Comfort food has been the star of my home menus lately. It’s no coincidence that dishes including chicken noodle soup with turkey meatballs, roast chicken with mashed potatoes, turkey meatloaf, beef stew and apple cobbler have graced our table during the month following our recent move out of state. Don’t worry, vegetables such as corn on the cob, roast cauliflower and tomato panzanella salad, made it into my family’s bellies, too. But let’s face it, the vegetables are not the part of the meals that offers the most emotional support.
After more than 18 years in North Carolina, we returned to New York for my husband’s job. The move capped a crazy year during which my husband lived with his sister in New York, while I was still in North Carolina with our children. So reuniting on a full-time basis was the best and happiest part of the move. We also are excited to be closer to our family members and friends in the area, along with being able to share with our children many of the wonderful parts of New York, a state in which we both grew up and met. But a move is always a big transition. Of course we are missing our family and friends in North Carolina, and we are missing the familiarity of an area we loved. While the kids are adapting to their new surroundings, it’s not easy to be the new kid, whether entering a new dance class or taking a swing on a new tennis court with all new kids.
So allergy friendly comfort food has been in order. But there was a method to one particular week’s lineup. I wanted to make a family favorite, chicken piccata, but I had no chicken broth. So I started the week making a roast chicken, then I used the chicken carcass to make broth, which also turned into the chicken noodle soup for that night. After a few days I was able to use the broth to make chicken piccata, much to my family’s delight.
Because of Joseph’s multiple food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg, soy, sesame, mustard, strawberries and watermelon, I make homemade broth and freeze it in proportions ready to use for cooking. Frozen broth did not make the move with us, as our cooler was filled with all of the foods Joseph would need to eat during the week we stayed in a hotel while we waited for the moving truck to deliver our belongings. I brought a few pans so I could cook a some things at our house before all of my kitchen items arrived and packed lots of meals that I had cooked and frozen before we left, such as pizza, baked ziti and turkey meatballs.
I prepared for the travel part of the move, much like I prepare for our annual weeklong trip to the beach, which I wrote about in Living Without’s Gluten Free & More magazine in the 2013 article, “Road Trip”. The difference was that this time, I also had to make preparations ahead so that I could start to make our new home a safe zone for Joseph and to find an allergist so he could have an appointment and receive his immunotherapy shots (for environmental allergies) on schedule. I felt like I was transporting a top-secret product as I packed up his serum in a cooler for the long drive North to bring it to the new allergist. Thankfully, the local food allergy support group offered recommendations for an allergist, leading us to allergist we already love.
As we navigate our new surroundings and the weather starts to get cooler, I will continue to feature comfort foods on our menu. We are planning to visit an apple orchard this week, so I’m sure pork chops with apples will go a little way toward comforting my family in our new home.