Warning: array_slice() expects parameter 1 to be array, boolean given in /home/uvatha/public_html/kayhoflander/wp-content/plugins/my-twitter-widget/widget.php on line 164

Warning: key() expects parameter 1 to be array, null given in /home/uvatha/public_html/kayhoflander/wp-content/plugins/my-twitter-widget/widget.php on line 164

Tag Archive: January

Jan 28

Comfort food is more than just food

Food is the most primitive form of comfort. –Sheila Graham, columnist and author

Last January, I wrote my column about comfort food. This January, comfort food is all I am thinking about once again. I remember foods my mother and grandmother made, and that is reason enough to want them.

Cookbook author Molly Wizenberg explains, better than I, why we want comfort foods from our past.

“When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It’s also a way of getting at something else; who we are, who we have been and who we want to be (From “A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, 2009”).

I am not the only one thinking about comfort food. Just this week in fact, some friends invited us to a “comfort food dinner”, and we jumped at the chance. What a great idea, I thought. It is miserably cold outside, the skies are gray, and we are moping around the house with S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder—lack of sunshine). What could be better than comfort food to make us feel better.

Our hosts served a dinner menu that turned out to be exactly what I used to eat when I was a child. Food from the 50s and 60s, and I was in heaven or at the very least in time warp. Our hosts said that they think food is not about impressing people but more about making them feel comfortable, and that is exactly what happened.

Their menu from the past:
Old-fashioned pork roast, just like my grandma’s. Baked apples served on the side, cooked with cinnamon and Red Hots candy, just like they served decades ago at my elementary school cafeteria. Baked macaroni and cheese, all crusty on the top and sides that tasted exactly like my aunt’s. Warm cherry pie with the crumbly top, same as Mom used to make.

What can one do after a meal like that but sit down in an easy chair and sigh.

And dream about walking home from school on Monday (bread baking day) and smelling the waft of my grandmother’s baked bread and cinnamon rolls from as far away as the street corner. I long for my mom’s hot tapioca pudding whipped fluffy with egg whites that she made for Sunday dinner, and my dad’s unique cornbread-sausage stuffing recipe he made on Thanksgiving Day.

“Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort,” said Norman Kolpas, cookbook author and editor.

In a harsh winter and in an unsure world, comfort me with food any old day.

Jan 07

January— month of empty pockets and no sun

Sidonie Gabrielle, celebrated 19th century French novelist, deemed January “the month of empty pockets” and suggested about all we can do is “endure this evil month.”

It is also the month of little or no sun.

But surely there are reasons to enjoy the month. Surely?

I am not so sure there will be many reasons this year, however, because AccuWeather.com forecasters are saying this could be the worst winter in 25 years. “It’ll be like the great winters of the ’60s and ’70s,” said AccuWeather.com Chief Meteorologist and Expert Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi.

That’s cheery news. Not only are most of us typically broke in January, but we have no sun to warm us. Wonderful.

Consider that we are just a mere fortnight away from what we now recall as a lovely, sunny Christmas Day. The bad news–there is a long, long way to go yet before the gray, dreary month of January ends.

After researching the word January, mostly due to a moderate-to-serious bout of cabin fever, I learned that the word January in Roman mythology means the “door to the year”, which is, granted, a favorable description.

However, in Finnish, January means “the heart of winter”, and in Czech, the month is called “leden” or ice month.

In Ukranian, January means the month of cutting or slicing, referring perhaps to the bitter winds of January. And in the 16th century, some European countries named January First as the “Feast of the Circumcision.” I am not even going there or explain why they did that.

Ice month. Cutting-slicing-circumcision month.

You get my point.

Yet I wonder, are there any good reasons at all to celebrate this overcast and dismal month, the coldest month of the year in the northern hemisphere?

A few: January white sales, discounts on exercise classes, cheap gym memberships and diet books galore.

I also found quite a few holidays, special occasions and birthdays that cheered me up a bit and made me realize January has some high spots indeed.

• Birthdays to celebrate and remember, such as those of Benjamin Franklin and Martin Luther King. And special commemorative days honoring heroes such as Christa McAuliffe of Challenger fame and Amelia Earhart are January high spots.

