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Down on the Farm: Bring on the comfort food

As we head into the cozy days of late autumn, our bodies demand that we eat big platefuls of comfort food and then go back and dish up some more. Comfort food, to me, is mashed potatoes, gravy and meat. And maybe some white bread with loads of real butter.

Forget vegetables. As the weather gets colder, my appetite for vegetables withers up to nothing. Part of the reason is that the garden is done.

No more fresh, juicy tomatoes. They froze. If you want tomatoes in late October, it is back to the pink, tough tomatoes from the store.

Corn on the cob is a distant memory. Canned corn is about as good as canned vegetables get, but it is nothing like fresh corn on the cob.

As the weather turns gray, area restaurants and cafeterias go back to gray canned green beans and watery gray peas. Both should be banned.

Frozen veggies are slightly better, but they aren't as tender as the good stuff fresh out of the garden. The only veggies I enjoy in the fall are those which have been pickled into oblivion. Something tells me pickled vegetables have so many extra goodies in them that their health benefits are canceled out. But who cares.

Then there is fresh sauerkraut. There's nothing like crunchy, rubbery, delicious fresh homemade sauerkraut. In late fall, sauerkraut is so much better than other cabbage delivery systems such as cole slaw. Sauerkraut doesn't get old because it is already old and rotten when it is fresh.

So, this is the time of year when we eat our veggies fermented. Or, you can do like the Lutherans and just change the definition of a vegetable.

The fall of the year is when I agree with the Lutherans on their liberal redefinition of the term "salad." Forget the lettuce. It is too much work to chew, and it is too cold. Forget the radishes, the raw carrots, the raw celery, all of that stuff.

No, in the Lutheran church basement, a "salad" can consist of jello chunks in whipped cream with ground walnuts sprinkled on top. Apple chunks are optional.

Yep, that's a salad in Lutheran theology, even though most religions would consider such a dish dessert.

One should note that even break-away Lutheran sects which prefer their scripture literally interpreted go all wobbly when it comes to the definition of "salad." I mean, since the days of the Founding Fathers, a "salad" has been something that contains crunchy vegetables.

Not in this modern age. Not with the Lutherans. Bring a tossed lettuce salad, or any vegetable that crunches, to a Lutheran funeral in December and see if you get anybody to bite.

They won't touch it. Instead, they'll go for a "salad" with jello that contains a few shreds of carrot slathered over with cream cheese. That is about as close as they'll get to a raw vegetable until April. Because the concoction is called a "salad," they can chart on their calorie counter like they would lettuce.

It reminds me of when the Reagan administration declared ketchup a vegetable. The Reaganites were trying to save money on the school lunch program. Ketchup was cheaper and less fatal to schoolchildren than gray canned green beans.

But the Lutherans weren't thinking about cost when they redefined Jello as a vegetable. They liberalized their definition of salad to include Cool Whip and cream cheese out of respect for the dietary biorhythms of Nordics in the northland.

Nobody wants to eat fresh, crunchy vegetables this time of year! Who knows where those veggies came from, anyway? Who knows how they were fertilized? Who knows if they're even real?

Better to be safe and redefine the word "salad" to include anything less sweet than pie and ice cream.

More to the point, Lutheran cooks realize it is better to follow our instincts and allow ourselves the extra padding that fall comfort food provides.

You can bet that when we're stuck in a snow drift on a township road at thirty below with a dead cellphone, we'll be glad we packed on those few extra pounds.

A lot of good lettuce will do you then.