The days are shorter, darker and colder. Work has been stressful lately. You haven’t had much time for proper meals. Maybe you’ve been eating out a lot. All you want is a cosy evening at home, with people you love, eating food that’s familiar and comforting.
Cooking is not just about nutrition. We feed our bodies as well as we can, but our souls also need attention. Comfort food brings back the memories of childhood, that feeling we had when we knew we were safe and taken care of. At the family dinner table, dishes were predictable and soothing. Nothing fancy, just simple satisfying fare that parents chose because it was easy to prepare and sure to be finished by even the pickiest eater in the family.
When the weather is cold, or when you feel out of sorts, it’s time for stews, baked casseroles and heart-warming soups. After coming in from the rain, finding a hot dinner on the table is such a relief. All-in-one dishes where flavours fuse together in a rich sauce, or baked pasta covered in a delicious crunchy-gooey layer of cheese: that’s what’s needed to lift spirits and reduce stress.
And don’t forget desserts or breakfast foods. Rice pudding, custard, porridge or fruit crumble will make your guests feel like everything is right with the world…
To find those dishes you grew up with, search using key words such as stew, casserole or pudding. You can narrow your search by limiting active or total time. After all, the cook should also enjoy the comfort of not having to labour long in the kitchen. And if the recipe is a little different from your mother’s, maybe it’s an improvement on your childhood classic. Or simply adapt the recipe to your preference, adding Mum’s secret ingredient. Make it the way you like it.
When you are feeling a little bit more adventurous, why not try foods that are considered comforting in other cultures? After serving them a few times, your family will learn to associate these flavours with home. In no time they will develop nostalgia for your homemade version of Chinese dumplings, mushroom risotto or beef stew.