Hearth and Heart

It is officially that particular time of year for anyone residing in the northern hemisphere. The daylight hours are fewer and the temperatures are cooler. For most, preparation for the barrage of winter storms is underway. The desire to feel warm and cozy is a natural reaction to winter solstice and I welcome it (from my not so terribly cold perch in Southern California).

There’s no use trying to calorie count or calculate fat grams. Now is not the time for strict and narrow diet plans. The only thing that matters is warmth and comfort. As much as I love fruit smoothies and green juices during spring and summer, something different is required when there is a chill in the air.

Roasted chicken with baby potatoes

I’m not really a picky eater except it must be understood that flavor will always matter. With this in mind, there is no better cure for the winter blues than something roasted or something stewed. How can you go wrong? It’s foolproof. The warm and spicy aromas wafting through my tiny apartment make me kind of happy.

I can’t say I’ve ever had this reaction to a meal that’s ordered in. But then, I’m not one to order in. If I were, I would hope it would be on the level of what Grace Kelly nonchalantly procured for Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window.

A full dinner from “21″ is nothing to sneeze at.

Vegetable soup

That said, everything that comes from my kitchen has a rustic sensibility. I’m not a trained cook but I know flavors and I know what tastes good. There is nothing in my freezer but ice and nothing in my refrigerator but the necessities. Milk, cheese, eggs, water.

I would dare anyone to find containers of leftover Chinese takeout or the remains of a pepperoni pizza in my fridge. I always have cans of whole tomatoes, tomato paste, flour, rice and grains in the pantry.

A Le Creuset casserole is currently housed on the lower shelf of the fridge. In it is what’s left of a most accidental vegetable soup. The kind of soup made up of whatever is in the crisper draw. This kind of soup is always the best because it’s never made the same way twice.

During the winter months, more than at any other time, my kitchen is for cooking. The heat of the burners is not my enemy, as in summer. There is no rush to turn off the stove so there is time for flavors to develop and my mouth to water.

And I have time to give thanks.


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