Does food equal comfort? and swiss steak recipe!

Tonight’s menu, Swiss Steak, is a really good comfort food, and easy to prep and plop in the crock pot for when we’re at Dance Class tonight. I’ll be trying the Culinary text book recipe, and it cooks for 1.5-2hrs to tenderize the meat, perfect for the crock pot. I have been using the Joy of Cooking recipe, which my family LOVES, especially served on a pillow of savory mashed sweet potatoes. The difference between the 2 recipes:

the J.O.C. recipe has wine, and no carrots…..I will post the recipe I use from the cooking school text at the end of this entry…..

Comfort Food. Where did that term come from? What defines it? Does food equal comfort?


–verb (used with object)


to soothe, console, or reassure; bring cheer to: They tried to comfort her after her loss.


relief in affliction; consolation; solace: Her presence was a comfort to him.

1.  pacify, calm, solace, gladden. Comfort, console, relieve, soothe  imply assuaging sorrow, worry, discomfort, or pain. To comfort  is to lessen the sadness or sorrow of someone and to strengthen by inspiring with hope and restoring a cheerful outlook:
OK, so if you are in the midst of any of these states of being mentioned above, will food really help?  Should food pacify? Calm? Gladden?



any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.
Now this is REAL “food for thought”!
What makes you comfortable? Let’s get down and dirty. What makes you comfortable in a crowd of strangers?  What makes you uncomfortable? Are you confident? Would eating something make you feel better? Why? Do you know that you are “good enough” right now, in your state of physical being, you are “good enough”? Discomfort comes from feelings of inadequacy, self doubt, there’s something wrong with you, others are “better”, whatever the heck “better” means. Who says? Who says they are “better”? Why do we give others, media, our culture such power over us? None of those “others” be they strangers, TV, magazines, even family or “friends” has any God given right to make you feel inadequate.  Or me either!
I began to gain comfort when I began taking charge of my life, my health. Let’s face it, you have no life, or poor quality life if you have poor health. I don’t mean the uncontrollable health issues, but I am speaking of the weight, lung capacity, muscle use. The “woe is me” mentality usually goes hand in hand with poor choices, poor quality of life. I had it. But then, I’d finally had enough. I reached my breaking point. I knew I deserved better. I started my fight against inadequacy, against feeling uncomfortable around strangers, in groups of women, against the “woe is me” mentality, against all the negativity that I grew up with, against all the people who said I couldn’t do it. I started that fight, and I have won some major battles, and I am never surrendering myself to that discomfort again. I deserve better than that.  So do you.
Here’s something I plan to try to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Our gym is offering a 6 week course in belly dancing. My belly is my last battle to fight. I am uncomfortable showing it to anyone other my husband. He loves it. He tells me daily. I am imagining that eventually we will be showing our tummies in the class. Will I be able to overcome my discomfort, my “shame” and show my tummy? What if there are ladies with flat tummies?? Oh boy. My heart gives a little flutter when I think about what I may be experiencing. The point of this will be to believe what I rationally know: my belly is nothing to be ashamed of. Others are not better than me because theirs is flat. We have different stories. We all belong.
I have a friend who had one of those experiences we all fear. She is just getting comfortable going to the gym. That place that we all feel uncomfortable in if we are not a size 6. She is wanting to take charge of her life. I want her to know how much she deserves to feel good about herself. She is taking that HUGE step, that step that everyone fears. She is stepping OUT of her comfort zone and she is fighting to feel adequate, to feel acceptable, to feel loved, to feel worthy, to feel comfortable in herself! Do you know what happened? Some ignorant, selfish, insecure gym patron (female) asked her (my friend,while she was dripping sweat in a class and trying her damnedest to work) HOW FAR ALONG SHE WAS???!!!!!!! and if this was her first baby! My dear friend has 3 teenage children. This is the LAST thing she needed thrown onto her plate to deal with. Oh, how I wish i was there, how I would love to physically wring that woman’s neck (I could do it you know, I bench 125lb right now!) Every sane, educated, well mannered person in this country knows you NEVER ask a woman if she is expecting, how old she is, what she weighs, what size she is…..So now what? What would You do? would you give up? would you say why bother? Would you cry? Would you eat? I’ll tell you what I hope she does. I hope with all my heart that she pulls herself up by her boot straps and uses that feeling as fuel to fire up her determination, to show that woman how ignorant she was, to prove to herself that she is stronger than the petty world. Maybe, just maybe I can get her to join the belly dance class. Which, think on this: I have another friend with a FLAT belly, who is VERY hesitant to take the belly dance class. So, this shows you that we all have fears and feelings of discomfort, inadequacy. If you or I am feeling this way, then you’d better believe there’s another woman your physical, polar, opposite, feeling the exact same way.
One last thought. You know I am working from the inside out. I am trying to change my gut reactions to compliments. Yesterday I had a friend at the Boy Scout Court of Honor tell me I was looking “really good” . She has watched me lose the 100 pounds, so she knows the history. My first thought was, “Thanks, but actually I’ve gained about 12 lbs since November.” Then I realized what I was doing and I actually squashed the thought before it left my mouth. and I said thank you….Then I explained why I stammered, and told her, “I am working on it” working on changing my thought processes, my inner negativity that says I am not worthy and a failure. So not only did I get to practice what I preach, but I also let her in on my plan and maybe she’ll think twice before negating a compliment!
So, I’m thinking that this socially acceptable term of  “comfort food” is passe.  Our comfort needs to come from within. So now my Swiss Steak will simply be known as the Nelson Family Favorite Swiss Steak.
here’s the cooking school recipe
mise en place:
small dice onions, 8 oz
mince 3 cloves garlic
dice 2 oz celery
measure out 2 oz flour
get your brown stock out, tomato puree
make a sachet of 1 bay leaf, .25tsp thyme, and 8  crushed pepper corns
dredge 6, 6oz round steaks in seasoned flour (salt and pepper to taste)*this is in addition to the 2 oz measured out). Heat oil in a roasting pan and brown steaks on both sides. Remove the steaks. Add the onions, garlic and celery and saute until tender. Add 2 oz flour and cook to a brown roux. Gradually add 2 pints brown stock, whisking until thickened and smooth. Add 3 oz tomato puree and sachet. ***once I got to this point, after the sauce was smooth I transferred it to the crock pot, meat first then sauce, and its on low now.that’s the sachet in the center. cook in 300′ F oven until tender, approx 2 hrs. I put it in the crock on low, for the next 4 hrs. Remove the steaks from the sauce. Discard the sachet. Strain the sauce and adjust the seasonings. Serve the steaks with the sauce. I plan on serving mine over mashed swt. potatoes, and I may or may not strain the sauce. I like the chunky-ness of it, BUT restaurant quality would be strained. There you go. Enjoy!

