Monday, October 19, 2009

When in doubt - cook!


I've been thinking back lately to my early twenties. Most of my friends were just making do in those days. Money was tight, and since it was yet another recession, most of us were satisfied if we had a job, even if it didn't pay much.

And yet, we were happy.

I have always had the kind of home with plenty of cooking. It really doesn't take much to make a house a home - just the smell of good cooking. It wafts out the doors and makes people want to come inside. I remember one year I was cooking a meatloaf on Halloween, and people kept asking me what smelled so good, peering around me, when I opened the door to hand out candy. It was the smell of home cooking.

I think that no matter where you live, or how little time you have, you should know how to cook. Today was rainy and a bit snowy, and we were feeling a little down. That tends to happen when you read the news. So I decided to cook my grandmother's 'kniphla and saurkraut' dinner. It didn't take long, and the house was full of yummy smells. Browning onions have a way of upping the good smell quotient.

It wasn't long before I was thinking about a holiday brunch that I want to have sometime in early December. I was starting to feel better. Looking forward to things, people, the holidays.

Cooking is deeply ingrained in our psyche. It is how our forefathers and ancestors nurtured their families and friends. It brings people together in a very basic way. It's important.

So instead of going out next week when we drive, yet again, to Sacramento, to go to a Comedy Club for my brother's never ending birthday celebration, I'm going to cook. I'll take all the ingredients, my pans, my knives, and I will cook him a good German dinner before we go out. I know he will love it, and I know the neighbors will stop by if they smell it. Plus he will have leftovers the next day, and all for around $10 in ingredients. One thing my grandmother's family knew how to do was stretch food dollars. Big families ate little meat, but the cooking was usually outstanding.

In these recessionary times, if you haven't already, think about cooking. If you don't know how, then watch the Food Network, or get a cookbook from the library, one of many outstanding food blogs, or online. It doesn't have to be fancy. Some of the best food is easy and inexpensive. It makes us feel good, and our friends and family appreciate being nurtured these days.

Do you have a family recipe that is comforting?

34 comments:

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Comfort food. Comes in handy sometimes. I think you nailed it with meatloaf. The house indeed smells fabulous when meatloaf is baking. Also spagetti sauce cooking for hours. Chili and other hearty soups conjure up good feelings. Mashed potatoes and gravy. I can go on and on.

Lori ann said...

Oh Nancy, you've brought up a sore spot for me these days. I have to learn how to cook for two now. The last of my three children left home, recently. It's going to take some getting used to in so many ways!
i love to make a big pot of soup and homemade bread, that always seems to make everyone happy.

TheChicGeek said...

I love to cook. It is a wonderful way to bring people together and share fun times, love, friendship. My daughter is getting ready to go to Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts School! I think we will be having some yummy things at my house :D

Happy Day, Nancy!

Big Hug!

Hilary said...

You're so right about that. Cooking and its wonderful smells and tastes are indeed a basic comfort. I tend to overdo quantities which still works out because my son will take leftovers to work. Tis the season for soups and stews.. sigh.. there goes the diet. :)

Mazhar Hussain Shah said...

I find the valuable information is provided by you.
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Marlene said...

Nancy..I so agree..we have a group of friends that go to each others house for dinners each week sometimes 2 times a week.We all take turns hosting..and I have learned soo many recipies and am eating much healthier..My favorite when I host is make your own pizza..We provide a homemade crust and sauce..we place buffet style in serving dishes everything you can think of to add from vegi , meats, chesses ect...) then we all make our own then bake...its one of the most requested dinners from our group everyone enjoys it..we no longer look forward to going out cus to so fun looking forward to each others dinners!

Bon'O said...

What are the odds? I just pulled up your blog, Nancy, moments after removing six mini-meatloaves from the oven! As they were baking (for the freezer), I was online all the while with FB friends, discussing and sharing favorite autumn comfort food recipes. 'Tis the season for dutch ovens and crockpots!

Paula said...

