The Comfort of Food

Bacon and Roasted Pumpkin 3 Cheese Macaroni

Comfort food is a commonly used term to describe an entire genre of cooking that is so individually inspired that to try to categorize the food that makes a person feel comforted when the weather is cold and snowy, and sunlight is nowhere in sight is rather daunting.  I tend to think that comfort foods are foods that remind us of childhood or young adult hood when we first started making our own foods to enjoy without mom and dad’s oversight.  I think family recipes fall into the comfort food category yet, when asked what is your favorite comfort food, most people seem to answer the same:  macaroni and cheese, lasagna, chicken pot pie, meatloaf,  beef stew…you get the picture.  Interestingly enough when one performs an internet search on the same question the answers come up the same.  With so many cultural and regional influences that we all grew up with how could we all possibly be comforted by the same foods?  I think that the rise of cooking shows and internet access has done more than allowed us access to a wealth of information; it has also influenced what we deem comforting whether we really find macaroni and cheese comforting or not, there it is at the top of everyone’s list.  And what macaroni and cheese are we really talking about?  My mom was an excellent cook and baker and I grew up with some pretty amazing food on the table, but if I were to find comfort in macaroni and cheese from my youth, it most certainly would have come in a blue box and not be made with 4 different cheeses and an herbed bread crumb topping.  Did anyone really grow up with bacon and roasted pumpkin 3 cheese macaroni and cheese? 

I find that when I ask myself the same question, the answers are much different. I am extremely comforted by coffee, the smell of it brewing and the hot scalding liquid running down my throat.  My parents always have a pot of coffee on and everything about it reminds me of being warm and safe in my childhood home. 

I also find pesto quite comforting.  I remember a dinner when I was about 12 where my dad had heard of this new fangled stuff called pesto.  He had never had it before, heck nobody had, I really don’t think it was wildly popular until not that long ago.  He made it with dried basil and put it over pasta with ground beef added at the end.  It was an oily consistency and although you will probably think I am crazy, it was DELICIOUS!  It kind of started a pesto revolution in my family; my parents went on a SEARCH that lasted most of the rest of my childhood for the perfect pesto.  They mastered it somewhere around my 16thbirthday and to this day my mom and I put up as many jars of pesto that we can squeeze into the freezer during basil season.  We use fresh basil these days.  So for me, more than eating pesto which I find very comforting, the act of putting it up in the freezer for the winter is even more so.

Last but not least on my comfort food list are my mom’s orange danishes.  When I was a little girl my mom baked for a local shop and every weekend I woke up to the yeasty smell of these beautiful spirals of orange deliciousness baking in the oven.  I make them once a year during the holidays and find that they instantly transport me back.

No matter what you personally find comforting, you probably have been hoping since you saw the wordsbacon and roasted pumpkin 3 cheese macaroni and cheesethat I would give you the recipe, so here it is.  Enjoy!

Bacon and Roasted Pumpkin 3 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

  • ½ lb diced bacon
  • 1 T garlic granules
  • 4 T butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ T dry mustard powder
  • ½ T salt
  • 1 t paprika
  • 2 cup milk
  • 1 ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan
  • ¼ cup crumbled gorgonzola
  • 4 cup diced pumpkin
  • 1 lb macaroni
  1. Toss the diced  pumpkin in a little olive oil and salt and roast off at 450 degrees until done, set aside
  2. Cook off the macaroni, set aside
  3. In a sauce pan cook the bacon until crisp, remove the bacon and set aside, discard the bacon fat
  4. Lower the heat to low, melt the butter in the sauce pan and whisk in the dry mustard, salt, garlic granules, and paprika
  5. Whisk in the flour until smooth and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until the mixture smells toasty
  6. Add the milk and cream, whisking until smooth.  Simmer until the liquid has the consistency of a very loose gravy, stir constantly to avoid burning on the bottom (If the sauce seems too thick, add more milk, a little at a time, stirring after each addition until the consistency makes you happy)
  7. Whisk in the cheeses thoroughly
  8. Add in the reserved bacon
  9. Taste! Adjust seasonings as needed
  10. Mix the sauce into the cooked macaroni, add the roasted pumpkin and enjoy!