About wannebechef

I am a mom of 3 home schooled kids, wife of 19 years, head chef/manager of cafe and a personal chef and event planner.
This entry was posted in comfort food, cooking, culinary skills at home, dieting, food, home cooking, recipes, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Does food equal comfort? and swiss steak recipe!

  1. Looks great. I love crock pot cooking. Pretty much anything that comes out of the old crock pot is comfort food although in my case healthier than normal comfort food.

    Hmmmmm……does making it healthy take away all the comfort? I guess for some dishes is does but I am still comforted by my red beans and sausage.

    Nice blog. Have a great weekend.

    The Grumpy Man

  2. Janey says:

    Thoughtful, I will have to come read and think again. There are many layers to ponder here! Thank you!!!

    Also, just a thought to maybe break your paragraphs into smaller portions. It makes it easier to track while reading rather than a big long block of text, but it may be too detailish to bother with when you are doing so many other great things!

    • wannebechef says:

      thanks for the tip Janey. I was thinking the same thing, but was too much in the zone to do anything about it…I will work on paragraphs though…I knew it was a bit discombobulated, so much to say and hard to keep a focus, 🙂 I’ll refine and get better though. Thank you SO much fro reading and giving me feedback! You don’t know how much I appreciate that!

  3. Janey says:

    No worries! I read it because I was totally interested. I don’t think you were discombobulated at all, you are doing great as a writer. I just have eyes that need white space relief or they get overwhelmed. Interesting that my child in vision therapy is learning to do eye focus that we have realized I can’t do! So it is a bit of my own problem…. Anyway, you are doing great, I applaud you and thank you!

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