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Tell Me About Your Favorite "Square Meal?"

It could be anything, and will probably show a lot of regionality. To my mind, it's usually fairly plain honest food - though I love a good microgreens salad, it doesn't strike me as particularly homey. I'd have a hard time choosing between these two menus:
Meatloaf with real brown gravy and mash, peas with almonds and onions and a green salad with a simple vinaigrette, or:
Roast chicken with pan juices, scalloped potatoes, definitely a green buttered veg., and more salad, homemade Thousand Island dressing.
I don't eat like this too often, but I do love a nice "Square Meal" a few times a month, health be damned.
Either menu has either fudge layer cake or apple pie and vanilla bean ice cream for afters.
Tell me about yours, please?

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  1. Gotta be a beef stew (with dumplings, of course) Or, as you mention regionality, then a Lancashire Hotpot.

    No dessert - there's no great sweet tooth with Mr & Mrs Harters.


    5 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      Harters, soon as I saw the first three letters of L-A-N, I knew this was you. :)
      Cheers. No sweet tooth at all, though? I know you eat a cheese course now and again, but that of course is an entirely different matter. :0

      1. re: mamachef

        Oh, I can fight my way through desserts with the best of 'em. But it's not something I regularly crave. It's fairly rare that we eat one at home and, more often than not, will also pass when we're eating out.

        I put it down to postwar food rationing. Sugar was the last to come off ration in 1954. That meant my mother had had her formative cooking years pretty much without sugar, so it never featured much when I was a youngster (I was born in 1950).

        1. re: Harters

          Makes good sense to me!! Funnily enough, I love dessert at home but almost NEVER have it out and I have no idea why that is.
          Sticky Toffee pudding with custard sauce is what god would make if he were a pastry chef serving his best good friends.

          1. re: mamachef

            Ah, now then. Sticky toffee pudding.

            Generally accepted as having been invented by Francis Coulson, then owner of the Sharrow Bay Hotel in Cumbria (north west England). The hotel is about 2 hours north of me. We were last there in 2010, for a couple of nights, celebrating the start of Mrs H's recovery from a debilitating illness (from which she is still not fully recovered). It was the finest sticky toffee pudding I've ever eaten - rich yet the lightest of sponges.

            A fussy chintzy hotel still - but the view over the lake must be one of the best in England

            1. re: Harters

              I don't have much of a sweet toth,m but if I'm going for it I like it to be sweet. Sticky toffee pudding sounds like the ultimate. Gotta have it one of these days.

    2. Sounds like you're talking a meat and potatoes meal. Mine would be either a pot roast with carrots and mashed potatoes or a roast chicken with roasted vegetables. Now, if it was a splurge, it would be grilled lamb with dauphinoise potatoes and sauteed spinach. No dessert for me either, already enough food.

      4 Replies
      1. re: escondido123

        Well, it can by whatever your interpretation is, be it vegetarian, vegan, omnivore........I bet we'll see a wide variety of answers. But yes, for me it's the holy trinity of meat or poultry, potatoes, and a veg of some kind. And gravy, because I believe it's a food group of its' own. :)
        Yum to all your choices.

        1. re: mamachef

          In that case, it will always be pasta, probably spaghetti with a tomato sauce and maybe meatballs. Butter lettuce salad with prefectly ripe "Bacon" avocado. Piece of dark chocolate for dessert.

          1. re: escondido123

            Is the bacon avocado the best you've found? Bcause my favorite nursery here has both Mexicola and Bacon trees, I'm trying to figure out which one I should get, because I'll get one in the next month.

        2. re: escondido123

          Escondido, +1 on all your choices! I would add roasted turnips and rutabagas with my pot roast tho, and that and the roast chicken would have pan gravy with wine and garlic &herbs. With Momachef that gravy is a food group!

          I would have dessert, but would want someone else to make it for me, but it be homemade; either boysenberry crumble, warm with ginger ice cream; a really excellent dark chocolate cake with ganache icing; or a perfect coffee creme brulee, or Le Regalade's rice pudding with caramel....

        3. Breaded fried chicken with mash potatoes and either collards or green beans. Black coffee with key lime pie for dessert.

          1 Reply
          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

            It was hard for me to decide between the roast chicken and fried chicken and I'm wavering all over again. Love the pie, too.

          2. Easy.
            My Grandma's standing rib roast with her signature dark, rich pan gravy...mashed potatoes with lots of butter and cream, mashed turnips, rutabagas and carrots, green salad with lots of veggies (all from her garden) and buttermilk dressing. Then, of course, her homemade dinner rolls.
            For dessert her blackberry dumplings, that she'd picked that morning in the woods behind her house...the little tiny ones indigenous to Washington State, with whipped cream.
            With a big pot of coffee.

            3 Replies
            1. re: latindancer

              I love your grandma and boy were YOU lucky. Do you happen to have the dressing recipe or something that approximates it?

              1. re: mamachef

                Do I ever wish I had her recipe(s)...
                She's been gone a long time and all I know is she used lots of garlic, buttermilk, sour cream and whatever else she'd come up with.
                She learned to cook from her mother who had a strong French background in culinary techniques....one of which was lots of butter and cream on just about everything :).
                My Grandma's written recipes were far and few between. She used her own tastes and knew how to put everything together masterfully and came up with her own ideas on how food should taste. She would pour and stir and hardly ever measure from what I recall. I was just too young (and oblivious to mortality) to stand beside her and measure as she added. She was incredibly gifted in this area. Thanks for asking though ! :). Great post by the way.

