shop and …. no? Ugh.

    Comfort Food. I’ve always had two comfort foods, but one is moreso. Seems that comfort food is always something that’s either very easy to fix or you never fixed it. Like maybe you buy it. I don’t know. But comfort food, but nature, seems never to be complicated.

    My comfort food, which I’ve rarely prepared in my adulthood (but totally could any time), is “Macaroni Tomatoes and Bacon” which my mom often made when she didn’t have a lot of time for a meal. And was a comfort food from her childhood. The sweet salty acid taste is easy for me to remember. And I remember always telling my mom “Oh, that’s my favorite” when she’d say we were having it for dinner. It probably points to a place in my life, quite memory specific. That’s part of the comfort. The place of innocence in childhood. Surely that’s a lot of the comfort in comfort food, right?

    Recipe: Cooked elbow macaroni, crumbled fried bacon, chopped canned tomatoes. Combine, then add sugar to taste. Serve warm.

  2. I have many comfort foods which all remind me of my mom. My mom passed away four years ago from cancer. Whenever I am down, sick or just miss her, I “try” to make one of the foods that reminds me of her. One of my favorites is soft boiled eggs with bread in a bowl. I still haven’t figured out how to make it exactly like her. She used to make this for me when I was sick. As a mom of young kids, it’s rare that I am able to be sick.
    Recently, I was so sick, and I just couldn’t do much. I tried 2 times to get the eggs/bread just like her, and I couldn’t. So bummed.

  3. Well – I do love Amy Artisan’s mom’s chicken and rice salad. I think Amy first made it for us when my husband had just had surgery. I also LOVE macaroni and cheese, the crusty, baked variety. It reminds me of of my great-grandfather, who made a delicious recipe. There is a restaurant in my neighborhood that makes a tasty version (with an added kick from chili of some kind), but I don’t indulge very often. Not great for the waistline!

  4. My comfort food is pasta with cheese, but there are no specific memories linked to it. The first thing that comes to mind for a sentimental food is black-eyed peas or lady cream peas. My Granny, who passed away last summer, made the best peas. I lived outside of Texas for about 17 years. Every time she could get fresh peas she would make a big batch for for me and freeze them until I came home OR someone could bring them to me.

  5. My comfort food is “Grammy’s Bread” which is similar to babka. It is my paternal grandmother’s recipe. Over the last couple of years, I have become the one in my family to carry on her tradition of baking it. It is my favorite comfort food because tasting it brings a flood of memories of my dear Grammy each time. The act of making it, though I never made it with Grammy, reminds me of my connections to my roots and brings more memories.

  6. My favorite comfort food is tea. No, really. Tea with milk and sugar. It is warm and comforting and I can have it any time, day or night, any place.

  7. Oh, comfort food! I adore good, from-scratch, macaroni and cheese – Mom always made it with true Vermont Extra-Sharp Cheddar and it was slow cooked in the oven. The rich cheesy goodness could chase away a chill, ennui, the worst bad mood…I make it now, using Martha’s Mac n Cheese 101 recipe (since Mom never wrote anything down!) and add in a touch of Gruyere (1/2 a cup or so) to the VT cheese for just a touch of difference in flavor. Hmm…might have to make that real soon.

    I so enjoyed Jacob’s The Friday Night Knitting Club – this sounds like a good read, as well!
    (((hugs)))

  8. My all-time favorite was my mother’s chicken and dumplings. I never make it because A) She didn’t follow a recipe, so mine never tastes the same; B) the young broiler/fryer chickens you get these days don’t taste anything like the stewing chickens she used when I was a kid; and C) My husband is a vegetarian, so I don’t cook meat or poultry any more anyway. But that was what I always asked for as my “birthday dinner”.

  9. Mashed Potatoes! They’re warm, filling, great as left-overs and they can be used in creative ways. Besides that, potatoes are inexpensive. No matter how hard times have been throughout my life I’ve almost always had potatoes. When available then chocolate is always good too. Lupin was right, it makes you feel better. And not just when the dementors are around. Cheers!

  10. I have two comfort foods. One is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They’re easy and I feel like a kid again when I eat them. The other is spaghetti. My mom would make a huge batch of spaghetti sauce and freeze it. We had spaghetti a lot. Eating pasta almost always makes me feel better.

