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Snow, cabin fever and food

photo by John Spink - AJC

photo by John Spink - AJC

I guess I was one of the lucky ones. I was near my office in Dunwoody on Tuesday afternoon when it started to snow. But I got a bad feeling. I was coming down with a case of the cruds, my kid’s school would surely let out early, and the meeting I was supposed to attend seemed skippable. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to head home early,” I told my supervisor over the phone from the car. No problemo, she said.

The two-hour-plus commute back to Decatur wasn’t fun, but little did I know what was coming. Unlike my colleagues who spent the night in the office or on the road, I had it easy. I lay under the covers with a box of Kleenex and a laptop and reported on those restaurants and bars that closed up early and those that stayed open. Mostly I retweeted. It wasn’t the lord’s work, but it seemed to strike a chord with people around town.

Why do people so desperately want to go out to eat in a snowstorm? Isn’t that the time to cook?

When I was a kid growing up in Maryland, I lived on the neighborhood’s best sledding street. It was dead-end on both sides and descended down three hills. The top, steepest hill was a sure bet, as was the second one, waiting there to speed you up  just as you started to slow. In an epic storm that dumped fine, packable snow you would have enough momentum after the second hill to cruise past the four-five houses along a flat stretch until you hit the third hill. That one would deposit you in a glorious wipeout in a snowbank.

No-knead bread

No-knead bread

After sledding in the morning, I’d come home to the smell of baking bread. That was my mother’s thing. She’d get the dough started at the crack of dawn to have it ready for the neighborhood kids who knew to look for it at our house.

I had no intention of making bread, but by the time we all got home on Tuesday afternoon and realized we were snowbound, I decided to take a Twitter break and find an old recipe for white sandwich bread. We had some vegetables and frozen stock, so I made a cream of cauliflower soup to go with it.

I thought the bread was terrible — too dense, with texture that turned gummy and a hard crust. My kid loved it. That night I mixed the ingredients for New York baker Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread and served it for a late lunch with a chicken stew. I thought it was 100 times better than the first loaf; my kid dismissively said “it tastes like something from Alon’s. The other one tasted like homemade bread.” Whatever.

By that night I was sick of cooking and wanted to go out. My wife couldn’t understand the feeling, since our fridge was filled with good leftovers. But it was a strong feeling. I didn’t want to be stuck in the house anymore, I didn’t want to cook or clean, I didn’t want to eat my own cooking. I wanted someone to feed me. So we walked down to our favorite hangout, Leon’s Full Service, and I had a beer and a pork chop.

When the weather is weird and uncomfortable, you want someone to take care of you. The urge is strong.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

10 comments Add your comment

Tea Party Patriot

February 3rd, 2014
2:19 pm

It sure was slippery out there last week

Baltisraul....

February 3rd, 2014
2:34 pm

John, we made chicken and dumplings. Great cold weather meal. We had everything in the pantry or freezer so we only had to walk down to Lilly’s liquor store for Budweiser.

Ned Ludd

February 3rd, 2014
3:06 pm

Pork shoulder in the Big Green Egg on the deck with a chimnea (and Pappy Van Winkle) to keep us warm.

Hungry Gringo

February 3rd, 2014
3:21 pm

In 2011, I had a Yankee friend pick me up to eat lunch at Fox Bros, but this time around it was leftover quinoa and Trader Joe’s curry packs.

Baltisraul....

February 3rd, 2014
4:23 pm

Ned….I have always wanted a BGE. Since I gave my smoker away to my daughter, I will be in the market this spring. I had decided to get the Smoke-It #2 but now you brought back that old itch! We will see………………….

Ned Ludd

February 3rd, 2014
4:43 pm

Good Balt,—- you can participate in Eggstravaganza next year! —Few people realize the BGE was invented and originally marketed by Ed Fisher in Tucker, Ga. Friend of my fathers. Love mine but still have grill for burgers, etc. They are on Lawrenceville Hwy. now.

Logical Dude

February 3rd, 2014
4:43 pm

“Why do people so desperately want to go out to eat in a snowstorm? ”

All the bread and milk were sold out at the stores?

Ned Ludd

February 3rd, 2014
4:49 pm

And before someone chimes in nonsensically, I know he did not ‘invent’ it. he perfected and modernized a product long popular in the orient.

Baltisraul....

February 4th, 2014
2:41 am

Ned ….I will always have a Weber charcoal grill. It is about the only thing in my house that makes me look good. You have to be a real bad griller to make a mistake on the ole Weber. I am on my 4th one since 1977. Damn things last forever!

art

February 4th, 2014
9:40 am

I was fortunate enough to have a limited work schedule so I cooked for a good solid 3 or 4 days… split pea soup with ham, cream of tomato soup, chicken noodle soup, several pizzas from scratch, a smoked pork butt on my pellet smoker… Aside from making a liquor run for some bourbon, I’ve been pretty content staying at home. May order some Chinese delivery tonight. I need some more plastic containers for all of the leftover soup.