              2. re: latindancer

                I want to come to your Grandma's with you for that meal, latindancer. Yum!

              3. Hmmm....if calories were nonexistent I'd have to say a veggie lasagna with zucchini, eggplant, and spinach with lots of mozz and a whole wheat crostini with a tomato and balsamic topping for an app. Gelato with a biscotti and coffee for desert.

                In actuality--steamed veg on wild greens with balsamic dressing. Then seared scallops and more steamed veg. Frozen yogurt and berries for dessert.

                2 Replies
                1. re: chrissy1988

                  Calories are nonexistent if you eat standing up like a Barbarian. :) Nice meals.

                  1. re: mamachef

                    Or with your hands. No calories there.

                2. My interpretation wouldn't be my husband's interpretation. For me, a square meal is spaghetti and meatballs, with a piece of pork sauce meat cooked until it falls apart. The pork should have a little sauce on it and some grated Romano. After would be a salad, followed by an espresso, and if it's truly a special day, a lovely cannoli.

                  I think that our square meal are things that ( quoting TS Eliot here) are mixing memory and desire. For my husband, while it is a delicious meal, it wouldn't be a square meal for him, I am sure. For him, I am certain it would be a steak, a baked potato with a Caesar salad to start. Dessert for him after such a meal is rare, but if there was to be dessert, it would likely be ice cream with some coconut and chocolate chips, hit with a shot of Grand Marnier.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: roxlet

                    Nice. What a thoughtful answer. And it sure does take all kinds to keep the world spinning 'round, does it not?

                    1. re: roxlet

                      OK, so why is husband's choice not a square meal? I might add some fresh green beans or sautéed vegetables to that menu to square it up, but other than that you have the protein, the starch, and vegetable.

                      If it were roast beef or roast chicken instead? Or is it because the salad is caesar? Assuming the potato comes with butter and sour cream and bacon bits?

                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                        Oh, it is a square meal, it's just not MY square meal.

                    2. This is a tough one for me. Gotta go for bruschetta with a tomato/garlic/olive oil/balsamic topping. Sautéed rainbow chard with ceci, red pepper flakes, and slivered garlic. If dessert is served, a raspberry sorbet.

                      1. I agree that we don't eat like this too often either, usually because we're trying to keep things "light" or simple, but when we do it's usually grilled steaks or meatloaf with a salad and homemade dressing and some sort of potato, or the roast chicken with a simple salad. Perhaps some nice hot rolls on the side too. And then we always remark to each other how delicious a meal it is and that we should do it more often. We don't usually do dessert either.

                        I do want to relate this story though... We recently had our son's fiancee's parents over to our house for the first time (we've been with them a number of times before this but this was the first time that they've been in this area and were available to come over for dinner.) They're absolutely lovely people and couldn't ask for better "out-laws." Anyway, in deciding the menu for the evening I ran a few things by our son to ask his opinion. His fiancee's parents like to eat out and like nice things and are willing to try new things but at home they don't cook very much other than a simple rotation of 4-5 simple meals - spaghetti, taco salad, etc. Our family is the opposite - always trying new recipes and experimenting with different ingredients. Sometimes they're successful, sometimes not so much. In any case, as we talked about the menu my son suggested that we just keep it simple - nothing out of the ordinary, nothing too complicated, so as not to intimidate them for any further get-togethers down the line when we will most likely be at their home for dinner. In my son's words, "No stinky cheeses!" :-) The menu we came up with was homemade margaritas, chips and guacamole, and a platter of chilled shrimp and cocktail sauce for appetizers, grilled tri-tip, oven-roasted potatoes, and a salad of butter lettuce, red leaf lettuce, almonds, oranges and a garlic-gingery homemade dressing. Dessert was a homemade chocolate cake. It was delicious and seemingly a very simple menu. We loved it because it really was an easy menu in the way it looked, but it was still fun for my husband and I because we were able to make sure that those seemingly "simple" menu items were still the best they could be - the margaritas, the guacamole, the dressing for the salad, and the chocolate cake. And we knew the tri-tip would be amazing... my husband is a master at grilling. It came out a perfect medium rare and perfectly seasoned. All in all, a fun and successful evening. We all had a wonderful time together. And we both remarked later at how happy we were with what you might call a "square meal."

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: schmoopy

                          What a lovely story, schmoopy. Thank you for sharing it. Isn't it true that the most plebeian foods (and I'm not saying your menu was because it sounds classic and just wonderful.) improve when the quality is kept to the highest standard? And even more wonderful when the company is excellent? So glad your son found such great in-laws and a lovely fiancee; Mazel Tov!!

                          1. re: mamachef

                            Thank you so much for the well wishes. We're very thankful too.

                        2. Mine would be either:
                          Meatloaf (my dad's recipe), mac and cheese (my Very Traditional recipe) and roasted Brussels Sprouts with a little olive oil and balsamic.
                          Roast chicken, bare naked (the chicken, that is), baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon butter, and sauteed spinach with a spritz of lemon. And a crusty baguette with good butter.

