Comfort Week 2: Battle of the Heart-Cloggers

Now that we are no longer in The Month That Shall Not Be Named, I've regained a little of my cookbook-inventory motivation. Not a lot of it, as it is still absurdly hot outside. But I find that I function better in indignant "You are being ridiculous, September" mode than I do in mournful "I have chosen to live in Texas and I deserve whatever happens to me in August" mode. Doesn't mean I can't still use some food-related comfort in this time of difficulty, by which I mean every couple of waking hours every day of the year.

As it happens, we have a comfort foods showdown this week, the first contender being Cookbook #85: Comfort Foods: Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals (Rachael Ray, 2000). Provenance: This was more or less a gag gift from friends several years ago. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Number of times I will describe the recipes within as yum-o: zero.

Not that anything was bad. But I went in expecting to forgo fanciness and nutritional value in exchange for ease and tastiness and these recipes were not especially easy and were only regular-tasty, not worth-all-the-fat-and-carbs tasty. The Cheddar Cheese soup tasted like fine, salty soup, but wasn't all that cheesy and had a strange grainy texture. The Antipasto Grinder had about fifteen ingredients and was a beast to assemble (I assume whatever baguette Ray was using was très grand because I had to cut way down on filling and STILL wrestled with it) and just tasted like...salt and squishiness.

Just trying to wrangle the capers back underneath the bread took 30 minutes at least.

The Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Tomato and Onion Salsa was less complicated, but I followed the directions pretty carefully and wasn't even close to getting the crust to stay on the chicken. Slightly crispy parmesan tastes really good, so I was willing to forgive quite a bit here, but the overall was still just okay.

Verdict: I was never meant to love this one, but so many of the dishes sounded so good that I was pretty disappointed. Recommended for: people who find that surprising difficulty is character-building, people who like salt.

Cookbook #86: Comfort Foods: America's Favorite Foods, Cooked The Way You Like Them (Rita M. Harris, 1996) seemed to promise that someone else or possibly the book itself would be cooking things for me but that did not pan out. Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. The only explanation I have for the fact that the one bookmarked recipe was for Stuffed Mushrooms: exceptionally subtle poltergeist.

There were a lot of comforting basics (macaroni and cheese, chicken fried steak, tuna melt) but for some reason I went for the Minestrone with Meatballs. Maybe because it has like ten different vegetables in it and I wasn't 100% in the spirit of the thing when I was making this meal plan.

I'm comforted by the presence of insoluble fiber, okay?

Verdict: I liked this soup. I am continuing to like the massive amounts of leftovers generated by this soup. I guess I should try one of the more conspicuously unhealthy offerings eventually. Sorta feeling like Stuffed Mushrooms for some reason.

I guess Ivy caught wind of the fact that Mark Zuckerberg is trying to steal her soul, because she's been going incognito for a couple of days now.

Of course, it's possible that the girls are just hoping to keep the heat off of their illegal gambling den.

Now they'll DEFINITELY never get into college.