Comfort food is not only for cold winter nights or rainy autumn days. There is comfort in summer bright tomatoes, juicy ripe peaches and cooking to warm up your heart or ground you in that okay place. I’ve meaning to update this blog in the last few weeks but didn’t have the heart to. We, my husband, his family and mine were battling a fight we could not win. My father in law, my father number 2 and my husband’s best friend and band mate of 30+ years passed away from complications of cancer. He fought with dignity up until the very last moments. When I tell people he was 93 years old, the response is "wow, he had a great life!". Yes, he did. He was lucky to meet his life partner 73 years ago and be married for 71 years. Yes, he did so many wonderful things with and for his family. Yes. No, it doesn’t diminish the void we all feel. While we rejoiced we were lucky to have him this long, we wished for more. As we, humans, usually do.
I went back to Charleston to be there for my family. I cooked meals, listened to stories. I have been in this dreadful place before and I could anticipate reactions and emotions and offer a listening heart and a warm hand. I got back to Birmingham while my husband stayed in Charleston for a little while longer. It’s me and one of the dogs. My days are busy at work with long days of really fun shoots (working on the new Ball canning book right now is pure joy) but evenings can feel a little long at times. Especially toward the end of the week when all the week’s pressure and work start to take a toll on my mind and body. Thursdays have started to become my comfort food days.
Slow baked salmon on top of pasta with lots of pesto and tomatoes, roasted veggies to go on top of a farro salad, bright vibrant greens with grilled shrimp, lots of lemon and pepper. And garlic. Always a ton of garlic. That’s true comfort to me.
Before I left for Charleston, I had purchased at the farmers market a load of wild mushrooms that I sauteed with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Shitakes, chanterelles, lion’s mane, golden and grey oyster mushrooms. Unsure of timing with the family, I froze my concoction for a later meal. I already had it it my head to preserve the integrity of the mushrooms by adding them, as they were now, to a simple dish of pasta with more garlic and lots of parsley. Something that always reminds me of home, simple days, shared meals and comforting food.
Here it is, one of my favorite meals, to eat alone or share (always better) when things don’t seem all that great. It will make you sit down and reminisce, bringing a flow of memories you did not expect but will most certainly welcome and indulge. I know I will tonight.