                          Dessert for either - homemade frozen yogurt or ice cream with a little jam or chocolate on top.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: jmcarthur8

                            So many are reporting meatloaf and chicken!! I did not suspect as much. I thought my meals were the squarest. :) And of course you should never ever cook chicken barenaked; those spatters hurt like hell!!
                            Like those sweet potatoes....never thought of doing them with cinnamon butter; do you sweeten it at all?

                            1. re: mamachef

                              No, mamachef, I don't sweeten the cinnamon butter. Just good cinnamon and unsalted butter. I love sweet potatoes, and to me it's a travesty to add sugar to such a wonderfully sweet tasting vegetable.
                              Unless you are making sweet potato pie. ;-)

                              1. re: jmcarthur8

                                I was hoping you'd say exactly that.

                          2. Definitely something cooked l-o-n-g and slow - either lamb shank in red wine and tomato or perhaps ox cheek in stout, either cooked several hours, accompanied by gratin dauphinoise and mangetouts fried in butter (we are assuming a nil calorie count in all of this, yes?!) and then a chewy, dense chocolate brownie. I think that's very 'square' as meals go, and I'd probably need all afternoon on the couch to get over it!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: flashria

                              Of course no calories, flashria!! These are square meals consumed by hardworking people!
                              Meanwhile, ox cheek? That sounds totally unctuous and wonderful. I imagine they're very close to my delicious friend the beef cheek, but maybe a little richer? Loving the answers here today!!

                            2. For all the wonderful things I've eaten in my life, when it gets down to it, it's my mom's meatloaf, with ketchup on top, a baked potato and a nice fresh out of the garden salad. Just that simple. Apple pie for dessert. Is this a square meal? I don't know, but it's certainly a soul meal...

                              Sweet thread, btw.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                Damn straight it's a square meal! It is whatever you think it is, totally subjective. One man's mealoaf is another man's personal croaking nightmare food, right?
                                :) glad you like the tthread.

                              2. Hi Mama...good to "see" you; thanks for starting a great thread:)
                                My "square" meals are repeats of other people's, with a few new ones added.
                                I would first repeat your choices, with a couple of twists.
                                My favorite meatloaf these days is Fine Cooking's cheddar stout meatloaf. With baked potatoes and sour cream (actually, ff greek yogurt) and green beans. Home made chocolate pudding for dessert.
                                Agree with the roast chicken as well. not sure where the recipe I use even came from, but it involves mixing olive oil and butter with rosemary, roasted garlic, salt and pepper and some lemon juice and rubbing the outside of the chicken, and putting the lemon halves inside the chicken and roasting at 425 for I think like 45 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken.
                                Roasted garlic mashed potatoes, made with buttermilk and grated parm-reg, and mashed butternut squash, and whole berry cranberry sauce. Crumb-topped apple pie with cheddar cheese crust topped with good vanilla ice cream for dessert.
                                My own mac and cheese, with spinach on the side.
                                My own tuna noodle casserole, with coleslaw on the side.
                                Chili with corn bread, and something chocolate (like brownies) for dessert.
                                Also spaghetti and meatballs, tossed or antipasto salad, good Italian bread, and canoli for dessert.
                                Two new ones we have been having lately:
                                Chicken leg quarters, braised with baby spinach, calmatta olives and roasted red peppers,sprinkled with feta, and served with my husband's crusty wheat bread.
                                Tonight's meal was actually also a "square: meal...chicken and dumplings. Glass of chardonnay:)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                  Pardon me while I try to wipe the jealous green off my jealous green face, girlfriend. Plus a million on everything you said.

                                  1. re: mamachef

                                    Thanks, mama. I truly am a fortunate woman to have so frequently experienced the "square meal." And those are just my winter time ones:) Now that my husband is retired, I pretty much get a square meal every night:)

                                2. First one that popped into my head,,,,,There are others but....

                                  Fried Chicken...
                                  Rice & Gravy.....
                                  Pink-Eye Purple Hull Peas....
                                  Slices and slices of Home grown tomatoes..
                                  Cold slices of Vidalia onion.....
                                  Pecan Pie.........

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                                    Uncle Bob, I get happy reading your posts. Thank you for your Southern taste and wisdom and hospitality.

                                    1. re: mamachef

                                      Awww Shucks Ma'am...It's just good gross-rees :)

                                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                                        Maybe so, Unca Bob. But I know food has to be cooked with heart for it to be any kind of good, so...............

                                  2. mamachef, your square meals all sound delicious until you added your desserts and then they became pentagonal. No, not that pentagon - yours is better! Make dessert, not war...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      What can I say, Veggo? I'm in an awfully wicked mood, but the upshot seems to be that I can't stop stuffing my face!! :)

                                    2. Do you know what? I'm not actually sure I can choose!

                                      I love everything from pot roast pork with baby potatoes (speciality in my local area) and veg to chicken breast with cous cous and roast 'summer' veg; roast leg of lamb; lasagne; spaghetti bolognese; cottage pie; lovely steak and trimmings; chicken chorizo and bean bake; stir fries; and who doesn't love a beautiful roast chicken?

