When the economy went south in 2008, Suzan Colón turned to her family's time-tested recipes to pick herself up—and save some money. She recounts the stories behind those dishes in her new memoir, Cherries in Winter (Doubleday). O asked her to recommend what to eat in a variety of tough situations.

Job loss: Spaghetti and meatballs. "You need a meal that's cheap but cheerful—a slight indulgence, but not too extravagant. And a big bowl of pasta will help you sleep so you won't be up all night fretting about money."

Fight with your best friend: Cupcakes. "Baking for someone is a nice gesture, so give your friend her favorite flavor. It's really difficult to be angry when confronted with a cupcake."

Death of a loved one: Lasagna. "When a neighbor loses someone, I always bring over a big pan of lasagna. If they have company, it provides enough to go around. If they're alone, they don't have to think about dinner for a week. It's a universal comfort food."

Breakup: A hamburger. "The first night, have a burger with the works: cheese, bacon, onions, and possibly French fries. But the next day, eat heathy food and go to the gym —looking better than you did during the relationship is just delicious."

Read an excerpt from from Cherries in Winter , and get the recipe for one of Colón's favorite comfort foods: clam chowder


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