  11. I love almost everything my mom cooks, but her wontons are absolutely my favourite comfort food. I boil them up in some tom yum gai soup and chow down happily!

  12. The book sounds like a good story! For me the ultimate comfort food is mashed potatoe and gravy. Good solid stick to your ribs, hot and black peppery. Lots of gravy, not brown gravy, but a good creamy style gravy. Lol, got a visual? I think I love this meal because as a child money was quite tight at times, single mom no child support, and this staple was cheap and easy and warm in the cold new england winter nights. It always filled the belly like a big hug! So I still enjoy this best today. Lol, poor hubby has gone crazy looking for this on a few trips when a bug would strike!

  13. Glad to hear she has a new book out. I have to say I have a couple of comfort foods for different reasons.

    I do love tea; there is something comforting on a cold and rainy day about a good cuppa tea. I also love brown rice with a bit of oil and some frozen green peas (my husband and son would say green peas are my comfort food – they always seem to soothe my nausea) when I am feeling nauseated or under the weather, which happens a lot.

    My other favourite comfort food is popcorn. Not too much butter but just a big bowl of traditionally made on the stove popcorn. Love the crunch and the taste.

    Definitely a list not just one!

  14. Hands-down, my favorite comfort food is mac and cheese. I usually make it from scratch, but when I’m in need of comfort I usually don’t want to wait that long, so I just break out a box of Annie’s and eat it right out of the pot when it’s done.

  15. That sounds like a good story.

    My favorite comfort food is homemade macaroni and cheese. I rarely make it because it is such an artery clogger, but it always reminds me of my childhood and home.

    My dad was often traveling or working late, so mom would fix us ‘kids’ mac and cheese for an early dinner and then she would have dinner with him long after we were asleep in bed.

    I still love the cheesiness, and crunchy topping. Now that I’m thinking about it I will have to make some Saturday night.

  16. In all seasons, my favorite comfort food is homemade soup. It can be a very fancy recipe or just a “clean out the refrigerator” kind…doesn’t matter…just warms me all over…body and soul.

  17. Poppyseed chicken! It’s a yummy, not-very-good-for-you chicken casserole that my mom used to bring to church potluck suppers. It makes me think of my family and the church that I grew up in. I always serve it with sweet tea and southern style green beans on the side. It makes me feel like I’m back in small town Mississippi – life slows down and we can have a nice visit at the dinner table. Ooh, and my summer comfort food is lemon icebox pie. It’s really easy to make, but I still only make it once or twice a summer. It’s cool and refreshing, and reminds me of hot, humid summer days back home. Lemon icebox pie just looks pretty, too, and it makes me think of Southern women.

  18. My favorite food is Mac and Cheese. I remember making it with my Mom when I was young; and then being the Mom teaching my girls to make it. Now they make it on their own.

    Besides tasting so good it makes me feel connected to all the Moms before and after me that will share the joy of making it with their kids.

  19. Thanks for the book review. I am reading the advance copy of the sequel to Chocolat. Speaking of which, i turn to chocolate for comfort. The richer milkier sorts. My favorite is Milka. When the sweet smooth squares melt on my tongue, so do my worries, at least for a while. i am thrilled that Milka is now available in the States. I used to buy cartons and fill my suitcases on my trips home.

  20. I love apple pie! My grandma made the best pie from scratch and whenever I was sick, she’d send my grandpa over with a pie for me! Some kids got popsicles, I got pies. I still love apple pie but I can’t eat the frozen kind from the supermarket. Sometimes I get those but I’m always disappointed. It has to have the taste of homemade. My aunt’s pies are second best only to my grandma’s but she lives a state away. I guess I should start making them myself!

  21. Tea is my ultimate comfort but in food terms it’s pasta. We’re Italian and my grandmother always made pasta whenever something busy or bad happened (someone was in the hospital, etc) or as part of our holiday celebrations. To this day when life is hard, macaroni and butter takes me back to when I was 5 and Grandma could fix all.

  22. Book sounds really interesting. I’ll have to pick this one up!

  23. My favorite comfort food is beef stew…with either corn muffins or dumplings. I remember coming home from high school football games (I was in the color guard) and my mom making this stew to warm us up. As an adult, I always made it on cold, dreary days in winter and it’s one of my kids’ two favorite meals. (The other is chicken and rice, another comfort food from my childhood!)

    I loved the Friday Night Knitting Club, can’t wait to read her next book!

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