I do my best to have something on the stove by the time my boys get off of the bus. By 4:30, after an hour’s country drive, they are starving.
When they can enter the house and their noses sniff the whiff of pumpkin, sweet potato, rosemary and new potatoes with onions and butter, or their favorite – chicken and dumplings – all of the worry and stress rolls off like water on a duck’s back.
Sometimes I wait to make the dumplings so they can help to cut up the long strips of biscuit dough. On the weekends I let them help to pull apart a whole chicken and put it in the big soup pot. They see that their food came from a real, live animal, and they gain more respect for what is on their plate, and in their belly.
I teach them how to bless the foods that died that we might live, and to give thanks for whatever finds its way to our kitchen; others are not so lucky. I let the older one add pepper flakes and grind the black peppercorn over the steaming, golden mixture, while the younger one stirs the pot while popping little pillows of dough inside.
It is a bonding, an energetic exchange; it is love.