                                      But the meal that reminds me of growing up is what my Grannie called 'phanaki'. I'm not sure where it came from but it's a type of stew she'd make for us when we were growing up and it involved sliced sausage (not sausages that you get in links from the butcher, but Scottish sliced sausage), fried in a pan then removed. Then you'd fry off some sliced onions, add the meat back to the pan and cover with lots of sliced potatoes. Season each layer with salt and pepper and pour over some hot water and leave to cook till the potatoes are soft and the juices are all mingling together and delish. Served with plenty of buttered plain bread. Not exactly healthy fare, but yum!

                                      What can I say, I'm a guzzler :-p

                                      14 Replies
                                      1. re: ellabakes

                                        Nah, in Yiddish we'd call you a "Fressor", just a good eater. You know, I can hear how that last dish resonates with you, especially emotionally. It's the kind of thing that was just right in the time and place,like some foods are...my grandma made pastrami, and there was nothing more delicious, and I've had some good and even great pastrami but there was never anything just like it ever again.

                                        1. re: mamachef

                                          I certainly am; my little one is the same. She'll devour anything with relish (not in the condiment sense!) and savour it.

                                          That's exactly what it is. And, like you said, I can make it till I'm blue in the face but it'll never taste like hers. Memories taste best!

                                          1. re: ellabakes

                                            How awesome!! You're raising a chowbaby!! How old is this little pixie?
                                            Great line, "memories taste best." Very lovely.

                                            1. re: mamachef

                                              She's five now and she's definitely one of us! I walked past her bedroom the other night and, instead of sleeping, she was sat up pouring over one of my recipe books. Lol.

                                              She was weaned on what we eat, a favourite being braised steak with mashed potatoes, mushrooms and onions - something her dad's dad couldn't understand: why waste that food on a baby!? Waste!! She loved it! And I do have to admit to chuckling when she wouldn't eat a jar of baby 'food' that his mother opened.

                                              She asked if she could make dinner the other night and I agreed. We settled on chow mein, not a really authentic recipe, but one that was easier for her to follow. She wrote down what she needed, walked around the shop basket in one hand, purse in the other and got what she needed. Then she stood patiently chopping (with scissors) and mixing the sauce. She of course proclaimed it the best meal she'd ever eaten.

                                              1. re: ellabakes

                                                What a wonderful handle you have on not condescending to "a child's palate." Of course some kids are real taste sensitive, but I don't believe that kids are naturally picky: maybe a little, but I do think that parents are sometimes "the guilty parties" (and the ones who get to deal with the repercussions or just plain pain-in-the-ass mealtime issues) who hypersensitize kids to the foods they "will" or "will not" eat. That being said, I raised my kids the same way, either by straining our regular food to the proper consistency or just chopping it fine when they were older, and not one was particularly picky, although my number two son did spend one year eating nothing but tofu dogs and jello with fruit and milk. I was very lucky to have the time to do that, though.
                                                Isn't it something how kids willingly eat something they've prepared but might not go near if they've had no hand in the preparation? I think it's awesome that you supported your daughter; she's clearly a foodie in the making and that's wonderful. Just enjoy her. The time flies, believe me. If you ever want some fun "square meal" recipes that are easy and fun for a child to prepare, do let me know. I think the chow mein, authentic or not, was a GREAT choice for a first meal. Bless both your hearts, and the rest of your family.

                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                  Was in the middle of replying to this earlier and my phone died. How annoying! It's probably best not to get me started on the subject of children's diets though, it's a subject very close to my heart :-)

                                                  I totally understand that some children are more sensitive to different tastes, particularly the strong ones. I watched a documentary not too long ago and they said there was a gene which dictated whether or not a person would like the really strong 'green' taste of brussels sprouts and other veggies like that. Some people find them so bitter, others (like my little one) can't get enough of them. I know, I really lucked out!

                                                  And I hate it when parents automatically say that their kids don't like a certain item - whether it's so that they don't have to spend the money or whether they can't be bothered. My cousin was having dinner at our house when she was around 15/16. My mum asked her if she liked pork and she answered by asking ' what's pork?'. She'd never been given it in case she liked it so that her parents didn't have to buy it.

                                                  Or when adults feed themselves the best of the best and serves their children rubbish. I actually read someone say once, I buy fish fingers from M&S for me and my husband and just buy the generic, guffy Tesco ones for the kids. My monster eats the same as I do! How do people think that their children will learn to eat properly if they've been brought up on nothing but junky food?

                                                  It's the pride on their little faces when they prepare a meal, isn't it? It's the best thing in the world.

                                                  Thank you very much - I would love it if you could give me some recipes for her. I know she would too!

                                                2. re: ellabakes

                                                  Oh, ellabakes, this brings a lump to my throat. What a lovely story. I can just picture your daughter with purse in one hand and basket in the other as she picked out the items she needed from her list. I imagine it was one of the best meals YOU'VE ever eaten as well. Thanks for sharing this.

                                                  1. re: schmoopy

                                                    Ah bless, yes it definitely was one of the best meals! Do you ever get the feeling where your loved ones are doing something, completely consumed (and if they're anything like my daughter, they'll have their tongue stuck out as well!), and when you look at them you just feel the biggest rush of love? Very proud mummy.