Hmm, first I was intrigued by "kniphla and saurkraut" - obvioulsy as I am German and wonder what "kniphla" is? Food and cooking - like you said - was important to our forefathers and even today it holds its importance, particularly if you dont have any!
My attitude towards cooking, food, and cultural/ economic differences I learned on various ways: I walked with the bushmen for 6 weeks in the Southern Kalahari - food wasnt there in abundance, their way they shared and survivied was incredible. I crossed the Atlantic on a yacht - 22 days - cooking was restricted by all means by the kind of food I could store, by the weight how I stored, it need to be nutrious and needed to be made fast as time was short. Yepp, 2 people taking turns in sleeping/chores and being on watch doesnt leave a lot of time. 8 years in Spain taught me to gather my own herbs and asparagus, the abundance of the Mediterranean diet. I love it. My fav dish however I one I discovered 2 years ago with my partner being American but having German ancestors: I found an old recipe served in the area of his origin. We still like it both.
And here is a wonderful lady I would like you to introduce:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuMkW35BwK8

Hava wonderful day.

Natalie said...

Oh! Me too! I love to cook. We have many little meal 'celebrations and rituals'. My grannies taught me to cook plentiful, nutritious meals on a shoestring, and i mainly cook those ones for our comfort food.I tend to do more fancy meals when the kids aren't home. :D xx♥

Brian Miller said...

i married an amazing cook...we hardly if even eat out. mmm,,,the smell of meatloaf...

Rain said...

Hi Nancy! I laughed when you mentioned your brother's never ending b-day party, ha ha! I LOVE cooking! I took a break lately, just from the move and the oven here isn't too great, but I move over to the big cottage on November 1st and it has a great large and full kitchen! I'm a slow cooker too, it's torture smelling the food cooking all day! And guess what? Me being so suggestible, I'm getting myself a bread maker, lol...your post the other day got me drooling so much. The aroma of onions cooking, yes...that the aroma of home cooking for me! I don't have any family recipes, but I do make Shepherd's Pie all the time, it's comforting and inexpensive. It does remind me of supper at my grandfather's!

Joanne said...

I'm not a great cook, but there are a few basic recipes that are so comforting, probably the most being breaded chicken cutlets with roasted peppers :)

The Good Cook said...

I'm thinking I probably don't have to tell you how I feel about this post but I will anyway, MARVELOUS.

BTW - A recent study suggests that in families that sit down and eat dinner together at least 4 times a week, the kids have higher IQ's...

Home Cooking - good for the soul, good for the brain!

Sylvia said...

Oh, yes! I love cooking and I do it in my moments of distress. But the recession doesn't go well with good cooking. Here, we need tones of money to prepare a good nmeal for the family. A friend of mine who is in the US says that food is rather cheap there. That's excellent.

Gaston Studio said...

I hardly ever cook anymore, that's is my daughter's job which was determined when we decided to live together. My job is to clean and this is how I release builtup stress. I can completely lose myself in cleaning and find I feel much better about everything after it's done. But I love a good, moist meatloaf!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Just talking about cooking makes me hungry! You do this to me every time with these photos of food you post!

Reya Mellicker said...

Browning onions definitely does up the good smells, oh yeah!

Making a house a home includes good smells and comfortable upholstery. That has always been my standard way of measuring.

I'm going to cook today, too. Don't know what ... something good.

Enjoy the snow!

ellen abbott said...

Browning onions with some garlic thrown in...can't beat it. When the grandkids come, they all want me to make meatloaf.

DJan said...

I think any kind of soup simmering on the stove, with good old-fashioned bread with a nice crust on it is the very best "comfort food" in the world! I don't cook much, my hubby does the majority, but I do occasionally make a nice soup.

Leah J. Utas said...

I am so grateful I had the sense to learn to cook, and even moreso that I learned to bake. You are so right about the warm, comforting fragrance imparted by food you've put together yourself.

