The Kind of Day to Curl Up or Cook

There is something about a cold (well, frigid) day. The sun can be out, but the wind is cold. Your heaviest parka isn’t enough to keep all that cold wind from digging its icy fingers down your neck and into your socks. You’d like to go for a walk, but you fear you would turn into a creaking, cracking human-sicle if you did.

So, what instead? A good book and a cup of strong coffee with maybe a cookie to go with it? Wrapping Christmas gifts early? Brushing your pets (who make it pretty clear that they don’t wish to be brushed)? For me, it’s usually cooking.

Funny, when I was living with my parents, Mom would beg me to cook with her. At the time, I had zero interest in it. I knew it would have made her happy if I shared her love of cooking, but at the time it wasn’t anything I was interested in doing.

But that was then, this is now. These days I really enjoy cooking. Yesterday was definitely a day to make shepherd’s pie, one of the Crankee Yankee’s favorites. Mine, too, actually. I had all the ingredients; ground lamb, potatoes, onions, carrots, creamed corn (personally I like the touch of sweetness it adds), beef broth, and so on. It’s just one of those hearty and delicious dishes that are perfect for a cold day.

I also enjoy baking; bread, cookies, brownies, pies, apple crisp, and so on. Then there are the holiday favorites, such as my grandmother’s seafood chowder. We always called it “Christmas chowder,” because it was always the Christmas Eve supper. My grandmother would save coins and one dollar bills throughout the year in order to buy all the expensive ingredients for that chowder; lobster, crab, oysters, clams, fish, scallops, shrimp and a small bottle of good sherry.

It was a tradition that we all loved. On the cold dark of Christmas Eve, the icy stars winked and glittered as we drove to my grandparents’ house. When we walked in, the heavenly scent of that chowder warmed us to our bones. Along with it was my grandmother’s homemade watermelon pickles, and Mom’s homemade Parker House rolls.

So, this being another bright but cold day, it’s another excuse to cook, bake, or just curl up with a good book and a cat on my lap. Today’s lunch will be the heart-warming chicken soup I made a few days ago, with a side salad made with cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet onions and a sprinkle of feta cheese.

As my late great mother-in-law would have said about the chicken soup, “it couldn’t hurt!”



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