                                                    1. re: ellabakes

                                                      That's lovely, ellabakes. I have felt that feeling so many times, and it's so profound that it hurts like an ache sometimes.

                                                  2. re: ellabakes

                                                    Ellabakes - that story of your 5 year old making dinner is SO great! I bet it was wonderful chow mein, in the memory sense at least. She will never forget it:)

                                                    My mother gave me free reign to cook up a chowbaby storm from the time I showed interest at 5 or 6... by the time I was 10, I had a subscription to Bon Appetit, and got my first James Beard book from Dad for my 12th birthday.

                                                    Your daughter will have a life-long resource of knowledge, experience, and skills that she can make a living with if she chooses, or not; but she can teach others how to love food, cook and dine well and that will serve her and her family and friends always. Bravo to you!

                                                    1. re: gingershelley

                                                      I have to say, I'm really loving chowbaby.

                                                      I love hearing stories of other children who are interested in cooking. It's so inspiring! She's learning to read so obviously can't reel off a recipe yet, but I think I said further up the thread that I'd found her tucked up in bed looking at the pictures in my recipe books.

                                                      It's also much more than cooking in that they're learning math, reading, science and lots more without them realising.

                                                      I'm really glad I found this forum, you're all really lovely :-)

                                            2. re: ellabakes

                                              OMG we had those potatoes all the time when I was still liviing at home. And yes, we are of Scottish heritage.

                                              1. re: laliz

                                                They are fantastic, aren't they! Can also be made with bacon but that reminds me a bit more of a baked potato dish - potatoes boulangere. Makes more of a meal with the sausage, I think.

                                                In fact, I may have it for supper tonight!

                                            3. Interesting responses. I don't think meatloaf or roast chicken would come to mind for me. I also don't really think of "square meals" - maybe "comforting meals" or "no-nonsense-burp meals". A nice steak, for example, with rice cooked w/ basil or with cardamom+pistachios+fried shallots, plus green beans or similar. Or a big bowl of hearty stew w/ beef short ribs+carrots+onions+celery (maybe potatoes, but usually not). Or Bak Kut Teh with age tofu and sliced silken tofu with a big bowl of boiled white rice. Or Hainan chicken rice. Or simple egg fried rice with just chopped celery - especially when I'm tired or under-the-weather and feel like a "clean tasting" meal. Or an enormous bowl of linguine alla vongole (white, always!), or spaghetti with several big dollops of my homemade pesto genovese, either one with blanched romaine lettuce (a whole head) drizzled with Chinese oyster sauce. Hmm, I haven't had either pasta dish in a while... Or a big bowl of wontons in nice soup with blanched kai lan or choy sum; maybe with some wonton noodles as well. Heaping servings of soups (I like soup) of various sorts. Or a big plate/dish of siu mai and har kow, followed by roast pork buns and/or glutinous rice w/ pork/shiitake/whatnot filling and/or siu loong pow (xiao long bao), together with a bowl of some veggies in broth. Or I'll go get a whole (or a half) Chinese roast duck and just simply munch my way through it. Etc etc. :-)

                                              1. A big bowl of Chinese cold noodles with sesame sauce, julienned chicken strips, cucumbers, carrots, and garnished with a nice handful of scallions and chili peppers.


                                                Burger (homemade ground patty, brioche bun, lots of mustard and onions and dill pickles)

                                                Fried rice, tossed with ketchup, topped with an easy-over fried egg

                                                Mi-fen (or Taiwanese rice noodles) with a big bottle of Srirchaca.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Of late I've been eating fried rice (when I make it) with many large spoonfuls of homemade pickled sliced hot chilies...

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    I absolutely adore the noodles you're describing. I make mine with rice noodles, nuoc cham and add some chopped cilantro. And ketchup fried rice is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, innit?

                                                  2. come to think of it there are MANY other!!!

                                                    -cheese tortellini with shrimp and broccoli in alfredo sauce
                                                    -tomato mozzarella grilled cheese with a bowl of chunky veggie soup
                                                    -spicy veg chili w/ sweet cornbread
                                                    -baked white macaroni and cheese w/breadcrumbs
                                                    -green bean casserole (enough said)
                                                    -large baked potato with assorted toppings

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: chrissy1988

                                                      Traditional New Zealand roast dinner aka meat and three veg:
                                                      well-done leg of mutton, roast potatoes, glazed carrots and peas. Maybe gravy, but mint sauce is vital to cut through the fattiness. This is so old-school, it's practically new again! My nana woiuld be proud.
                                                      No pudding, please. Oh if I must, rhubarb and apple crumble with custard.

                                                      1. re: pippimac

                                                        That dinner is certainly "new again" in the UK, pippimac. It's the use of mutton, rather than lamb, that'll make it special. Mutton's something that's been out of fashion for years but is now making a welcome comeback. Gotta have gravy as well as mint sauce!

                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                          Here's a great one re: our conversation about sweeties, puddings and crumbles, Harters: I saw a recipe that actually used a sticky toffee pudding to make a trifle. Too rich for me, and a true bastardization but an interesting thought. Still, that pud's awfully rich already and dang..........

