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Comfort Food: Family Favorite Meals That Conjure Up Great Memories

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Comfort Food—My grandma is my favorite person in the universe, so you can imagine how devastating it was to learn that she had suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 76 when she was otherwise in perfect health.

When I got the news, I immediately dropped everything I was doing and we loaded the kids in the car and made the 12-hour drive to Arizona. By the time we arrived, I was calm and had come to terms with the fact that she was in a better place. And then I walked into her house.

I looked out the back windows at the orange trees and thought of all the times she'd make me freshly squeezed orange juice. I looked in the kitchen and remembered all the times me made sugar cookies or how diligently she tried to teach me her tuna sandwich recipe. She put in just the right amount of lemon juice, dill pickles, cucumbers, and celery with just a touch of pickle juice. No one could replicate it. And no matter how many times I'd make it with her, I could never get it to taste exactly like hers. And now she was gone. I fell apart.

The happiest moment of the entire weekend was her funeral. Her church's women's group was kind enough to make us lunch. We sat down, expecting ham and funeral potatoes. Instead, the women had created a buffet with all of the foods laid out for us that were my grandma's signature dishes: her amazing salad (that I am completely addicted to), homemade saurkraut, and everything down to the smallest details, including grape sherbet for dessert.

But when the women walked out with trays of banana cookies, we all lost it. Banana cookies are our family comfort food—the single item that conjures up the very happiest of memories. So, we sat, eating banana cookies through our tears, laughing about all the amazing memories we had with our grandma.

And now, whenever I need a hug from her, as cheesy as it sounds, I just bake a batch (and eat every single one of them!) and things seem to go better.

They'll make your day go better too. Try them and see.

Mary Alice's Banana Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 11/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups mashed bananas
  • 3 1/2 cups oats
  • 1-2 cups chocolate chips

Instructions

Mix dry ingredients and cut in shortening. Add eggs and bananas. Mix well. Add oats and chocolate chips to taste (one or two cups). Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees.

These are great frozen! Try it and see.

Yesterday, I needed a little Mary Alice in my life and wrote a post on Facebook:

And Jen Tilley responded in the best way possible:

Ahhhh! What a great friend to send me virtual cookies!
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What food or meals bring back the best memories for your family? What is your comfort food? Why?

Photo courtesy of Jen Tilley from How To: Simplify and Jen Tilley Photography.

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.

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