Food + Wine

Comfort me with this

When it comes to comfort, a lot of things come to mind- hugs, casseroles, fireplaces, socks… It’s different for everyone, but whatever it is that makes you feel warm and cozy and at complete, oozy ease… That’s Comfort. And that’s the ultimate goal in life, yes?  Sure, we want to work hard and play hard and do all sorts of proactive and responsible grownup stuff, but what it all boils down to in life is this:

What truly makes us comfortable?

Think about that.  We can like things.  We can love things.  But if we’re not comfortable in it, we’re probably not gonna come back to it.

So let’s do more shit that makes us come back, yes?

I am one of those rare birds who are actually quite Comfortable in most situations where some may feel un-Comfortable.  Big crowds don’t make me nervous, high heels make me feel rad (and tall), being alone or traveling by myself makes me feel free… all those things, even when the feeling of exhilaration or excitement or just plain weird comes through, I am still Comfortable in those feelings.  Now, whether or not this means I’m just Comfortable being uncomfortable, who knows. But getting to grow older and becoming more and more Comfortable in myself, through each and every new experience, has been a wonderful thing.  I’ve developed new friendships with old friends, and new friendships with new friends.  And the beauty of developing new friendships as an adult is that you get to see how many different types of people there truly are in the world.  And the hope is that when you meet these people, they’re able to teach you something about yourself, and vice versa.

One of the greatest growth periods in my adult life has come in the past year.  I have had people who have been in my life for many, many years leave and cause me to re-think a hell of lot about myself… and then I have had new and different people come in it.  Both situations have allowed me to grow and evolve and discover a better me.  A more Comfortable me.  Because even when things may begin to feel uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean it’s bad.  It only means you’re growing.

And we are never to old to grow.

One thing I will always be Comfortable doing is cooking for the people I love.  Having people I care about come into my home, and sit in my space, and eat something I’ve prepared for them, and drink the wine I’ve poured for them, and watch them cozy up in front of me, is truly one of my favorite things in all the world.  Being able to be Comfortable in my personal space with the people I am Comfortable with, just makes me feel so very at peace.

And what better thing to serve someone in your home than something we all have grown up eating and loving?  I do believe they call that Comfort food, yes? 😉  And didn’t we all grow up with Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese?  Whether it’s because it’s childlike and familiar, or simply warm and soothing, that meal is just so very comforting.

I served it last night for a little, impromptu dinner party and I am still riding on the high from it all. I had the tomato soup cooking all day, the bread was homemade and freshly baked, the mozzarella fresh (and a bonus Triple Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting impatiently waiting on the counter.)  The windows were open with the breeze coming through, as we sat around the dining room table and ate by the light of the twinkly strands above the curtains dancing in the wind.  There was wine and conversation and laughs. And then we ate chocolate cake on the floor in the den, which led into deep Comfort couch conversations.

It was one of those evenings that, even though it was so very simple on paper… was filled with an unseen amount of magic.

I went to bed late, and after having been up since 3:30 that morning and the wine lulling me to sweet slumber, once I hit the pillow, I didn’t move until 5 a.m.  Then I hopped out to start flipping pancakes for the babes before school.  Only, the stove power was out, as was the coffee maker.  Immediately recognizing that both are on the same circuit, I searched for the outlet with the appropriate breaker. In the dark.  Because sometimes our kitchen light gets bitchy and won’t cooperate.  And whoever built this kitchen was scared as hell, because we have 9 breaker outlets.  Quickly making a life or death decision, I moved the coffee maker to a working outlet, and figured the kids could just have cold cereal today.


So, turns out I’m not very Comfortable with the prospect of no coffee…

(Also, I found the breaker and we were in pancake business in no time 😉 )

This recipe for Tomato Soup is so easy and I made it in the slow cooker!  So it was working while I was working all day and I didn’t even have to touch it.  There’s no dicing or sautéing involved- it’s a lovely ‘dump and heat’ kind of soup, but still made from scratch!  And I served it with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches made out of Goat Mozzarella and my Italian bread recipe using rye and whole wheat flour instead (I’ll post the recipe for that soon!)  And, here’s the grilled cheese technique I swear by, but used olive oil instead of the butter for these.

All things came out delicious with just the perfect amount of Comfort.  And as I type this, I am back on the couch with the windows open, glass of Super Tuscan at my side, and the smell of someone’s nearby fire is making me gitty with sweet excitement.

This right here was the perfect meal on the perfect evening.  And I hope my sharing it with you brings you the same feeling.


serves about 8

In a slow cooker, combine the following…

  • 2 (28 oz) cans whole, peeled tomatoes (please, if you can, buy the best quality…if you can afford the tomatoes from San Marzano (not San Marzano style), it makes a huge difference)
  • 2 cups chicken broth/stock (I usually have homemade in the freezer, but when I don’t I prefer the flavor of Swanson)
  • 2 cups whole milk/half&half/cream  (I used whole goat milk because lactose and I don’t always get along)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and broken in half
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled 
  • 2 TB unsalted butter
  • up to 1 TB + 2 tsp kosher salt (depending on the tomatoes you use, and their acidity/quality you may need to adjust this (also the stock/broth you use) so maybe start slow and add/taste/add)
  • up to 3 TB light brown sugar (same as above)
  • large handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Parmigiano Reggiano rind

Turn slow cooker on low and cook for 8 hours, or on high for 4.

Remove aromatics and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

Serve with a drizzle of some good quality extra virgin olive oil and some fresh basil.

And with the Grilled Cheese of your choice!


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