It may be the harshest of seasons, but winter extends a warm welcome to those of us who would add a new entry to our collection of “feel-good” recipes. Just like the heat of the summer leads to sun-ripened tomatoes, cold weather is the promise of comfort food.
It is amazing that with the shifting of the seasons how we gravitate to the stove and oven to produce simmering soups or stews, fresh baked bread or an apple pie. All the warm fuzzies of comfort! In winter everything takes on a less urgent perspective. Now we have time for yeast dough to rise or the beans to bake.
Comfort food generally is food that often provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling. The nostalgic element most comfort foods provide is either specific to the person or to a specific culture. Maybe that is why most comfort foods are served around the holidays bringing back memories of long ago times.
And, it seems to me, that comfort foods appeal precisely because they aren't everyday dishes. By keeping them “special”, perhaps we give them with the ability to surprise and delight us time and time again. The fear is that somehow these comfort foods will become causalities of our modern life.
Sometimes, comfort cooking can take some getting used to. We no longer live in a time where our routines revolve around the rhythms of the kitchen. You know. . get up, stoke the wood stove, put on a pot of coffee and start the biscuits. We all are busier than bees and sometimes our longing for comfort foods from our own kitchen is at odds with our needs for convenience and the demands of the clock. And, maybe that is not a bad thing.
Winter affords us the opportunity to dust off the bread pans, potato mashers, and crockery slow cookers – and press them into service as the days unfold. No, piping hot cocoa or hearty casserole fresh from the oven won’t make all the women strong, all the men good looking and all the children above average as they say at Lake Wobegon. But comfort foods sure are special and put a warm glow in our hearts, as well as our stomachs.