When temperatures begin to drop outside, the yen for hearty home-cooked meals increases on the inside. And every New Englander knows there's nothing better than the smell of home cooking wafting from the kitchen on a brisk New England winter day.
Although many family recipes have been around for generations, the term "comfort food" is a relatively new concept - not making its appearance in Webster's Dictionary until the early 1970's. Everyone has a unique definition of comfort food, usually influenced by childhood dining experiences, personal events and cultural influences. It could be that bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup mom always gave you when you were sick as a child or it could be French Toast for breakfast on Saturday mornings. No matter the ingredients, all comfort foods evoke feelings of warmth, safety and well-being - harkening back to childhood memories of mom or grandma in the kitchen.
One traditional New England dish, Baked Beans and Brown Bread, is found in many homes, while others prefer such comforting flavors as Lasagna, homemade Macaroni and Cheese or Mashed Potatoes. Two of my personal favorites are New England Clam Chowder and Pumpkin Pie.
Most comfort foods are indulgent, include high carbohydrate and fat levels or high sugar levels, and are inexpensive, uncomplicated and easy to prepare. Whether it's a steaming mug of Hot Cocoa and a bowl of Hunter's Stew after a day on the slopes or a bowl of homemade Chocolate Ice Cream before bed, there are countless dishes that can bring a sense of nostalgia to anyone wanting to take a break from their hectic day.
Anyone in the mood for Chocolate Chip Cookies and a glass of milk?
Check out some of the other comfort food recipes recommended by NewEnglandRecipes.com: