Monday, November 03, 2008

Like MOM used to make. . .


My original post idea for today will have to wait until another time-- it's about being a lover, not a mother. . . the old dilemma of what to do when you seem to be slipping into the role of MOTHER with your husband.

Let's face it, all men want their wives to be some part "mother." When hubby is sick, when he's feeling vulnerable, when he needs unconditional support, he often turns to WIFE for a mothering flashback. And a big part of that is providing the comfort they loved as a child.

Enter: cooking. Those favorite foods and recipes that "MOM" used to make and "WIFEY" needs to learn in order to make and keep HUBBY HAPPY. Or at least comforted.

My story: Early in our marriage, my husband rhaposidized about an "apple kucken" (German version of apple coffee cake) his mom used to make. I found a recipe or two and tried them out, with predictable results. It was good, but not quite what MOM used to make. Now my husband was a rational and reasonable man. He didn't do this to yank my chain, he truly remembered this apple kuchen as something special and life-sustaining. So I kept trying.

This went on for some time. But since we usually visited Wisconsin in the summer I never thought to ask his mom for this magical recipe. You probably already know the ending: I finally asked one Christmas about the great apple kuchen recipe and she looked at me blankly and said she didn't think she'd ever made one. I described it to her and she frowned thoughtfully. Probably something she just threw together one night-- you know-- "out of scraps she had on hand."

So all that time I'd been competing with a memory. sigh. I should have known better.

Comfort Food is in a class by itself. It's about emotion, not rational processes. Thus, the inclusion of things like boxed macaroni and cheese, oreo cookies, tapioca pudding, and oatmeal "lefse." (Norwegian tortillas, for you non Scandanavians.) It doesn't have to make sense or even be authentic. It just has to make you feel good.

So here is the best Apple Kuchen recipe I've located to date. It has that "thrown together" feel that makes it both authentic and easy. And it tastes really good. Even if it's NOT the one MOM used to make.

APPLE KUCHEN

Kuchen Dough:
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. shortening
1 egg (in measuring cup + enough milk to measure 1 c.)
5 apples

Mix dry ingredients - add shortening. Then add egg and milk mixture. Blend and spread dough on jelly roll pan. Peel, slice and arrange apples on dough.

Topping:
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. butter

Mix and spread evenly over apples. Bake 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

I can't guarantee that it'll look like the one in the photo, but it'll be close!

So what about you? What comfort foods and special recipes have you been required to add to the repertoire? What's your "go to" menu when the hubby or someone else in the family is feeling down?

What are your own favorite comfort foods?

19 comments:

Christie said...

Apple Kuchen was the dessert of the day (every day) in the dorm dining hall when I was in college. I loathed it. (I lost weight as a freshman, I was a pretty picky eater at that time.) I think it was the particular recipe they used, though, because yours looks good. And as a matter of fact, I have everything on hand to make "Slab Apple Pie" to take to a party tomorrow night. I think it might be close to the same thing.

Comfort food for me is mac and cheese (from scratch, hate the stuff in a box) and home-baked chocolate chip cookies. Also I love pumpkin pie and peach pie.

Keri Ford said...

I'm such a terrible wife. I don't think I make anything the MIL does! My family and his family have completely different cooking styles. And to top it off, the things I LOVE that she makes, he doesn't like.

I guess the only thing I make that came from her that he eats is the snow ice cream I mentioned a few days ago on Michelle's blog.

Betina Krahn said...

Apple kuchen, I have learned, is a catch-all category for a lot of things people do with dough and apples. Some of it's truly horrifying. . . like your college experience, Christie. I'd probably hate it if I had to look at that stuff, too!

And Keri, you're not a terrible wife. You weren't anything like his MOM and he married you anyway--which means there are things about you he PREFERS to what his mom does.

This is a lesson for all of us. While men may like certain things their mothers do and cook, there are other things they do (and cook) that drive men crazy-- and not in a good way. The trick is to appropriate the things they love and stay away from the things their moms do that make them crazy. DUH.

Michele Hauf said...

Just made my favorite comfort food last weekend for the daughter's b-day (it's her favorite too)—dumplings!
Big thick fist-sized fluffy dumplings drowning in beef gravy made from a roast. You have to eat two or three, then they expand in your stomach and you feel miserable, but man it was worth it! I do believe my Scandinavian ancestors must have made them in the winter for when their menfolk went out to work in the icy winters. A couple dumplings should carry them through the day. Heh.

The recipe was handed down from my grandma, and I was lucky enough to have my dumplings 'grandma approved' before she died.

I was just thinking about home cooking yesterday. Wondering about the fabulous home cooked meals we make, recipes that were handed down from our mothers and grandmothers. I figure it'll be less than a generation before all those recipes get lost and home cooking becomes something completely different. No more home made gravy and big meals, because a lot of mothers just don't have time to pass those recipes along to their daughters nowadays, nor do the daughters have the patience to be taught.
I don't think my daughter knows how to make gravy. Hmm...I think I have some work to do.

Cindy Gerard said...

I am absolutely going to try the recipe, Betina. I love anything with apples in it.
Our comfort dinner is Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Everything from the smell of it baking to the brown sugar glaze I lavish on the loaf and the melting butter pooling in the mound of potatoes. Yum yum.

Kylie said...

