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Food and Comfort

This past Friday marked the end of a very stressful and sad week. On the up side, I got out of work early due to the holiday weekend, and once home, I found myself thinking about food.

This is nothing particularly unusual. I’m not one of those people who loses their appetite when depressed or emotionally stressed. In younger years, I would eat in those situations, wanting the temporary relief that food brought, especially sugary/fatty foods.

These days, though, I’ve found another way to comfort myself with food: baking and cooking.

Friday night, for instance, I didn’t have energy to do anything that required much thought, but I also felt the need to do something that might possibly help others in my life who were struggling with difficult times. I planned to get some things while out grocery shopping to make burritos, but I didn’t want to go out to the store that night.

That’s when I decided to make chocolate chip cookies.

Unlike the burritos, I pretty much always have ingredients for these on-hand. This is also one of the few recipes I know by heart, a method of preparation learned from my dad over twenty years ago. Clearly, it therefore required little mental or emotional energy.

In fact, as I melted butter, measured sugar, stirred in chips. I started relaxing, slowly but surely. I appreciated the caramel color of the batter, the scent of chocolate and vanilla extract, the familiar ritual of scooping the dough onto the sheets.

As they baked, filling the house with that wonderful, warm aroma, I kept remembering all the good times associated with chocolate chip cookies. Having them on camping trips, munching them while gathered around a fire. Making them for people I used to work with who adored them (see my post about Boston food connections). Being amused by how astonished college roommates were with the concept of making cookies (or anything) from scratch instead of something pre-packaged.

And then, of course, I had a cookie, as soon as it was cool enough to eat, the chocolate still gooey and the cookie soft and moist. It gave me the perfect bite, and a bright note in an otherwise tough day.

8-30-14 Chocolate chip cookies.jpg

Then I packaged a bunch up for family and friends, stuck some in the freezer, and kept out a few for myself to savor one – or maybe two – at a time over the coming week. Each time will bring back good memories, which I’ll enjoy, just as I enjoyed the act of making them.

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