I’ll be honest with you, between cooking for a living every day and then going home to prepare dinner for a couple of picky eater kids who are more concerned about how long dinner is going to last (i.e. keep them away from where they’d rather be) than what is on the plate in front of them, some days food preparation can become quite a chore.  One venue where I’ve had the pleasure of cooking several times over the past couple of years, though, is always invigorating.  It’s a local women’s shelter called First Light, and whenever I’m there it makes me take stock of the true meaning of the term “comfort food”.

And look, I’m not talking about anything as fundamentally dramatic as saving lives (this place is going to get people fed whether I go down there or not), but just providing some homemade food for people fed a steady diet of frozen foods, canned vegetables, and other prepackaged foodstuffs.  Now, of course, there’s probably any number of women there who would prefer someone show up with a stack of takeout pizza boxes or a sackful of burgers, but inevitably there’s also an overwhelming portion of the population there whose faces light up when presented with “real” mashed potatoes, cheese grits, green beans, pound cake, cookies, or whatever.  So if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by all of the cooking that you’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks for friends, family, and coworkers, one way to put some of the “joy” back into cooking is finding a group of people who—for whatever reason—can’t prepare a home cooked meal for themselves and serving them some “comfort food.”  For you and them, alike.

*Photo courtesy of First Light.