Cooking is a big deal at our house. We cook everyday. Sometimes, the meals are simple, and sometimes they are very involved.
My love for cooking started as a kid. My mom is an amazing cook. I grew up in a house that always smelled like an irresistible meal was on the stove. It wasn’t uncommon for my mom’s students and parents to comment on how yummy our house smelled. They were right! It always did. (Still does when I go home!)
One of my favorites at home as a kid was chicken soup. It was comforting and warm.
This week, as the news cycle spun itself completely out of control I took to planning meals that bring joy, comfort, and nostalgia.
We plan all of our meals. Before we shop we make a meal plan for 7-10 days. This week, as shown on our menu board, we have an array of comfort foods. While this isn’t what our meal plans always look like, this week, it seemed right. When its a kids weekend (Thursday night dinner-Sunday afternoon) our meals take on a different vibe than when its just the two of us. For instance, we planned mac’n cheese and veggies for Thursday after school. Burgers and cupcakes for the birthday celebration.
Chicken soup for Sunday. Broccoli and quinoa casserole for Monday night. Noticing a theme? All comfort food.
Now, comfort food means different things to different people. For me, comfort foods include meals from my childhood. My mom wouldn’t let us eat blue box mac, so she always made it from scratch. So, guess what I do? I make artisan mac with asiago cheese, sharp cheddar, white cheddar, and parmesan. ½ the kids liked it, so that’s a win.
Obviously, for the birthday celebration we needed a homerun for the children. Honestly, the adults needed a guaranteed win too. Let’s face it, cooking for children can be a real challenge, especially when they are your stepchildren. The food is different than at the other house, and that’s ok. But, sometimes you just need one thing to go well and to be comforting for all. So, we made burgers on the charcoal grill. The grilling method turned out to be nostalgic not only for me, but my father in law as well.
In addition to my mom being an amazing cook, my dad was great at grilling. Being outside with him at the charcoal grill was always fun, and it smelled amazing. He would have us help prep the meat and bring it out to him. We would also be the ones to bring the dirty plates and platters in and out of the house. The smell of a charcoal grill is a smell of my upbringing. Hence, the burgers.
Why am I writing about food planning and prep? For starters, it is simple, yet comforting to me. This week in particular has been full of disastrous news. It seems like everywhere you turn right now there is some sort of calamity going on. To combat the calamity I turned to two sources this week: the kitchen and Tara Brach.
She, interestingly, spoke about social media and our addictions to the internet. In addition, she discussed setting boundaries for screen time and discussed the importance of not being in reaction. Instead of being in reaction, we can be in the present. For me, I get to be present in the kitchen. It’s the meals I cook, the way I cook them, and who I cook them for. Cooking reminds me how a simple meal can mean so much, especially when we share it with others.
In conclusion, I attribute my comfort surrounding planning and preparing meals to the security it brought to me as a child. Meals are something I remember the most about my childhood. (Meals and playing in “Barbie World” in our pepto bismol pink basement with my sister Cason…but that’s a story for another day.)
What do we do in times of crises and uncertainty?
What about you?