• National Thank You month (we can’t thank folks enough and good to highlight on our calendars).

• Epiphany–a commemorative Christian observance I don’t want to forget.

• Plough Sunday. I didn’t know about this holiday until I researched it. Plough Sunday is celebrated in England in January as the beginning of the agricultural year. I get that.

• Chinese New Year (the second new moon after the Winter Solstice and a lively holiday to boost our spirits). Take out any one?

• National Book Month–a great month to stay inside and read. Love it.

• The 100th Day of School Month (teachers and students are going to “thumbs up” this occasion), but it doesn’t float my boat much.

• And finally, a “Burns Supper Night” to be celebrated on January 25th. This is a special occasion in Scotland when friends gather for a formal supper and read the poetry of Robert Burns. In the beginning, gentlemen gathered without ladies present and drank Scotch whiskey. Today, women are allowed and dinners are informal. Ah, progress.

So there, you have it, some reasons to love January.

Don’t forget, however that January is the month of empty pockets as I mentioned earlier. Therefore, I leave you with one word of caution from Mark Twain who warned against investing one’s money in January in the stock market:

“October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.”

Somehow, I find myself back at my original premise—empty pockets, no sun.

Jan 13

January is the time for change and new bed sheets

The month of January is all about contemplation and change. Not that I may change anything at all, but I think about it a lot in January.

I am not sure we Baby Boomers are that keen on change anyway.

Still, the first month of the New Year is full of the promise of change, and I like the idea, in the beginning.

For instance, there are the annual January white sales in all my favorite stores, and I am confident this will be the year I replace the sheets. Maybe I will cover the sofa and buy a new bedskirt and comforter set as well. Usually by the time I decide what I want, the sales are over.

New calendars arrive, but some of them begin with Monday instead of Sunday. I cannot fathom that at all, so I probably will not use them. I have to wonder who designed those calendars, some 23-year-old commercial art students fresh out of college? Don’t they know we Baby Boomers have to have our calendars start on Sunday because that is all we have ever known? Ok, Ok, I suppose they are designed for the business week, but why?

We had a house guest recently who helped with dinner and graciously set the table. She arranged it beautifully although differently that we do. She happened to move two unneeded chairs out of the way because there were only four of us at a table for six. Perfect. Lovely table. Dinner is served.

Enter my Baby Boomer husband who was immediately thrown by the change. He simply could not figure out where to sit. “Well,” he said, I always sit here. Why are there two chairs missing? Where do I sit? This is my spot on this side of the table? Why am I supposed to sit on the other side?”

As I was saying, we Baby Boomers may like to think we are open to new ways, but truth be told, we drag our feet kicking and screaming into the new year and into anything new at all. The old year and our old ways were just fine with us.

Farmers in the Midwest, have a saying for our January conundrum, “Don’t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t botherin’ you none,” like last year.

In many ways though, last year did bother us a lot. Every year does.

So, we contemplate change each January and hope that this January change will actually happen.

Often, we are tempted to leave well enough alone and not tackle the newness we want in our lives but may be reluctant to find. Perhaps, it is a new job, retirement, new surroundings, new car, more travel, a new boss, less worries, more contentment, less weight, new sheets.

The truth is we know all too well that change is absolutely necessary for survival.

Confucius admonished us that change is required for happiness as well, “They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.”

William Blake once wrote that it is critical to happiness to change one’s mind as well, “The man who never alters his opinions is like standing water and breeds reptiles of the mind.”

Adaptation is what we need in January. Try something new. Think new thoughts. Look at life differently. Buy new sheets. Move the chairs. Try to understand a calendar that begins on a Monday. Well, maybe not the calendar.

After all, according to Washington Irving, “There is a certain relief in change, even though it may be from bad to worse As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position and be bruised in a new place!”

First thing next January, I am buying new sheets.

Kay Hoflander writes Full Circle about the ‘reluctant aging of Baby Boomers’ on a weekly basis for The Examiner. You can reach her at kayhoflander.com.

» Newer posts