It’s raining out.
I love quiet gray mornings on the weekend.
Outside, the leaves are beginning to describe the season and change color. The streets are wet from an overnight rain and the sky looks like a thick blanket of soft gray cotton.
I need days like this. They remind me to stay inside and enjoy the little things like cinnamon toast with butter and a good cup of coffee.
Looking through the window behind my computer screen, I can see droplets of rainwater hanging from the leaves in my neighbor’s bushes. The tree branches sway from the wind, and on occasion, I can hear the sound of cars driving passed my home. The sound of car tires chatter against the street and I can hear them slow down as they arrive at the stop sign on the nearby corner.
I need times like this one . . .
I need them to remove myself from the usual routine and forget the issues at hand. And like anyone, I need to relax.
Although I have no proof, I believe comfort foods were invented on rainy days. I believe they are meant for quiet afternoons on the couch, and of course, they are perfect for a good meal. . .
As a boy, The Old Man used to make “Leftover Omelets.” A Leftover Omelet meant The Old Man cut up the leftovers from the previous night’s dinner and placed them in an omelet with cheese and other flavorings.
“You never had an omelet until you’ve had a Leftover Omelet,” he would say.
My Aunt used to make them as well. Only, her omelet was called the “Kitchen Sink,” because she added everything to it except for the kitchen sink.
I will admit, I have never been much of an omelet fan—but Leftover Omelets and Kitchen Sinks were always good. They were great when the leftovers were chicken cutlets or steak and potatoes. (Steak and potatoes the were best.)
Add different cheeses, some tomato, some fresh spinach; maybe some grilled onions, or mushrooms, along with a few shakes of salt, some black pepper, and some hot sauce or steak sauce and there was nothing quite like it.
I view rainy days to be perfect occasions for a good meal.
I see them as a chance to make my specialized mashed potatoes, with brown gravy and fried chicken cutlets that were breaded with Italian seasoned breadcrumbs.
Of anything I take serious in this world it is my mashed potatoes . . .
Believe me on this.
I see days like this as an excellent opportunity to make stew.
Like my Spanish stew, which is cubed beef (or veal) with sliced yellow onions, some quartered tomatoes, garlic cloves, beef stock, and just a few slices of Jalapeño peppers to spice and kick in flavor.
I enjoy these gray rainy moments.
I see them as a fine time to make my version of sausage and peppers.
This is a several hour affair . . .
I smother and bury the Italian sausage (without fennel) in sliced red peppers, plenty of garlic cloves, Portobello mushrooms, onion, tomato and cubes of veal. I add a little bit of sugar to solve the acid from the tomato; I pour in some olive oil, and then I offer a good splash of balsamic vinegar before stirring in the sliced fingerling or red potatoes.
But of course, no meal like this would be anything without the right kind of bread to dip into or soak up the juices from an otherwise emptied plate.
If I have advance notice, there is no better time than the night before the storm to place a pork shoulder in the oven.
Bathed in Sofrito, which is a Spanish sauce with tomato, garlic, paprika, peppers and olive oil, I poke holes into the meat to act as pockets for the whole cloves of garlic to disperse flavor throughout the roast. Then I cover the pan in tinfoil and place this in the oven for an overnight bake at 250 degrees.
By morning, my home smells like a wonderful trail of tenderly cooked food that leads me down the stairs from my bedroom and into the kitchen. Even the idea of breakfast is reorganized to enjoy the fall-off-the-bone meat, which lay on beds of yellow rice and red beans.
However, regardless to the meal and to the style of full-day cooking, or whether the delivery was Chinese food or pizza, the best part of any good feast is the aftermath. The best part is the smiling faces with full bellies after their dessert and the candlelit rooms we sit in while watching movies as a family.
I love lazy days like this, but they don’t come often.
I see them as a necessity.
I see them a reminder to relax and stay in.
They are a reminder of a quote I use often.
“Food is love.”
And next to a kiss, there is no action more loving or generous than preparing a meal for those who matter most.
Enjoy the rain, folks.
I know I will.