Thursday, October 18, 2012

What a Crock

Having grown up in New England, it should come as no surprise that autumn is my favorite season. I love seeing the first pop of red at the top of a maple tree, I love the way the sun glows on all the brightly-colored trees along Route 128, I love the smell of fresh mulch and burning leaves, I love the crunch of crisp fallen leaves underfoot, I love the pumpkins and huge pots of mums that suddenly pop up on doorsteps everywhere. But one of the things I love the most about autumn is cooking.

My mom was a great comfort food cook. She taught me to make wonderful casseroles, meatloaf, stew, and pasta sauces. And most importantly, she taught me how to use a crock pot. I love cooking with a crock pot. I think one of the things I like best about cooking in a crock pot is that it makes the house smell wonderful, not just at suppertime but all day long. It builds the anticipation from lunchtime on, giving you little hints about the wonderful meal to come. The scent of garlic, of thyme, of bay leaves, of chicken stock, of smoky ham or spicy sausage or earthy lentils. It smells like love, and it smells like home.

My dad worked the same job for over 40 years, and we had supper as soon as he came home from work at 5:00. So every night, he would walk in the door to the smell of something delicious coming out of the oven (or the crockpot). It was like a little welcome home present every night. When I was a little older and my mom got home from work at the same time that my dad did, she would leave me nearly-finished meals to add the final touches to. I would pop the lasagna or the shepherd’s pie into the oven; I would stir a few extra herbs into the simmering sauce in the crockpot; I would bake the cornbread or the biscuits. And whenever I did, I felt like I was giving both my parents that same welcome home present at the end of a long, tiring day.

This may sound like a very old-fashioned attitude, but I love to be able to give my husband that same welcome home present. I know how hard he works, and I like to show him that I appreciate his hard work. So I hope that every night when he comes home from work, he can smell in my cooking the same love my mom cooked up for my dad.

It might not work for everyone, but for me, cooking for my family makes my house feel more like a home.

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