Thursday, December 16, 2010

A little soul food.

Last evening, I had the extremely good fortune to share a meal with four of the best friends a girl could ever have. We are a group that has come together over the past 20 years or so and I can say, with no small amount of gratitude, that they have seen me through the very toughest of times. As anyone of midlife already knows (and the rest of you will find out), life is full of ups and downs, of sickness and health, of snow and sun. You can't always do anything about whatever is swirling around you at those times, but you can, if you're lucky, find some hearty souls who'll stand by you until the dust settles. If you're very, very lucky, they'll show up on your door with food on the day you think your world has ended and you'll never be hungry again, but oh how good things taste when there's love cooked in. They'll tell you how good you look even when your highlights, for various reasons, are 6 months old and your pants are new because none of the old ones fit. They'll bring you chocolate and prayers and hugs when you need them most. And they'll just seem to know when that is, even if you don't.

I'll show you a picture of them one day soon, but last night we were having so much fun, nobody thought of it. See all the chocolate?

Today I am back home, two hours away from my best friends, and outside there is ice and snow everywhere and the sky is a cold blue. Some very basic instinct in me must have known tonight would settle heavily, because this morning I thought to put a pot of brown beans on the stove to simmer all day. On another burner, I sauteed garlic, onions and kale and added vegetable stock again and again as the emerald greens braised gently down in their pot. Being a tad lazy and melancholy but craving still more comfort food as suppertime approached, I passed on the traditional cornbread that accompanies soup beans in this part of the world and poured a quarter-cup of grits into a cup of boiling water, instead. After about 5 minutes of slow simmering, I added to this a handful of sharp cheddar and a shaving of Asiago cheese and stirred. As someone very smart once said, "I just want something out of a bowl," and tonight I poured soupy beans into one bowl, spooned a layer of cheese grits in the other and ladled kale and broth on top of that, and sat down in front of "You've Got Mail."

Everywhere in the world, every culture has some form of comfort food. Whether you remember the smell of it in your mother's kitchen, there was a time of hunger that was finally satisfied, or perhaps a happy memory of eating with folks you love, we all have food memories.

For my friends and me, we always seem to gather around chips and salsa, margaritas and handsome waiters. My mother and her mother strengthened their families with what they could grow and preserve themselves, so it's no surprise that my go-to comfort meal would include basics like beans and greens. Tonight I'm just missing my friends and trying to keep warm. But if the holidays are starting to get to you, you think you'll never get the shopping done or the tree decorated, or everyone's coming to your house for Christmas dinner, or perhaps your boss is a bit of a Scrooge - I hope you'll stop for a few minutes and think of something (or someone) that makes you feel warm inside and feed that hungry soul of yours.♥


  1. Checking to see why Blogger isn't accepting comments...

  2. Dear, Dear Friend - you bring joy to many memories even though many were tough and very trying on us all, it's still all worked together like a fine tapestry to get you where you are now, and that's a good thing. And YUM!!!! I will definitely be trying the grits - Asiago cheese - what an interesting combination - just wishing I'd been there to share those bowls with ya! and there's always chips, salsa and margueritas just down the road :). Great job!!

  3. It is so important to have good friends in life. It is also great that you get together and have fun.

  4. That was a wonderful evening! I'm grateful for having found a group of women that I can share life's successes and sorrows with, and my only wish is that we could do it more often. And I'm going to have to try the cheesy grits soon! Looks perfect for a snowy evening.

  5. A bowl full of soul in your writing and recipe. I feel warmer already!