Jessie: Enjoying the post holiday season and all the promise of a new year!
I have corresponded with Liz Penney off and on for some time through social media, email and as a frequent commenter on this blog. But, as so often happens in our world today, hadn’t met her in person until she surprised the Wickeds by attending an event we appeared at White Birch Books in North Conway, NH. It was lovely to get to do so and is at least as nice to have her here as a guest today! Take it away, Liz!
Cozy Winter Comfort Food
Here we are in the heart of winter, with temps dipping into single digits while snow drifts deep and wind whistles around the eaves.
At least that’s the weather where I live, in the heart of the White Mountains, in close proximity to some of the world’s worst weather. On top of nearby Mount Washington, a wind record of 234 miles per hour was set back in 1934. Even on a clear, calm day, which is rare, conditions on this tallest peak in the Northeast can kill an unwary hiker. Yikes.
In my fictional world of Blueberry Cove, Maine, winter has also set in, with ice creeping across the harbor and snow frosting the pine trees along the shore. It’s the perfect time of year to make a big pot of something comforting and curl up with a book by the fire while it simmers.
Comfort food is a key ingredient in the Apron Shop Mysteries, no matter the time of year. In my view, delicious food and drink and a lot of it, is one of the best aspects of the genre. What fun would a cozy mystery be if the characters were on a diet or were picky eaters?
For my book menus, I’m drawing inspiration from a classic cookbook, Cooking Down Eastby Marjorie Standish, published in 1969. Margery gathered this collection from cooks all around Maine for her column in the Maine Sunday Telegram. As a result, she preserved Maine food traditions and culture dated back generations. Along with classic seafood dishes, baked beans, and chowders, she included recipes for fiddlehead ferns, dandelion greens, venison, and pheasant.
Many dishes she features are thrifty, hearty meals that don’t cost a lot to prepare. For this post, I prepared one of those, a corn chowder inspired by Marjorie’s recipe. I made a few changes to suit my taste and you can do the same.
3 slices bacon
½ cup diced onion
¼ cup diced red pepper
2 cups diced potato
1 14.75 oz. can of creamed corn
1 teas. salt
¼ teas. pepper
2 cups water
2 cups milk (I used whole)
Dice the bacon into small pieces and cook slowly in a large heavy pan. Once the bacon is browned, remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to drain.
Sauté the onion and pepper in the bacon fat until softened. Add the potato, two cups of water, and salt and pepper and cover. Simmer until potatoes are soft.
Add the creamed corn, milk, and bacon pieces and heat slowly over low heat. Serve in a big bowl accompanied with hot bread and butter. Tastes even better the next day.
Readers, now it’s your turn. Tell us about your favorite winter comfort food. If it’s a family favorite or a traditional dish, even better.
About Elizabeth Penney
Elizabeth lives in New Hampshire’s frozen north where she pens mysteries and tries to grow things. She’s the author of the Apron Shop Series, with book one, Hems and Homicide, available now, as well as numerous titles for Annie’s Fiction and Guideposts.