The question: Can I cook? Depends on who you ask. I have a limited amount of things that I can cook well but they are not difficult or gourmet by anyone’s standards. The things I do cook or bake are very GOOD. I can make a lovely roast chicken with herbs and lemon, or a brisket (as good as my mom’s,) home-made macaroni and cheese, an old fashioned meatloaf, a fabulous pea soup with tender morsels of carefully chopped up honey ham or Canadian bacon, chicken soup, baked ziti, Nonna’s meatballs, a home-made tomato sauce learned from Ba, and I bake an awesome banana bread with raisins and chocolate chips. Not a chef by any means but a simple, home cooking mom that likes to cook with music playing in the background. Nothing complicated, simple, fresh, and easy. Come on over, we share.
It is so harmfully cold outside, the temperatures are low and the winds are high so that it makes me not want to leave the coziness of my house. Recuperating from a nasty bout of bronchitis, yesterday I made my chicken soup, starting in the morning with chicken and onions, a carton of frozen peas, a bag of carrots, pepper flakes, a shake or two of salt and slowly simmering it all day long. Making soup is comforting both when I eat it but also when I prepare it. I’m not sure why; I can bake brownies but it doesn’t have that same calming effect.
Tomorrow, I will go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make pea soup: a bag of dried peas in their cozy mesh sack, with pieces of ham steak that I will slice on the diagonal, chopped carrots, celery and onions. There is nothing like comfort than a bowl of soup on a cold winter night. It’s not as if my mother or grandmother ever made home-made soup when I was a child, actually my mother did make her own chicken soup, I remember that. Maybe my love for soup started there. We also had tomato soup (Campbells) from the can where we would add half a can of water and half a can of milk and we would float a slice or two of Kraft American cheese on top. When we got older we crumbled those little packets of crackers, Saltines, and we would wind up with a lovely blend of gooey goodness. Mushroom soup too, from Campbells, was always a big hit, made with milk as well.
I will drape a navy blue shawl around my shoulders and sit at the black pearl counter top on a stool by myself. My bowl of soup steaming in front of me, my dog at my feet. The chilliness outside the door forgotten as soon as I settle myself and get the right spoon and the right bowl for my home-made dinner of thick pea soup, made with love. A gift to my family and to myself.