Momma Cooks Comfort Food

Reader Contribution by Caleb Regan and Managing Editor
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Here at GRIT, we have a department called Comfort Foods. I’ve always kind of distrusted the label of a comfort food, since to me food is more about sustenance than comfort. But after heading home for the weekend, a fried chicken dinner prepared by my mom reminded me of how comfort foods feel and what they’re all about. And with any luck, someone out there will have a venison chili recipe that will add one more recipe to my arsenal of comfort foods.

But what is a comfort food to me? It has little to do with the actual filling of my stomach. Rather, I think of comfort foods as those dishes we eat that take us back to a time and place, much like my favorite songs that always remind me of the same things.

From a young age, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, homegrown corn, dinner rolls and milk – out of a Mason jar most times – have been a staple to our family’s diet. It brings a vivid picture to mind of sitting at our old dinner table in the old farmhouse, no television or radio on, just a family of five gathered around the largest meal of the day; us boys eager to empty our plates and start wrestling or whatever was the plan for entertainment that particular night, antagonizing something for sure. The smell reminds me of sitting hungrily with the gravy steaming and smell of the chicken drifting, us unable to fill our plates until the prayer was said.

That is comfort; more from the memories and ease that those memories put us at rather than how stuffed we get – although we had that meal on Saturday, and I was still feeling full Monday. To this day, fried chicken, steak (grilled or chicken fried), meatloaf, my mom’s taco recipe and even tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches (we still call them toasted cheese, for some reason) all conjure up images of that little room with five place settings. Those things take me back to my childhood in the same way that spaghetti and Yellow Tail Shiraz take me back to the living room of a house I shared with my brother Josh while in college. It was a coffee table with two settings, rather than a dinner table with five.

What about you? What foods take your memories back to certain places and times?

Also, I’m in search of new deer chili recipes. I have a rather large supply of ground venison that needs cooked up, and I’m bound and determined to find a recipe I can stick with. First of all, I’m going to try Southern Venison Chili, a recipe I got from that seems more spicy than other deer chili recipes I’ve tried. I’ll let you know how it works out, and if anyone has a favorite, I’d love to give it a try.

Caleb Reganand his wife, Gwen, live in rural Douglas County, Kansas, where they enjoy hunting, fishing, and raising and growing as much of their own food as they can. Caleb can’t imagine a better scenario than getting to work on a rural lifestyle magazine as a profession, and then living that same lifestyle right in the heartland of America. Connect with him on .

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