                                                        2. re: pippimac

                                                          Lovely; a Sunday joint meal. I've had and enjoyed mutton at the home of an expat. friend, and enjoyed the gaminess although that mint sauce was vital........and the one she served was a little different than the usual atrocious mint jelly for lamb (you know the stuff........it's the color of nothing in nature and is cloyingly sweet, w/ apologies to anyone who loves it.) Hers was quite vinegary and sweet and the mint was fresh. Really enjoyable. The rest of the menu followed yours to a "T", but she also served a Yorkshire-like pudding. (She had beef drippings from a previous roast - I don't think the mutton drippings would've been appropriate for this) and a fantastic rich gravy. Great meal, great times. Summer pudding for dessert, yum.

                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                            A "proper" Brit mint sauce comprises three things , IMO - mint, sugar and malt vinegar. You can make fancier ones but that's what Mum did, so that's what I do. It's supposed to be quite sharp, with a backnote edge of the sweet.

                                                            Mum's trifle is also how we usually still make it - although herself decided to be rebel at Christmas and used bought "swiss roll" as the base instead of trifle fingers

                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                              Oh, so that WAS classic. Thank you for clarifying. Now I know why I loved it so much...malt vinegar is one of my favorite flavors, and I didn't identify it as that..
                                                              Harters. Swiss rolls? Really? Did they absorb? It seems to me that the chocolate coating would hamper that.....

                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                No choccie usually on a swiss roll. It's a thinnish flat sponge that you slather with raspberry jam and roll up (or, as Mrs H did - you pop down the local supermarket and buy one). You slice and line the base of the serving bowl. Slosh on copious quantities of sweet sherry, top with fruit. Mum always used to use tinned peaches but herself, heretic that she is, used raspberries. Pour over raspberry jelly (jello?). Top that with heart-stopping quantities of whipped cream and sprinkle on what we Brits call "hundreds and thousands" and a few more raspberries.

                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                  oh, it's over. I'm giving a tea for my daughter in later March and this is going to be part of it. if I can't find someone to make me a swiss roll, I'll make it myself. In fact, I'll make it myself anyway!! Oh, I can't wait! Thank you, this will be an unexpected suprise.

                                                        3. re: chrissy1988

                                                          This is what I love about the people who respond to threads like this. There's so much diversity!! See, to my mom, a square meal is a bowl of soup, a cup of coffee and a cracker or two; you love cheesy soupy meals (OMG so do I) and to others it's the usual four (meat potato veg dessert) and nothing else will do!!
                                                          (I love green bean casserrole..........topped with a ton of sliced almonds. Don't tell.)

                                                        4. Since I don't like to foist my great aunt's hot potato salad on the unsuspecting during the holidays, I reserve them for when I spend the time to splurge on something very nice to roast, like a New York roast that I've vacusealed when prices are low, a turkey breast, etc. Splurging to me is not always about the cost in money, either, but the cost in time, since it'll be a totally self-indulgent stay-at-home day.

                                                          We only had hot potato salad at Christmas as this was my great aunt's signature dish when we ate there every year in their beautiful redwood creekside home in Saratoga, CA, nestled down in a forest of their own. The dish is simple, just mashed potatoes with hot white vinegar added in during the initial mash, then finely chopped white onion and parsley added with the butter, finished with a final few stirs of cream when the chopped hard boiled eggs were added.

                                                          The last time I made it it was paired with a pork roast and gravy with IKEA's lingonberry preserves, brussels sprouts with butter and bacon, finished with a blackberry cobbler and vanilla ice cream from berries picked that morning not more than 50 paces from my front door.

                                                          I was stuffed, but it was pure heaven, certainly a square meal, while accompanied by memories of simpler times.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: RelishPDX

                                                            That's a beauty, and I'm making your version of the salad. The one I've made for years is steaming-hot sliced potatoes dressed with bacon grease, vinegar and sugar and seasoned with salt, pepper, parsley and a bit of chervil. Great stuff, but it sounds more sweet/sour than yours and then there's how the potatoes are prepared, and yours sounds delicious, especially since the entree was a bit sweet. I could eat that all day long. Thanks!!

                                                          2. I'm vegetarian, so mine won't feature meat. But mine are all homey dishes...

                                                            Vegetarian gumbo (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...
                                                            )Mushroom bourguignon (http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/01/mus...
                                                            )Spaghetti with homemade sauce and large slow-sauteed mushrooms (replaces meatballs); served with some outstanding garlic bread

                                                            These are my ideas of satisfying comfort-ish square meals.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: IndyGirl

                                                              They sound delicious and just as comforting and square as anything else, IndyGirl!! I love meat but I love vegetarian food too!!

                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                Thank you!! Maybe I will start a thread on vegetarian comfort food that mimics "real" or traditional comfort food, but does it well .. (All of the recipes I listed are very successful at this... perfect for a saturday afternoon at the end of a heinous week at work!)

                                                            2. The very words "Square Meal" take me back to the past, when my mother served a salad, meat, starch, green veg & usually another veg, and a light, fruit-based dessert (or the somewhat-dreaded tapioca pud with a spot of jam that I tried to make last through every bite of the fish eyes).

                                                              However, the definitive Square Meal was our not-every-Sunday thrill of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, the best gravy in the world, mashed potatoes, peas, carrots, and a special dessert, say, apple pie with sharp cheddar.....YUM!!!! And then when it was all done, my dad & I would have a final bite of the beef. Good memories.

