November 11, 2010 § Leave a comment
The other night I finally got around to cooking with a butternut squash I bought two weeks ago. I had experimented with this oddly formed gourd before, in a disastrous soup recipe with my friend Alison. I don’t blame the butternut; all the flavors just didn’t work together. Plus, it turned out a really unattractive color that one usually associates with illnesses that keep you at home for a few days.
Anyway, this time I was inspired, as I often am, by the Barefoot Contessa and her recipe for Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash. Not having any saffron on hand (and not being sure that I actually like saffron), I went with thyme instead.
My experience with risottos is that they need a little babysitting, but they pay off fantastically in the end.
I got what I was craving: a creamy, slightly sweet, chewy bowl of warmth with a bit of a tang from parmesan cheese.
And, it got me thinking about comfort. Every person probably has different thoughts on what qualifies and what is their personal favorite, but, for me, most comfort foods share warmth in common. Macaroni and cheese, white chili, buttermilk biscuits, steak and potatoes, chicken and orzo soup, gumbo…
Sure, a crisp salad or bowl of ice cream can be just the thing in summer, but when I think of comfort, I crave the coziness that comes from blankets and fires and hot beverages.
Perhaps comfort food is even more comforting this time of year, as the weather cools or downright freezes in some places.
Yet, this is one of my favorite times of year. The smells, the bite in the air that nibbles your nose, the richness of color, the literal closeness to friends and family (who wants to snuggle on the couch at the height of summer?)—all delight me.
So, I’m savoring it. And, while I may miss all the beautiful blueberries and plump tomatoes of summer, I know they’ll be back soon.