Comfort Foods To Cure What Ails You!
I don’t get sick too often…I think I get exposed to enough of whatever’s going around when I’m at work at the hospital that my immune system has built up a pretty good resistance! Thank goodness, because on the rare occasion that I do get sick, I’m not a very patient patient! This past week however, what I thought was just a little hay fever, ended up turning into a head cold! Ugh! (Even cold prevention lozenges didn’t do too much to ease my desire to extricate my head for a few days!) In the achy haze of my stuffed up sinuses, I found myself in dire need of the comforting effects of my mom’s baked custard and French bread cinnamon toast; her take on chicken soup for the soul, or whatever might be ailing you.
I don’t pretend to understand the psychology behind the relationship we have with certain foods and how it coincides with our emotional wellbeing, I just know there seems to be a direct correlation! Bake custard is my “warm fuzzy” in life when I’m not feeling up to par! My mom’s baked custard was also a good way to offset the nasty taste of the medicine we took back then (There were no fancy flavored cough syrups in those days!) I’ve carried on some of the same comfort food traditions with my own family. I can still remember when my two younger children had such bad cases of chicken pox that sores even lined their throats–warm custard was all they seemed to want to eat.
My mom wasn’t a fancy cook, she just made good, simple recipes, most of which were her version of ones she got from her favorite cookbook, including her baked custard. I was given a cookbook of my own when I got married. (Sort of a funny, coincidental footnote–on one of my first dates with my husband, he made a beautiful dinner for me and this very same cookbook was opened on his kitchen counter when we arrived at his apartment! Yes, it was a very “voodoo” moment! Ha!)
Just like my mom’s cookbook, mine is filled with recipe copies from friends, as well as some clipped from newspapers and magazines that I need to copy onto cards and organize. Maybe I subconsciously do this to somehow emulate my mom–now there’s psychology for you! I know, not really a good excuse–please tell me that some of you have some overflowing cook books that you are going to organize some day!
I love that the recipe for this baked custard is filed under the title of “Desserts”! One recipe makes enough for four nice servings. I used to double the recipe for my family of five and baked the custard in a covered, medium-sized casserole dish.
3 eggs slightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Combine eggs, sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Whisk milk gradually in to egg mixture. Add vanilla. Grind fresh nutmeg on top before baking. Fill 4-6 medium-sized custard bowls (ramekins work well too) then set in a shallow baking dish filled with hot water about one inch deep. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Bake the large casserole dish for 60 minutes. The custard should be slightly brown around the edges. My mom taught me that a good way to make sure the custard is done, but not curdled from baking too long, is to very gently move the dishes back and forth and if the custard moves just slightly in the center, it’s done. You can also insert a knife about halfway between the middle and edge of the custard, when the knife comes out clean, the custard is done. It’s so good!
I just use a glass baking dish filled with some water. I think the reason behind baking the custard this way is to keep the milk from curdling or the custard from shrinking away from the edges because it gets baked too fast. I do cheesecakes this way too.
Wallah!! This also makes a good supper for a lazy night when you just want something light! My mom made bread quite often, but she always bought fresh French bread at the store and used it to make cinnamon toast. Of course, I think it’s the perfect thing to go along with the baked custard!
Also, since my husband and I are in this “empty nest” stage of life, we’re finding that you can become a bit complacent when making dinner. We decided it was a good idea to purchase a few new place settings that are just for the two of us! We switch it up and mix and match the dishes sometimes, and even add flowers on occasion…whatever works to add a personal touch and make meal time a little more special as we sit down together!
What are some “comfort foods” that kindle special memories for you! I’d love you to share any!