I laughed when I read about you trying to compete with his mom's dessert that she doesn't even remember making! When we first got married, nothing I made was like the way his mom made it. Shrug. I was a beginner cook, so of course it wouldn't be. But one time I really thought I outdid myself and made a cherry pie from scratch. My dh wouldn't eat it because it was 'out of season'. Huh???? Needless to say, he didn't get pie for years after that!

It was doubly sweet when there finally came a time when some of my cooking became his favorites. To this day any time he orders lasagna or manicotti at a restaurant he always swears mine is better. And a favorite of my family's is my penne pasta with grilled chicken in garlic butter. Yum!

Keri Ford said...

YAY! I'm not terrible! I told the husband a long time ago, I don't even think we were married, that I wasn't his mom so he wouldn't be confused on expectations.

Dumplin's in roast and beef gravy??? I've never heard of that! I've always done mine in chicken! I will have to try that out.

How do you make your dumplin's, Michele?

Betina Krahn said...

Michele-- dumplings! I've had a few in my day, but usually with chicken, not beef. How wonderful that you got grandma's approval on them!

Cindy-- meatloaf is such a fabulous food, when done right. (Whatever that means!) My mom didn't do a very good one, but my grandma's was legendary. Unfortunately, I still haven't been able to reproduce it. You put a brown sugar glaze on yours? YUM. Can I come over for dinner tonight

And Kylie, the story is so true that it sound almost made up! And YES-- isn't it terrific when your family finds those dishes you do that nothing else can compare to? For my family there are several things. . . lasagna, chicken divan, and the occasional fruit braid coffee cake. I also make a breakfast casserole that the entire family loves, but the original recipe wasn't my creation; I just made it faithfully and it was a hit.

Cindy Gerard said...

Betina - the glaze is a mix of ketchup and brown sugar and dry mustard. Just mix in a sauce pan and cook until thick the pour over the hot meatloaf. It's soooo good.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Ah, kuchen. I'd never heard of it until I moved to ND. Yummy. I'm going to try it! Clyde's favorite dessert is apple pie, so he'll like this one.

One meal I tried to approximate and never got right was venison. Nobody made it like Clyde's oldest brother, and that record still stands. I tried, but I had no experience cooking game. None. And since there was no recipe, I've never known for sure what the secret was. It was different every time I asked. And vague. I suspect the answer lies somewhere in a dead pan.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Oh, and it's not called visison in Indian Country. It's deer meat.

Helen Brenna said...

Oh, Betina, that looks nummy. I'll have to try that. We have an apple tree in our back yard and I'm always looking for good apple recipes.

My dh's family is Norwegian/Danish too, and I'm not the least bit Scandihuvian, so my cooking/baking has never been like Mom's.

I've never even tried making lefse or crumcake. And herring? Ew.

We've taken over his family's traditional xmas dinner of pork roast and fried apples and that's hit or miss for me. One year, the roast is perfect and the next it's dry as dust.

I've made my MIL's beef stroganoff and that's turned out good, but it's been a while, now that I think about it.

Something I make for the dh that I'm not crazy about is a pot roast in the crock pot. I can take it or leave it, but it was his fav as a kid and the last time I made it, he said it was the best he'd ever had.

The "go to" menu for the rest of the family? Beef tenderloin steaks. Everyone loves 'em except for me.

Susan Kay Law said...

Betina, do you cut in the shortening, like pie dough?

My kids love apple desserts. And I have a good pile of lovely apples from the fruit CSA.

Susie

Betina Krahn said...

Thanks Cindy-- I'll try that! sounds wonderful!

Kathy, I know how you feel-- I can't do venison or fish very well. Once my eldest brought home a 22 pound king salmon from Lake Michigan and I had no clue what to make with it. We had a lot of grilled and broiled salmon and the boys got a little sick of it. How I wish I had some of it now!

Helen, the stroganoff sounds wonderful! One of the dear MIL's favorites was a "baked dish" that varied a little every time she made it. But the husband and boys LOVED it. So I made it for them at least once a month-- except in summer.

Yes, Susie, you cut in the shortening (or margarine). sometimes I use a 10 inch springform pan, like the one in the photo. But then, it comes out thicker.

Another favorite of the family was TV Snacks. You know, the fudge-like cookies with oatmeal, peanut butter, and chocolate. Well after he was married, my eldest called for the recipe. . . wanted to make them for a party they were attending. Nice to know he has such high-brow tastes! LOL!

Jane said...

I can't wait to try the recipe for Apple Kuchen. One of my favorite comfort foods is chow mein. I don't know how to make it, but my dad usually makes it for me.

Betina Krahn said...

Jane, you lucky duck. . . to have a dad who is willing to make beloved food for you! Does he cook a lot? Did he teach you how to cook Chow Mein, too?

Debra Dixon said...

Hey! Blogger is being evil again.

Where's my comment about cobbler?

The short version is I love cobbler and mostly because of the dough/crust.

Betina Krahn said...

Deb, what's not to love, right?

Interesting that you interpret this recipe as a sort of cobbler. "Up north" it's coffeecake and in Wisconsin it's "kuchen." Whatever.

You put fresh fruit on it or in it, and I'm sooooo there.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Wow, it looks delicioius! Thanks for the recipe. Perfect timing for apple season. But you probably planned that. ;-D