Kitchen Comfort

Cooking Inspired by the Greatest Generation

As soon as the coronavirus pandemic had us sheltering at home, I began thinking how people in our country have endured terrible difficulties before — and survived the hardships imposed. Throughout the last century, our parents and grandparents (and their parents) survived world wars, the Great Depression, rationing, and the polio epidemic. Times were scary and tough then; it’s up to us to learn from their survivor spirit now.


Pondering that, I began plowing through my grandmothers’ recipe boxes, packed with yellowed, fraying clippings and handwritten note cards, and their tattered cookbooks. These are rife with simple recipes that sustained them and their families during those hard years. They made do with what they had. And while I revel in the wealth of comfort to be mined there, I usually find the recipes need updating for our palates today. Cooks of their times used few spices and even fewer dried herbs then, but we have so much more available to us now. The adjustments are easy with just a few tweaks here and there. I shared this with my friend and editor, Erin Booke, at the Dallas Morning News, and began writing my Kitchen Comfort series for the DMN food section in April.

The point: Those who weathered those difficult times before us inspire us now. Their reassuring food gives us hope. Breaking bread with those you love is powerful, and I believe that as we cook and eat together with more awareness, we can find we’ll make it to the other side of our challenges, too. Here’s where this kind of cooking has led….

Kitchen Comfort: TAMALE PIE

A dig through many worn newspaper clippings found in my grandmother June’s recipe box, jammed tight with yellowed recipe cards and fragile newsprint pieces, revealed



My two grandmothers loved cooking, and the gifts they left me were some of their favorite recipes. My grandmother Pauline Naylor (my dad’s mom) left