Tag Archives: kosher

My Comfort Food of the Fifties

Pineapple & Cottage Cheese

Pineapple Chunks and Cottage Cheese – Lots of Juice

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley during the 1950s, a time many have suggested was idyllic here in the U.S. While we know that’s far from the truth, it was a time when we didn’t lock our doors and kids were allowed to stay out past dark; at least in Panorama City, where I lived. I traveled between our house and my friend’s house around the other side of our block not by sidewalk, but by cinder block fences and back yards.

It was, indeed, a much simpler time; if not in general, at least for a kid. Or so it seems to me. I don’t recall parents being worried about pedophiles or kidnapping or one of dozens of concerns expressed by today’s parents. In fact, most adults I came into contact with wanted the kids out of the house; the more frequently and longer the better. Kids were, after all, better seen than heard and the best way to keep them quiet was to send them away, preferably outdoors.

I got to thinking about this because yesterday I treated myself to one of my oldest comfort foods, which also reminded me of just how simple some things were. My comfort food – this particular one, that is – consists of two ingredients: Pineapple chunks and cottage cheese. I did change them a wee tad, due to the needs of my diet and the availability of items that didn’t exist back then. I used pineapple in its own juice instead of heavy syrup and low-fat cottage cheese instead of plain old whole milk cottage cheese.


Franco-American Spaghetti

Seasoned ground beef mixed with this stuff made for one happy boy back then.

I was in heaven and made three substantial servings out of the can of pineapple and the tub of cottage cheese I purchased. It’s gone, and I’m sated. I find myself now thinking about another comfort food – also pedestrian by current standards – that I enjoyed as I was growing up back then. My mother used to brown a pound of ground meat, seasoning it with lots of garlic powder, then mix it in with a can of Franco-American Spaghetti. I introduced my oldest daughter to it a while back and, in the process, managed to raise my blood pressure dramatically due to the very high salt content of the spaghetti.

Regardless, she loved it and I’ll probably do it again . . . I just won’t eat so much, or so I’m telling myself.

I have other favorite comfort foods – good, garlicky kosher pickles for one, but these two are biggies, and they really do bring me a modicum of comfort; perhaps especially because I can’t indulge in them very often any longer. I don’t mean to sound like a marketer here, fishing for comments, but I’d be interested in hearing about other people’s favorite comfort foods. I’m sure there’s a huge variety.

One Way To Impress Your Colleagues

Kimchi Ingredients

Basic Kimchi Ingredients

I have been a lover of Asian food for most of my adult life. Among my favorites are Korean pickled vegetables, called Kimchi. Most people are only familiar with the one you’ll find in the supermarket, which is made of (generally) Napa cabbage and contains red chili pepper flakes. However, there are hundreds of varieties. There was until recently a pretty good Korean BBQ restaurant nearby that served a variety consisting of potatoes and sesame oil that I could make a meal out of. This, of course, is not a traditional variety of Kimchi but, being raised as a meat and potatoes kind of a guy, I found it immensely enjoyable.

Our Personal Stash

A good friend of ours has been making us one-gallon jars of Kimchi for many years. Usually it consists of quartered cabbage heads, vinegar, salt, dill, garlic, and yellow peppers, plus a few other spices. My wife, who is Sansei (3rd generation American-born Japanese), calls it Koko (similar to Tsukemono) and we enjoy it shredded with many a meal. Every once in a while our friend tries something else. For instance, just the other day she gave me a jar of pickled sweet onion. We have yet to taste them so the jury’s out on whether we’ll be happy with the result.

A while ago – like maybe ten years (my, how time flies!) – she made a batch of Kimchi out of Daikon radish, dill, and garlic. Now another of the kinds of pickles I’m really fond of, and consider comfort food, is kosher pickles; the more garlic, the better. She had cut up the Daikon into spears about the size of a quarter of a pickling cucumber and they were magnificent. To my taste buds, these pieces of pickled radish tasted like the best kosher pickles I had ever had and I couldn’t get enough of them.

At the time I took my lunch to work every day at ate at my desk. I brought some of these pickles with me one day and was sharing them with a colleague and friend who sat on the other side of our 1/2 height cubicle wall. We were marveling at the fullness of the flavor when I noticed people standing up at their desks and looking around. The term used back then for what I witnessed was “prairie dogging” and I soon heard someone say “what’s that smell?” I looked at my friend and, frankly, we didn’t smell anything. We were too busy enjoying the incredible, garlicky flavor of this wonderful condiment. In retrospect, I think we were insulated from the truth because we were so enamored of the flavor, and we chose to ignore what others were agitated about lest we had to stop eating.

Not Again?

The following day, I brought a container of pickled Daikon again and was sharing them over the wall as I had the day before. Sure enough, as the aroma spread out I noted a “wave” of people standing up to try and figure out what was going on. This time I called my wife at her place of work. “You know that Daikon Kimchi Chea Yon made for us?”, I asked. She replied in the affirmative. “Have you ever brought it to work?” Her reply, “Hell No! That stuff stinks!!”

I later discovered someone had actually called Environmental to suggest something had died in the ducting and request an inspection. I know I ultimately explained what the cause of the stink was, but I don’t think it was until much later. Chea Yon has never again made that particular kind of Kimchi for us, but I would kill to relive the experience.

Photo Courtesy of Korea.net

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