More Co-op News

Riding off into the Sunset


By Annie Hoy, Retiring Marketing Manager

Since I was born and raised in far West Texas, I cannot help but use some imagery from what is so familiar to me.

Staff Picks: Summer Hikes and Trail Snacks

Our staff loves to head outside and enjoy the gorgeous Oregon outdoors. Here's a few of their favorite trails and the Co-op snacks they like to take with them.



Be a Zero Waste Hero in Four Easy Steps

By Stephanie Koerella, Education Coordinator

Reducing our waste has continued to be of greater concern for Rogue Valley residents, especially since January, when options for recycling became even more limited. While the Ashland Food Co-op is ramping up our efforts to reduce waste as a business, there is a lot that our community can do at home to help the cause.

Staff Picks: Earth Friendly Products

In celebration of Sustainability Month in April, we asked our Sustainability Committee to share their favorite eco-friendly product.

2018 Kids Summer Camps

We’ve teamed up with Rogue Valley Farm to School to offer three different camps this summer. Each week campers will dive into food production, preparation and exploration, with a mix of farm and kitchen experiences that delight the senses and inspire the soul. Join Rogue Valley Farm to School staff as they cultivate the ability to grow and cook delicious, healthy, seasonal meals. Monday - Wednesday at the Co-op Community Classroom, Thursday & Friday at the Farm at SOU.

Update on our Strategic Initiatives

By Ed Claassen, Board President

Your Board and Management Team invested a significant amount of time in 2014 developing a set of strategic initiatives that we believe are vital in shaping the future of our business and furthering our mission. We formed a Strategic Planning Steering Committee consisting of 3 Board members and 3 Management Team members to guide the implementation of these initiatives.

2018 Electronic Coupon Schedule

To further our sustainability efforts and to serve you better, we began offering Electronic Owner Coupons in January 2017 at the register.

No more forgetting to bring your owner coupons. No more waiting for your newsletter to arrive. Cashiers simply ask if you want to use your owner coupons when you check out.

As we enter our second year of Electronic Coupons we wanted to share a couple of friendly reminders and the 2018 month by month schedule.

Please note:

Co+op Basics: High Integrity, Low Price

Looking to stretch your grocery budget? So are we! We've lowered the price on over three hundred items to create a set of high integrity staples for every shopper. Welcome to Co+op Basics.

Co+op Basics includes over 300 pantry and household staples. From beef to milk to cereal, we’ve lowered the margin and price on all those items to make organic, healthy food accessible to every shopper.

Proposals Sought for the 2018 Community Grants

The funding cycle for the 2018 Co-op Community Grants for nonprofit organizations is now open.

Every spring, for more than 20 years, we’ve been donating to area nonprofits through our Community Grant program. We are committed to creating healthy, sustainable communities and this program helps us fulfill that commitment by supporting the amazing work of local nonprofits. The Community Grant program is also the highlight of Cooperative Principle 7, Concern for Community, and is something we take to heart.

From the General Manager’s Desk

By Emile Amarotico

As we commence our lap around the sun in 2018, I wish to recognize the longstanding contributions of an amazing group of professionals. We are blessed with the dedication of eleven department managers expertly coordinating the daily flow of people, products and services that breath life into our Co-op!

  • Lynne (35+ years’ tenure) our Grocery Manager oversees keeping the aisles abundant with shelf stable products and coolers full of fresh perishables.

The Role of the Board in Co-op Governance

By Gwyneth Bowman, Vice President

After serving on the AFC Board for fourteen years my passion for the Co-op model has strengthened my commitment to the Cooperative Principles and Values. Of special importance is how we work together as a governing body with one voice. We are the ultimate decision-makers of our Co-op and hold a trusteeship for the benefit of our owners and community.

Fall Favorites from the Co-op

Like it or not, the cool weather has arrived. Whether you are heading out for a hike or enjoying a good book by the fire, the Co-op Deli has what you need to fuel your favorite fall activity. Stay warm with these comfort food recommendations from the Co-op Deli.

From the General Manager's Desk

By Emile Amarotico

A recent visitor commented that our parking is totally inadequate to our business volume. What’s true is that we cannot create more parking due to space and municipal code constraints. Thus, the value of each available space is increasing over time. Assuming only half of Co-op shoppers use automobile parking, each space supports at least $200,000 in annual sales.