I reached into the cabinet above the oven and pulled out my old wooden recipe box. Rifling through the tattered pieces of paper and index cards, I found just the one I was looking for and pulled it from the box. I walked over to the kitchen counter, set it down next to the ingredients that I had already gathered there, and began the necessary preparations without even a glance at the recipe card. I don't know exactly why I even got it out. I had made this casserole so many times I knew the recipe by heart. But I guess there was a measure in comfort in just having the recipe near.
Comfort. That was what I was looking for. That was the reason I had decided to make the casserole my mother had made hundreds of times while I was growing up. I figured we could all use a bit of comfort food tonight.
As I chopped the yellow onion and green pepper, I thought about the article my sister-in-law had shared on Facebook the day before about the emotional benefits of cooking. Honestly, I had scoffed at the idea. Cooking was not one of my favorite things to do, although it may not be the cooking itself but the piles of dirty dishes afterward that stress me out. Aside from the casserole dish it would bake in, there would only be a knife, cutting board, and a couple of measuring cups that would need washing afterward. I began to feel the tension melt from my shoulders as I fell into a familiar rhythm measuring and layering the ingredients. My husband and younger son were working in the yard, and my older son was shut up in his room, hopefully, but not likely, doing his homework. It was just me and the task at hand. I began to think cooking might be therapeutic after all.
After laying a few slices of bacon on top, I covered it and slipped it into the hot oven. Now, all I needed to do was wait. It would be one and a half hours before my mom, husband, sons, and I would be able to sit down to dinner. It would be worth the wait, though. When it was done, it would emerge from the oven bubbling and sizzling and smelling like home.