Cooking and Coping

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Things seem to be getting slowly better, but it sure seems like small steps, doesn’t it? I am still enjoying the Cooking and Coping Facebook group and am delighted to see so many people returning to the kitchen, or stepping in for the first time. It is a productive and healthy way to spend the time.

As I noted before, the focus seems to be on comfort food, and why not? Who couldn’t use a little more comfort in their life these days? I have always enjoyed cooking, but it seems so different now. When things first started getting bad, I was into baking, bread and pizza dough mostly, then I went retro and was making a lot of things that I enjoyed as a kid, like a baloney and peanut butter sandwich. Pretty weird, right? But it is surprisingly good. I have also made quite a bit of cornbread, peas and beans and greens, always served with my favorite chow-chow recipe of course, but now, I am getting serious about comfort food. My kind of comfort food.

When I was a kid, I loved my mother’s meatballs and spaghetti, probably because she told me she made it just for me. Over the years I have worked on my own recipe and am pretty proud of what I have come up with. I dropped the meatballs years ago, and so it is truly a bolognese sauce, that rich, long cooked tomato and beef sauce that I think is nothing short of divine. I make mine spicy, adding red pepper flakes, and a variety of medium hot peppers too. I always add half a bottle of a good dry red wine (you do remember the ruse about cooking with wine? Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink!). The last batch of sauce I made just the other day, I added a diced squash from my garden. You might be surprised at how well a yellow squash pairs with the rich tomato sauce.  The whole thing simmer for several hours and makes the house smell so good.

But what about the pasta? Linguine, or spaghetti is always goof, but my favorite is pappardelle. It is a wider noodle and when cooked just right, just a bit chewy. And I prefer the pappardelle made with spinach, it has more depth and complexity, I think. The Italians like to remind us that a dish like this is supposed to be about the pasta, and the sauce should be an accompaniment. I often defer to what the Italians think, but no this time. I want to load my pasta with sauce and lots of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

This has been a beautiful, and long lasting spring. I made bolognese again last night, and as it is always better the next day, I am going to sit in my back yard this evening, have a glass of good red wine, and enjoy my favorite meal!

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Written by Julian Brunt

Julian Brunt is a food and travel writer that has been writing about the food culture of the Deep South for ten years. He is the eleventh generation of his family to live in the South, grew up in Europe, traveled extensively for the first fifteen years after graduating from the University of Maryland, University Collage, Heidelberg, Germany. Today he writes not only for Jackson County Home, but Okra Magazine, Mississippi Today, Mississippi Magazine, eat.drink.Mississippi and the Sun Herald News Paper and has appeared on the Grodan Ramsey TV show, To Hell and Back in 24 Hours.

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