Monday, October 10, 2011

Comfort Food

My niece has a stuffed bunny that she takes with her everywhere. The fur is matted and it has a funky smell, but she doesn't care. It is her comfort. Of course, she is 15 months old and can get away with carrying around a germ-infested piece of cloth and calling it a lovey. That doesn't fly when we get older and so we find other comfort sources - and for me those are books and food.

Not just any books will work though and not just any food either.

Let's talk about the books first.

So, I'm a worrier. Some of my worries are insane (there is a killer hiding behind my shower curtain), some of them are disasters that are more possible but still not probable (my children will suffer some debilitating injury on the playground), and other are just everyday concerns (laundry, dishes, dinner ideas - oh my!).

Add to this the ups and downs of pursuing a writing career, and sometimes I need an escape. Yes Hawaii would be a wonderful escape option, but I'd have to pack and deal with the whole airport thing, not to mention the price of a ticket. Luckily,there is an another option that is safely in my price range and doesn't require wearing a bathing suit.

Yes, I am talking about romance novels. They are my comfort read of choice. Not just any romance novel will do though when I am seeking that comfort read. I can't deal with sub-par plotting or flat characters or over-the-top description. When I need that escape I stick with the romance authors I know and trust, seeking out their new releases or going back to re-read (sometimes for the third of fourth time) beloved favorites.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips tops my most re-read list, followed closely by Jennifer Crusie. Loretta Chase is my go-to favorite for historicals, but I also love Georgette Heyer whose generous backlist is a gift that just keeps on giving.

I tend to devour these novels within 24 hours or less, and when I turn the last page, I return to the real world slightly dazed and blinking as my eyes readjust from near focus to far. These books get me out of my own head, and sometimes that is the greatest comfort of all.

Really, the only thing that can make a comfort read better is a comfort meal to go with it.

Halfway through a comfort read it's best to make something that spends a lot of hands-off time in the oven while I continue turning pages. For me 40 cloves and a chicken fits the bill perfectly. With a pile of mashed potatoes on the side - it's the kind of meal that will make you happy to set your book aside... for a little while at least.

40 Cloves and A Chicken
(adapted from Alton Brown's recipe)


10-12 pieces of skin-on chicken legs and thighs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
10 fresh thyme sprigs
2-3 heads of garlic separated into cloves and peeled


1. Heat over to 350 degrees.
2. Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large dutch oven or a skillet with a snug fitting lid. Once oil is hot put chicken in skin-side down and cook 6-7 minutes or until skin is golden brown. Flip chicken and cook for 5 additional minutes on the other side.
3. Remove from heat. Add remaining oil, garlic cloves, and thyme. Cover and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bones.
4. Remove for the oven. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes if you have the patience. If not - just dig right in. Garlic is excellent mashed into potatoes or spread onto bread.



  1. I know what you mean about escaping into another world with fiction--there's nothing like it! For me, lately it's been fantasy and sci fi, but I've had "love affairs" with mysteries and romance, Russian lit and Hemingway. One of my favorite historical romance writers is Rexanne Becnel.

  2. Kate,

    That recipe sounds excellent. Me want eat!

  3. omg, how much do we love garlic at our house? let me count the ways! people tell me to put "a lot" of garlic and then they say, 3-4 cloves. i always double or triple, lol! can't wait to give this recipe a try, looks DEELISH!

  4. I can relate to ALL your worries, Kate! For me, the bad guys lurking don't stop at a shower curtain either. There are closets, under beds... Anyway. Great recipe too!

  5. Oh yum. Seriously, is there anything better than curling up on the sofa with a romance novel right after you've eaten and have a full belly? *happy sigh*

  6. I love 40 cloves & a chicken. Anything adapted by Alton Brown is sure to be delicious! I'm also a worrier by nature, especially as of late, and one of my all-time comfort books is THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton. I will go back to that book again and again.