Food Memories: Comfort Food & Family Recipes

Growing up in a home where appreciation for food was big but the budget wasn’t, food traditions were important way to make sure we stuck to dishes where the preparation was well-understood. The chance of a mistake or waste was small.

Traditional holiday meals and recipes were set in stone—no surprise there—but other household traditions weren’t obvious to me until after I moved away.

For example, a non-holiday celebratory meal or party always called for breaded fried chicken (or sometimes breaded pork chops) and potato salad with celery and hard-boiled eggs. I don’t have an obvious reason because I grew up in PA and none of us ever lived in the South.

Both my grandmother and my mother made amazing fried chicken, in abundance we could eat for a few days. That chicken was equally delicious served hot or cold straight from the fridge.
The breading was satisfyingly bready, for lack of a better description, and tore away easily while staying intact. I could have eaten the stuff by itself without any chicken at all. I remember my grandmother air-drying roasterfuls of white bread to prepare the breading. Maybe that’s why.

Fried chicken is still a comfort food for me even though I don’t eat much meat. Sadly I did not inherit their talents in the art of frying.


I’ve never been a big fan of fried food. Just no taste for it. I see why it’s a comfort to many people both including and beyond the fat content. Like a number of foods, I can cook the heck out of stuff I’d rather not eat. I remember a pool party in the 80s when I was in my 20s–just getting my cooking mojo–cranking out steamer after steamer of crabs for 50 people. I’m just not a fan of crabs - too much work, too much mess, too little product.

Salads like potato, macaroni, and pasta certainly have appeal to me. I expect I’ll be making a bunch this week as refrigerator space allows. Not sure what we’re eating for 4th of July yet but by golly there will be salads.


I’m grinning that you thought of this recipe, @digga! Sometimes you think of something, and :::poof!::: it shows up soon after! Hopefully you’re able to come up with a reasonable facsimile of peanut/sesame noodles to use up the peanut butter. (And maybe you can post a pic of the noodles in the WFD thread along with some of Iceland’s beautiful countryside as an “extra” and let us travel virtually with you? :wink: )


I’m posting dispatches over on the Europe board. My home-cooked Icelandic meals are not worthy of WFD.


Made this today - double batch. Typed it in:

Grandma Linahan’s Macaroni Salad

This is not really an offshore recipe. Offshore just dump some cooked elbow macaroni into a bowl and squeeze a bunch of mayo and some mustard in until it looks and tastes acceptable. Add pepper and serve. On the other hand, at the dock or anchor and certainly for a potluck this is a winner. This serves 6 to 8; or just me – I can eat it all in a day.

I don’t know who Grandma Linahan is. I got the recipe back in the early 80s from a magazine.

2/3 cup minced bell pepper
1/3 cup minced onion
2/3 cup minced celery
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
½ cup mayonnaise
½ tsp powdered mustard or about 1 Tbsp of prepared Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
½ cup milk
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp butter, melted
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions

Prep the veg while cooking the macaroni. Drain the macaroni but don’t rinse. In a bowl big enough for everything blend the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Slowly blend in the milk. Stir in the butter. Toss the macaroni with the dressing and add the veg. Toss thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least three hours. Keeps at least five days unless I’m nearby with a fork. The scallions are for garnish on top when you serve.

Credit: Good Housekeeping (I think) and me


I think I just went up a dress size reading this. I could eat a whole bowl of macaroni salad by myself.

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