                                                              Nowadays, it'd probably be a one-pot Vietnamese dish, or maybe brown rice vegetarian sushi.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: shygirl

                                                                I bet the most wonderful bite on those Sundays was that last niblet of beef w/ your dad. Awwww.

                                                              2. Square Meal Vegan style: I made a Portobello Mushroom sauce poured over Mushroom Meatloaf and sliced potatoes with peas. No dessert though. I should make this more often.

                                                                I also like a good Vegan Cottage pie. Obviously not authentic but is good. I like to serve it with Red Leicester cheese (not Vegan) on the side, instead of over the mashed potatoes.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: alergkvegtarian

                                                                  Hi-I would love the mushroom meatloaf and mushroom sauce recipes! I also make a meatloaf knockoff---in the form of nutloaf with a roasted-garlic gravy and garlic mashed potatoes. Another one I should have added above!

                                                                  1. re: alergkvegtarian

                                                                    How do you make the Cottage Pie? I've been invited to a vegan potluck and I'd like to take that, if you don't mind sharing the recipe. :)

                                                                  2. Hi, Marci -

                                                                    Normally, it would be some kind of pasta, either Lasagne Bolognese, or when I'm lazy, Cavatappi Bolognese (made Lasagne-style w/Besciamella and Bolognese). Plus a green vegetable done up with raisins, garlic, Balsamic, EVOO, and (a few Italian) pine nuts.

                                                                    But this month, my Square Meal is Chicken Paprikash, made with thighs, according to the Joy of Cooking recipe from the 1973 trade paperback. However, I am also going to try the recipes in the 1990s Joy and the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. It makes plenty of paprika/sour cream gravy, and I put that on mashed potatoes or egg noodles, and the same green contorno, or else a salad. You need a little something w/vinegar to cut through the thick paprika/sour cream/chicken flavor.

                                                                    What a nice thread.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                      Hi, Jay!
                                                                      Glad you like the thread!! So many of these responses are heartwarming and all of them are making me pretty hungry..........what I GET for putting it out there....
                                                                      The Paprikash sounds divine. When I make a sour-creamy sauce, I HAVE to have egg noodles, for some reason....mashed potatoes don't cut it for me. I use the mash with things like sweet and sour meatballs and medium egg noodles for Stroganovs and Paprikash and, um, (trampy little confession) noodles mixed with cottage or ricotta cheese and topped with a good spoonful of sour cream and then cinnamon sugar or brown sugar. There. It's out. I feel better. (Blows nose.) Actually the real reason I wrote other than to stay on the post and think about it and salivate is to suggest a great cucumber salad? I LOVE that with sour-creamy stuff. Just thinly-sliced peeled cukes of any type, in an oil/vinegar/sugar/dill/parsley/chervil/etc. and allowed to marinate; great by itself or combined with shredded lettuce and maybe some bias-cut celery? Awesome; almost like a sunumono but not........and the perfect foil for the richness. You can even cut oranges into rounds and combine with the cukes. Good times.........

                                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                                        You know, Marci, I'd never eaten it with mashed potatoes until this time, but I found them surprisingly good. They just have to be cooked a little more than I usually do. Lumps, which I normally adore, just don't work here. I love noodles, too, here. I wonder if I'd like cinnamon or brown sugar with them (it does make sense to give them a little more sour cream, now that you mention it).

                                                                        I'd definitely like a cucumber salad with this meal; I'll try it next time, with dill. Thanks so much for the suggestion.

                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                          Well now I've got to try it.......it's probably just my preconditioning that says "this goes with THIS" and yadda yadda yadda. I sound like some old Count in some Chateaux somewhere: "But you know we always have ze feesh wiz ze speeeenach.:
                                                                          Lighten up, Marce

                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                            I have to admit to the noodle fix with sour cream sauces, myself. I know people put rice or mashed potatoes with them, but I just can't do it. Even if it was delicious, I'd still feel like it was missing something.
                                                                            Fortunately I have a family of noodle lovers, so the subject of a choice never comes up.

                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                              I'm going to be making it a lot this winter. Trying new JOC and Fannie Farmer next, so I'll have lots of occasions to try diff. sides.

                                                                      2. Husleves - Hungarian beef soup which was our typical Sunday main meal.

                                                                        A good slab of beef shank was slowly simmered with chunks of root vegetables - celery, carrot , kholarabi and parsnip, plus parsley and peppercorns. Towards the end potatoes were added.

                                                                        The soup was strained and returned to heat where liver dumplings were added, or the soup was added directly to the plate to previously boiled, finely cut or other egg noodles.

                                                                        Enough soup? - good, bring on the boiled-out veggies and tap the marrow. Marrow was spread on rye bread, salted and divvied up.

                                                                        Veggies and beef were then doled out and served. The meat was stringy, the veggies spent, but there was still a subtle taste, texture and pleasure there. Especially if there was tomato "martas" as an accompaniment. Dessert was simple pastry - kifli, beigli or sponge roll.

                                                                        I loved Mondays.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: DockPotato

                                                                          I would have loved Mondays at your house too, DockPotato!! it sounds like a heartwarming family meal; nothing fancy, but nourishing and tasty. The marrow alone would've been enough for me!!
                                                                          Your Husleves sounds a great deal like something our family ate - Tafelspitz, which was basically the same thing served the same way. I guess every culture has its' boiled beef, no matter what it's called. Thanks for sharing.

