The Epitome of Comfort Food

"What are we having for dinner?" My thirteen-year old self yelled from the living room into the kitchen.

"Creamed chicken and biscuits." Mom called back. She was pulling containers out of the fridge, washing her hands, tying her apron, and sighing now and then. Long day?

"Awww, really? Again?" I cried.

"Yes, we are. It's been a long day, there's leftover chicken that needs eating. Will you please come in and set the table?"

I put my nose back in my book and scowled. Chicken and biscuits. How uninspiring. I got up and dragged my feet into the kitchen. I hated setting the table.

In the kitchen, mom was scraping chopped, cooked chicken into a thick, warm gravy. She opened the freezer, dug out some frozen vegetables and added them to the mix. She put the lid on the saucepan and opened the oven to check the biscuits. They were done: fluffy, flaky, buttery goodness. My stomach rumbled.

"Where's dad and Katherine?" I asked.

"They're coming home from track practice. Should be here any minute. Will you please set the table?"

"Aww do I have to..."

"Judy, I don't want to ask you again."

I got the silverware out of the drawer, set it out on the table, lit the candles, and made sure everyone had a napkin. Then dad and Katherine came in the door, sweaty and hungry. They'd been out high-jumping or long-jumping or doing some kind of jumping, running around in circles, throwing things, you know.

"Smells good!" Dad said.

"Okay, we're ready to eat!" mom cried. I stood with my plate in hand, hungry, and no longer "uninspired". She opened up a biscuit, put it on my plate and poured the thick chicken gravy over the biscuit. It smelled so good. Then we all sat down.

No one said much; it was the end of a week in February. The rain poured down, the candles flickered and Joni Mitchel sang about bows and flows and angel hair. After we'd finished eating we ate the leftover biscuits slathered in Smuckers raspberry jam for dessert.

"Can I be excused? It's been 15 minutes," I piped up, breaking the quiet.

"Yes, you may." Mom said.

"Me too?" said Katherine.

"It's Katherine's night for dishes! Katherine's night for dishes! Haha!" I broke out into song, dancing around the dining room. My sister groaned when she remembered this was true.

I scampered off into the evening, delighted I didn't have to do the dishes or sit a moment longer at the table. But my belly was full and I called out as I pounded downstairs to my room, "Hey mom! Thanks for dinner!"

"You're welcome," I heard her call as I shut my door and disappeared.

Creamed Chicken and Biscuits

Because I have class at night, I often cook during the day. I also try and make meals that are nourishing, inexpensive, comforting and easy. The answer? Chicken and biscuits. No wonder my parents made it so often. And even though I've never really liked frozen vegetables, I quickly realized that this dish isn't the same without some added frozen peas, corn, or carrots, or all three.

Despite my resistance throughout my teenage years to sit for longer than 15 minutes with my family at the table (that was the rule anyways), I now value eating with people above all, and the meals I share with my family when I go home beat any meal I've ever eaten by myself. In the meantime, I'm focusing on enjoying eating alone, because that too has value: Being comfortable with you are.

for 2 people

1 TBS butter
1 TBS flour
1 C chicken stock

1 C cooked, chopped chicken
1 C frozen veggies
1 tsp dried thyme (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

1 recipe for biscuits

- Make biscuits.
- They may be done before the gravy is. No problem! Take them out of the oven, wrap them in a towel and set them aside in a bowl until you're ready to eat.

For the gravy

- Over medium heat, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan.
- Add the flour and stir vigorously to combine it with the butter until bubbling.
- Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring constantly. As the chicken stock heats up and the flour cooks, a gravy forms. The sauce may take 10 minutes or so to thicken. It is important to stir the sauce while it thickens. Otherwise, it will burn on the bottom.
- Add the salt, pepper and thyme.
- Add the chicken and veggies.
- Turn the heat down and put the lid on the pot and cook until the veggies are soft.
- Taste for seasoning. (I've heard you can add some cream here, if you're not too fat, but I've never done this. I don't consider myself too fat, either. I bet it's delicious.)
- Cut open two biscuits, place them face up on a plate and smother them with the creamed chicken.

- After, have a little dessert why don'cha! I've been eating huge oranges every day, because they're in season in some far off place, and delicious. And then a couple squares of chocolate never hurt anyone.


  1. This is a family favorite of ours for using up leftover roast turkey as well as the ever-present leftover chicken. I always put just a bit of nutmeg in the gravy--not enough, as Julia Child taught, to have people say, "Oh, nutmeg," but enough to add that slightly exotic taste with poultry. (And I like nutmeg better than thyme.)

  2. I love that story --very well-written, and ... it is just SO YOU !! :)

  3. What wonderful memories come flooding back from all those meals when our house was filled with two teenagers, an ever-ravenous springer spaniel, a mom trying to reinvent herself as a high school music teacher and a husband charged with keeping all the various elements from crashing into each other. I'm so grateful for all of the meals we shared together - even if the presence of some of the participants had to be mandated!

  4. Oh the days of the 15 minute rule. Long, tortured and agonizing as you and I scowled into our food, mom and dad pretended they were enjoying themselves and tried to extract tidbits about our day. And just think, now any night we all sit down together and share food its like a celebration full of love and laughter. I guess we've done a pretty good job of growing up you and I, most likely due to all that chicken and biscuits. Love you tons lady!xoxox

  5. I first learned of chicken/gravy/biscuit glory in Texas, and will forever be grateful.

    Also, I just read an article about how things like the 15 minute rule is "conditioning" to sociatal standards. I am kind of ok wiht this method of control. Along with "if you eat like an animal, you eat with the animals" rule common to our dinners.

  6. Margaret - I love the nutmeg idea. I'll try it next time.

    Kelsey - the 15 minute rule changed my life! I have been known to sit there for 2 hours now. My parents taught us how to eat together and how to be together: that's invaluable. No eating like animals, but I will permit singing at the table. Now Sal allows this, but not when I was smaller! No singing at the table! Ridiculous. Things have changed though. Now we whistle and hollar and put napkins on our heads and whirl around. People have even flung peas! That's usually after the eating's done though.

  7. We learn the rules to break them, right Judes?


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