At some point in October, it hits me; I’m sick of making dinners on the grill.
There’s something about shorter days and that defining nip in the air that makes us yearn for comfort foods. This year, I hit the wall earlier than usual and, a couple of weeks ago, made a big pot of chicken soup. Chili won’t be far behind. And this weekend, Quick Pigs, the lazy person’s stuffed cabbage casserole, is on the menu.
As good as grilled meats smell coming off that Weber, nothing’s better than the warm scents of slowly baked comfort foods wafting from the oven.
What recipes do you turn to when nature turns to autumn?
Dorothy Sikorski, Highland: When I was a young teen, my mom taught me to make her special meatloaf. She said the trick was to make fresh breadcrumbs and then soak them in milk before adding them to the meat mixture. Don’t mix it with a spoon; go in with your hands, my mom said. And then, before putting it in the oven, there was the squiggle of ketchup that went on top. My mom died suddenly not long after that so making and smelling meatloaf always brings back that very fond memory for me.
Carly Schumann, Schererville: Warm chocolate chip cookies. When my brothers and I were little, school was just a block away so we walked. On stormy days, often we would come home shivering, only to walk in the back door to the smell of our mom’s freshly baked cookies. My kids don’t walk and I don’t often make cookies from scratch but every once in a while, I get that refrigerated dough so our kitchen will smell delicious — a cold weather treat.
Chuck Foster, Dyer: Comfort food for me is breakfast foods for dinner. My mother used to call it upside down nights. She made the best pancakes along with a big pitcher of warm syrup and real butter. Sometimes we would have fried ham or a platter of bacon to go with it. With a tall glass of cold milk … it doesn’t get more comforting than that!
Helen Barrons, Merrillville: Usually the first oven-baked dinner I make after we put away the grill is old-fashioned pot roast, the kind that you cook for hours. Throw in some chopped potatoes and carrots and let it cook away. It even makes a nice, rich gravy. Add some hot rolls and you have a really comforting meal.
Ryan Moody, Schererville: Until I met my wife, I didn’t know you could make macaroni and cheese that didn’t come out of the little blue box. When I first tasted her homemade mac and cheese, I was hooked. For me, that clinched the deal on who I would marry.
Erin Tokarz, Crown Point: Comfort food to me is a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of tomato soup. That’s what mom would make when I came in after playing in the snow. It always warmed me up inside and tasted better than anything else I could imagine.