                                                                        2. Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, cream gravy, corn on the cob, greens with pepper vinegar, tomato/cuke/sweet onion salad.

                                                                          Smoked mullet, hot German potato salad, sliced Bermuda onions, sliced perfect tomatoes, slaw.

                                                                          No dessert, I'd rather have seconds!

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                                            Uncle Bob already answered, and as soon as I saw the first line I knew it had to be you!! :)

                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                              My ex's Mother was an amazing Texas girl from San Antonio. She would whip up the chicken fried steak dinner, but it would also include more salads: a garden (green) salad, a fruit salad and a potato salad, and probably some corn bread of some sort (skillet, lacy or hush puppies).

                                                                              There used to be a great many little "shacks" along the water ways in my childhood where you could pick up live blue crabs or smoked mullet. When the tomatoes were good my father would call home on Saturday and ask my mother to prepare slaw and be ready with the potato salad. He'd bring home the mullet, tomatoes and Bermuda onions and a luncheon feast would begin. Smoked mullet is quite oily so everyone needs to eat it together - 'cos you will keep the aroma about you the rest of the day. Very popular with the four-legged purring sect...

                                                                          2. Browned then slow braised elk short loin ribs with a red wine/unsalted butter reduction, with finely chopped fresh sage/ Yukon gold /roasted garlic creamy mashed potatoes, baton cut new nantes carrots with a zested lemon and truffle oil (yes I know there's really no such thing but I use the oil very sparingly anyway) berre blanc. Fresh fruit and cheese for dessert. The red 'house wine' is home made by an old Portuguese man we trade with. Even a year old it still has a hint of effervescence when decanted.
                                                                            I served this meal to some friends a while back. One of the guests said to my wife: "Do you always eat like this"? My wife replied: "Pretty much".

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                                                              What a lovely menu, and what a happy wife you must have!

                                                                            2. Pork chops, new-season apples fried in the drippings (or applesauce from those apples), cold boiled potatoes sliced and fried in butter. Green salad with "things in" -- sliced radishes, little green pepper, cucumbers, cut-up tomatoes, your choice of bottled dressing. Pie. Maybe Dutch apple pie, maybe pie from summer fruit kept for fall pies.
                                                                              Mom food.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                Me likey. Me want right now. Not MY mom's food; yours.

                                                                              2. Ribeye, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, pan roasted asparagus, and a mixed green salad. Beer for prepping the food, wine to accompany, and scotch for dessert.

                                                                                So simple, so quick, so tasty. I might not do this dinner weekly, but it's close.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. The favorite would be the Sunday supper standby when I was a kid.

                                                                                  Salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and onion, all home-grown, dressed simply with olive oil and vinegar.

                                                                                  A really good NY strip sourced from the local steakhouse that my dad frequented that was owned by a guy "from the neighborhood" he'd known all his life. He had his own cattle.

                                                                                  My grandmother's potato salad -- basic mayo/mustard style, but she always made a separate batch without the the hard-boiled eggs for me and dad (not hard-boiled egg people, and she couldn't imagine the horror of having her sainted and only son pick through to remove the egg).

                                                                                  For dessert? Fresh corn on the cob. Eaten out on the back porch, screened to protect from skeeters.

                                                                                  I was in high school before I realized not everyone (read NO ONE) ate corn as dessert.

                                                                                  We lived pretty far north, so summer twilight seemed to go on forever.

                                                                                  1. My square meal happens only 4-5 times per year, but it's a lil slice of heaven when it does.

                                                                                    Chicken fried steak breaded with crushed saltine crackers, mashed potatoes with buttermilk and an obscene amount of butter, cream gravy with the crunchy bits from the steak, green beans cooked with garlic, bacon, and onions. Sometimes corn. Bread will be either rolls or biscuits. Growing up my Granny would only ever buy white bread to tear into pieces and cover with gravy as an extra side to the meal. Dessert is hopefully coconut cream pie, but more often growing up it was banana pudding.

                                                                                    A slightly more often square meal for me is hamburger goulash with fried thin sliced potatoes with onions. Fried damn near in a single layer with a touch of bacon grease for flavor. Takes forever, but it's is worth it in the end.

                                                                                    And as a nod to my New Mexican family, my most often four square meal cooked maybe every 2 months or so is flat cheese enchiladas with green chile. Fresh pinto beans on the side to sop up the extra chile from the enchiladas. Now that's some good eatin'!

                                                                                    Sliced or chopped sweet onion served with all of these meals.

                                                                                    1. Porterhouse rare, baked or grilled asparagus, iceberg wedge w/homemade blue cheese dressing, homemade chocolate pudding or pralines & cream (Baskin Robbins) ice cream

                                                                                      1. pizza + gelato (preferably pistachio or lemone). Couldn't be happier.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Novelli

                                                                                          Ah, a simple man of simple tastes. Your dinner sounds good to me!! It's the kind of thing I'd do while i was couch-and-channel surfing - a heathen thin-crust pizza, double pepperoni, well-done, fresh tomatoes on after. My gelato would be peach. Ooooh nice dinner.