Cooking is therapeutic for me. My Mom and my Grandma were both wonderful cooks, and they taught me well. During highly stressful or emotional times in my life I cooked. I baked. I created. There’s something comforting about planning a meal, gathering all of the ingredients, chopping, sautéing, adding layers of flavor, savoring the delicious scents of work in progress, and finally sitting down to enjoy the results. Then there’s the positive feedback. What a concept: from idea to finished product, and then positive reinforcement within a few hours.
Cooking was a release during my 2+ years on a never-ending project in NJ (hardest job that I’ve ever loved), during [several] recoveries from heartbreaks, and solace from loneliness during my first year in the Pacific Northwest.
Some of my friends have said that people “don’t appreciate how much work” goes into making each soup for our almost-annual Soup Parties. That may be true. A few of them have been witness to the whole chicken-stock-making process. But making and consuming good chicken soup is the ultimate comfort. “Jewish Penicillin”, the magic elixir, can fix a myriad of issues.
Years ago, I was in Key West with my best friend Allan when one of his closest friends was admitted to the hospital with HIV-related pneumonia. While Allan rushed George to the hospital, I got to work. Chicken, onions, carrots, celery, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves, salt…. When Allan got home he informed me that chicken soup was not going to fix this. I burst into tears and told him the soup wasn’t for George. It was for me.
There’s a reason that the Chicken Soup for the Soul books are top sellers. Comfort “food” for the Soul…. But chicken soup cannot fix the battering that over 65 million people have just experienced. 65,844,610 to be exact. I’m trying not to use pejorative terms for the voters who somehow found a bloviating pathological liar to be better for our democracy than a woman who by every test ~ EVERY test ~ is the most qualified person to be President in our 240-year history.
And what did I do after November 8th? I got to work. Just like I did in the 1990’s, I made soup. SO much soup. (This is only a fraction of it….)
But the joy that I’ve always gotten from cooking was missing. I found myself shaking my head in disbelief, growling (literally growling) at the stupidity, screaming at the top of my [very powerful] lungs, singing (karaoke-ing actually) “I Am Woman“, also at the top of my lungs.
As Christmas approached, I switched to baking. I made a dozen Christmas rings, several dozen butterhorns, several (8) batches of gluten-free and gluten-full dough.
Now that the holidays are over and we’ve been on the road for the past 2 weeks, I haven’t done a lot of cooking. I suspect that there will be a lot of comfort-cooking going on for the next few years. Stay tuned, my friends. Recipes on the horizon. In the meantime, I’m ordering spices from Penzey’s and following their mantra: Love People. Cook Them Tasty Food.
Chicken Soup may not fix the catastrophes that lie ahead, but at least we’ll have the strength to fight for our ideals. And sharing meals with people who choose love and kindness over hatred will soothe our battered souls.