Comforting Food for Troubled Times



What a difference a week makes. Last week we were concerned about corona virus but not overly so. Now we’re “sheltering in place,” a term you’ve heard many times since then. 

I was at the grocery and not surprised to see lean or empty shelves.

No doubt we’re all experiencing a scary time. It’s the unknown that’s so unsettling. So what do we do to keep our minds occupied, spirits calmed and our bodies nourished while we shelter in place? We pray, and we cook. For ourselves and others. 

If you’ve got pasta, beans and canned tomatoes, you’ve got the backbone of my easy pasta fagioli. This has been shared too many times to count. I know why requests are coming in again — familiar and tasty, the aroma draws you in as it cooks, and for those reasons, it’s comforting. 

Let the kids help make these favorite peanut butter cookies with ingredients you likely have on hand. Tuck some in your mailbox. A nice way to say “thanks”. 

Remember shutins. Ask nursing homes for names of folks who don’t get visitors. Send a card and introduce yourself. You’ll make a new friend. 

Check out my site for foods to stock.  (You can freeze milk). 

Easy and quick vegetarian pasta fagioli

Leftover salad greens? Stir them in at the end. 


1 pound penne or other pasta

1 tablespoon garlic 

1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil (I use 1/2 cup)

2-3 teaspoons dried oregano

3 cans favorite beans, drained (I like Cannellini, red, kidney, chick peas)

28 oz canned diced tomatoes

Spinach or other greens — chopped coarsely (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan, Romano or Mozzarella for garnish


While pasta water heats, start sauce. 

Heat olive oil, add garlic and oregano. Stir a minute or so, then add everything but spinach and cheese. Bring to boil. Lower to simmer, smooshing some of the beans with a potato masher. By this time, the pasta water should be boiling, ready to add pasta. By the time the pasta’s done, the sauce is, too. Stir in spinach. Pour sauce over pasta.  Sprinkle with plenty of cheese.

Sis’ peanut butter cookies


1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup each: granulated sugar, and packed light or dark brown sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons milk, any kind

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1-1/4 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 375. Beat peanut butter, butter and both sugars until mixed well. Add in egg, milk and vanilla and mix well. 

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together then blend into peanut butter mixture.
Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place 2” apart onto ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheets. Press each ball with fork tines.

Bake 8-10 minutes, just until edges are golden. Don’t overbake.

Let cool a few minutes and then remove. Makes about 2-3 dozen.

Gilding the lily: Before baking, sprinkle with a bit of coarse, regular or sparkling sugar. After baking and cooled, dip into melted chocolate, etc.


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