During the heat of summer, I don’t do a lot of cooking. Turning on the stove – or, God forbid, the oven – on a scorching August day is akin to torture. I usually cook only for myself, so I tend to do a lot of preparing rather than cooking, especially when it’s hot.
But when the days shorten and the nights turn cold – worse, the days, like yesterday, when it’s wet and raw – I retreat inside and head to the kitchen. I want comfort food: warm nourishing dishes that fill me up and warm me up. If there are plenty of leftovers, so much the better – I can throw together a delicious, healthy lunch in the morning or come home and have dinner ready in a snap. Soup really is good food, especially when it’s homemade.
My appetite is good any time of year, but evolution does me in when it’s cold. My body packs it in and packs it on, forgetting that there’s Gortex and down available and I don’t need the extra body fat to survive the months of cold and dark ahead.
A part of most every one of my fall and winter weekends is set aside for cooking. Sundays, mostly, although Saturday I made tuna salad that, in a sandwich, will pair with the butternut squash soup I made yesterday for at least two meals this week. Last evening’s creation was a vegetarian shepherd’s pie, a recipe from the cafeteria at work. It didn’t turn out quite like I expected, but I love the stuff, and so I’ll try it again with a few tweaks (more time at a slightly higher temperature, less milk in the mashed potatoes).
I have gobs of recipes, culled from newspapers and websites, clipped from magazines and awaiting a more permanent spot on a 4×6 index card. At the moment, they’re a mess: out of order, flopping cardless or just plain missing. Where did I put the bread recipe that I discovered last winter, when I was getting flour in my farm share and started baking again? I still have whole wheat and rye in the freezer, along with some white bread flour.
Taking half a weekend day to prepare food for the week knocks several other things from my to-do list. But washing my windows doesn’t nourish my soul. What nourishes yours?