Comfortably Complicated

I got a new cookbook. I love reading cookbooks, especially those with stories. This particular one is filled with things a real person in a real kitchen can cook for a real family. From scrambled eggs to roasted chicken to perfect hamburgers to seared scallops, there isn’t a bad recipe in the bunch.

I noticed something while I flipped through the pages and glanced at techniques and tools and anecdotes. The ones I stopped at first, the ones that caught my eye and I had to read from title to end, were those mysterious favorites – comfort foods. It was the stews and roasts, the turkey and mac and cheese that called to me. And not because they were my favorites.

A simple grilled salmon with a warm mustard sauce is probably the best thing I make and the most satisfying thing I eat. Yet the salmon recipe and all the other fish recipes waited for a later perusal. I’ve been known to work chicken into an entire week of meals. Chicken enchiladas, fried chicken, chicken salad all were passed by. What is a summer weekend without hamburgers on the grill? And there I think I figured out why the secrets behind the best burger stayed hidden.

It is the season for comfort. If I was reading this book for the first time in spring I might be reading of the versatile veggies. Summertime reading would lean toward that aforementioned hamburger and salmon. The dead of winter will be a good time to explore the bread and pizza recipes. But now, when the first frosts coat the world outside your window and the high temperatures are lower than the daily low temperatures of just a month ago, now is the time we look to warmth and comfort in our dinners. As the days grow shorter and the leaves turn and fall we seek out the meals that fill our homes with delightful scents and delectable platefuls.

They will be plenty of time to try out the new versions of grilled shrimp. This week I’ll work on some butternut squash soup.

That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?

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