There are many ways to respond to our current political moment—phoning your representatives, protesting at airports, screaming into a pillow. But sometimes, we just need to decompress and eat comfort food. Here, four Lilith contributors share what they cook up when in need of emotional sustenance. Have your own recipe for solace? Tell us about it at email@example.com.
When I had my first inklings on election night of what the outcome was going to be, I abandoned the TV in my living room for my kitchen and made myself pancakes to sustain me to watch through to the bitter end.
Here’s the current iteration of my Whole Grain Pancakes.
1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
⅓ cup coarse cornmeal
¼ cup oatmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
a sprinkling of nutmeg
1 or 2 mashed bananas
½ cup oil
1 ¾ cups water
As needed, I make three pancakes on a hot seasoned griddle, tuck a bit of butter on top of each, pour on a spoonful of real maple syrup, slice the stack like a pie into eight, and fork the triangles off one by one, using the middle layer pieces to mop up any maple syrup that might have dripped onto the plate. The batter lasts me, covered in the fridge, for a few days, needing only a little stirring up, and the occasional addition of a little water if it has gotten too thick.
One morning I couldn’t find the batter anywhere. Turned out that after I’d emptied the leftover batter into a small pitcher the day before, I’d accidentally stored it in a closet instead of the fridge. I was a little worried about myself. (The torrent of political news coming at all of us obviously has me pretty distracted.) And I was so disappointed. I couldn’t bear the thought of not having pancakes, so I made three anyway. But by the time they were cooked I came to my senses and for the sake of my physical–if not mental–health, tossed them in the trash. I had some carrot soup and toast for breakfast instead.
When I find myself in the Slough of Despond, I turn to the comfort food of childhood and evenings spent playing Scrabble with my mother. She would have rye whiskey (Seagram’s, of course, since we were in Canada after all) and I would drink Postum with milk and sugar—a beverage that, I’m told, is really an acquired taste. Accompanying our drinks would always be my mother’s unsurpassed komish bread (a variant of mandelbread, full of roasted almonds and sprinkled liberally with cinnamon and sugar.) In my grown-up years, I no longer need the Scrabble for solace and distraction. But I’m drinking Postum again this season, along with the komish bread.
Zora Weidman’s Komish Bread
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
¾ cup roasted almonds, chopped coarsely
3-3 ½ cups flour, sifted
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
Mix and pat into flattened logs (an elliptical shape on top, not a semi-circle) on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake 25-30 minutes at 350°.
Remove from cookie sheet with spatula, cut into slices approx. ½ inch thick.
Sprinkle both cut sides of each slice with cinnamon sugar.
Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they do not get brown. (You can also return them for longer to the still-warm oven for a longer period so that they dry.)
—Susan Weidman Schneider
This recipe was contributed by Rebbetzin Ruth Waxman to the Temple Israel Sisterhood Cookbook (Great Neck NY), circa 1959. My mother made it often on Friday nights, and her mother, my grandma Sarah Braun, loved it so much that she plagiarized it for a recipe book that her Hadassah chapter published.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
2 lbs chopped meat
1 tbsp mustard
(adding 4 tbsp matzoh meal, my mother wrote in the margin of the gravy-splattered page, “gave excellent consistency”)
Mix together and make small balls. Drop into boiling stock made of:
2 onions, minced and browned
1 can cranberry sauce
1 can Rokeach Tomato Mushroom sauce
1 bay leaf
Cook for one hour. It’s better the next day.
—Alice Sparberg Alexiou
A freshly made batch of brownies doesn’t do it for me.
For deep despair: Gin on the rocks
For everything else: Baked Potatoes Slathered in Butter.