I am about ready for spring to muscle in and shove winter out the door. I want to open windows and replace my heavy wool sweaters with cotton cardis. I want to start some seeds and plan my summer salads. But, no. It is going to persist in being cold and chilly and winter-y here when we get that extra day in February for Leap Year.
This Leap Year there will be no slathering on the SPF 35 before going out to weed the back flower bed. Nope. It’s back in the kitchen to foster love and warm bellies with winter-defying foods.We find comfort in all manner of rituals and gestures. These being precarious times, we are seeking the simplest and most expedient comforts. I’ll meet you in the kitchen.
I spent a lazy couple of hours sitting at the kitchen counter on Sunday watching Mr. Friday preparing a spaghetti sauce. He contently puttered around the kitchen, listening to Dave Brubeck, rolling out meatballs, cooking sausage, browning meat, and mincing garlic all while stirring a vat of tomato sauce. He didn’t consult a cookbook or perform due diligence online with the many cooking experts’ websites. He has been making this sauce for years, remembering watching his mother while she cooked it. It is a memory he relishes, and it is a calming, comforting exercise for both of us.
The vast lasagne he then assembled was enough to feed six for two meals. Except there are just two of us these days, which meant a lot of scrambling around for Tupperware which could then be color-coded and accurately labeled for freezer storage. As we fell on the steaming hot lasagne (and the mountain range of garlic bread, and the jungle of salad) I basked in Mr. Friday’s affectionate gesture. There is nothing like the stupefying feeling of too much pasta to wear away at the edginess that is just a little too much winter.
And this weekend my answer will be this: I am going to make a big pot of chili, because it is going to make me feel warm and cosy.
We are strictly a no beans chili family. There are reasons. And one dog does not cover everyone’s sins. That being said, we do enjoy chili.
One of my favorite New York Times writers, Alex Witchel, has two amusing chili recipes: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013822-one-hour-texas-chili Never underestimate a recipe that includes Fritos as a major ingredient. I like the depth the chocolate brings to this version of chili: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1012951-the-general-store-chili And I have always been a sucker for hot, buttery corn bread, too.
The Pioneer Woman, enjoying many creature comforts denied to the Ingalls family, has a lovely, bean-y chili recipe. I do love it when I have all the ingredients tucked away already, and don’t have to run to the grocery store. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/simple-perfect-chili-recipe.html
Epicurious does a grand Texas chili that does not have beans! It is spicy, though. I like a recipe that is better the next day, because if I make enough of it, we will be able to eat it for dinner a couple of times during the week. Then I can have Fritos one night and hot, butter-dripping cornbread the next. Perfecto! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/our-favorite-texas-beef-chili-51249010
You can buy a bag of Fritos, but here is our own kitchen god’s recipe for corn bread. Thank you, Mark Bittman: https://grassfedcow.com/recipes/mark-bittmans-corn-bread/
Enjoy some Leap Year merriment. Do not eat frogs’ legs. Please. Enjoy some Stag’s Leap wine instead. Here are some helpful hints: https://www.tastingtable.com/cook/national/leap-day-2016-recipe-ideas-leap-year-party
“I am the kind of person who really will drive hours for a bowl of chili. I’m not a three-star restaurant kind of a person; I’m just a food person.”