GYPSYWOMAN said...

i've known since we first "met" that you were my soulsister - and this post just absolutely clinches it!!! and so ironic, your post, because my daughters and i were having the same identical conversation this past weekend! and on that note, i went out and bought several bunches of collard greens, a big boston butt pork roast and stoneground yellow corn meal for hot water cornbread! all for about $10 - the smell of the pork roast covered in garlic [with secret ingredients of soy sauce and good ole louisiana hot sauce] permeated the house - when the roast was done, i put the chopped greens in the roast pan and cooked them in all the goodies from the roast - added a bit more hot sauce and soy sauce - then made a huge batch of hot water corn bread straight from louisiana! girl, it was so good! but the main thing was in the DOING of it all - both my daughters and their little ones came to eat - and we all sat and reminisced of days of yore - and how the simplest littlest things meant the most - like when i was in undergrad school and with five children, had to make the most of every thing - but some of their happiest memories were from that time - when a simple dinner of homemade wholewheat bread and fruit and cheese was a divine experience - or just having my university friends over where everyone brought something to eat and we sat up all night munching and discussing ways to make the world a better place - and the kids were always allowed to come and be a part of all of that - anyway, your post brought back to focus the things of real importance to us all -

Marguerite said...

I love to cook and my favorite comfort food would have to be a big pot of gumbo with rice and potato salad, and some good French bread. Cest bon, cher!

Jeninacide said...

Cooking keeps me sane. I have been doing a TON OF IT.

Emom said...

thank you....sweet hubbie has been out of work for over a year...was with company 35 years, and they went under...so we do the comfort food thing constantly, tuna casserole, mac and cheese, baked chicken (w/rosemary, yum!), BLT's, homemade pulled pork BBQ (carolina style)....all of it so easy, and yet so satisfying...thank you for reminding me how important it is...smiles.

California Girl said...

When the boys were young, I made them taste everything on their plate. They didn't have to eat it all but they had to try it. As youngin's they shunned onions and mushrooms, avocado and tomatoes. They learned to like the stronger veggies, like broccoli and brussel sprouts, by having cheese sauce on them.

Now, they eat absolutely everything. They have wonderful appetites and are willing to try new things. This didn't happen overnight. They evolved.

Food is part of life and it should be enjoyable and an adventure. It doesn't cost alot to make a nice dish... just time and love.

susan said...

I cook every day and I'm not bad at it but my favorite thing is to bake with chocolate - deep, dark and rich :-)

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Even i love cooking !! This article is so worth reading !! Nice..Unseen Rajasthan

Ruth said...

You're barking up my tree today. After a long day at work we are both tired and think we don't want to cook. But we can keep it simple, and we know it's far better than eating out.

You are so right about cooking onions, nothing smells better.

It's cool how the Food network has lots of people starting to cook who weren't into it before. We learn by watching.

Mental P Mama said...

I don't think there's a better smell than onions in the skillet...I love turkey and cornbread dressing on days like that.

Delwyn said...

Hi Nancy

I agree with you about the importance of home cooking. I believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home and the kitchen table is the place to share and nourish the soul...

Happy days

Deborah said...

I have learned to really appreciate cooking now that I have a partner who also likes to cook - having someone to do it with makes it more pleasurable and creative. Plus, where I live now (France) the fresh vegetables and fruit are so much better than in Canada, where our produce is often shipped from California or Florida.
Favourite recipe? My mom used to make lighter-than-air tapioca pudding. served up with thick slice of whole-wheat bread for a special supper now and then when my dad was on the road and we were alone.

~JarieLyn~ said...

Hi Nancy,

I enjoyed reading this post. I agree that cooking is a very important part of life and bringing people together. Some of my fondest memories with my grandparents are in the kitchen.

I love to cook. I do my best to plan out a menu for the entire week but that doesn't always work out. However, I do cook something every single day.

Our favorite comfort foods include meatloaf, chili, chicken & rice, biscuits and gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy.....anything with gravy. I cook a lot of spicy foods such as enchiladas, enchilada casseroles, tacos, taco casseroles, chili, etc. My husband likes anything that resembles mexican food. My favorites are southern cooked foods like fried okra and chicken fried steak. All the fattening stuff.

Recently I have been getting a lot of recipes from other bloggers. I also watch the food network and buy food magazines like crazy.

~JarieLyn~ said...

Oh, I would love for you to post your german recipe.

Phoebe Miriah Kirby said...

Oh cooking! How I love you!

:) I'm enjoying my oven and husband, who eagerly eats anything I put in front of him. He's smitten with my food, even if other people aren't.

I baked homemade pumpkin and oatmeal cookies last night. To die for.