Comfort comes in many forms, but certainly one way we find comfort is in food. Now that the cold weather is returning, my thoughts turn to things that warm the body.
Mugs have become a popular item. I am not sure just when they made their debut onto the scene, but once they came they were embraced. I love placing my hands around a mug of hot coffee early in the morning. When I taught school I often carried my mug through the hallway to my classroom. The mug allowed for plenty of coffee plus some headroom so that I did not drip it along the way.
My grandfather did not have a mug, but he had a generous plain white cup that he always used. Grandma on the other hand used a cup from her set of dishes as she enjoyed her breakfast cocoa. I think I used a plain white cup, too, because I wanted to be just like grandpa as I drank my cup of coffee.
When I started to come to the farm I found out that mugs were the accepted cups around here. The men always wanted a mug for their coffee. Since this was a Swedish household I found out that the serving of coffee was a time tested ritual. No one ever left grandma's house without first having a cup of coffee.
Today my cupboard is filled with mugs of every shape and size. Many of them were gifts from former students. While I like some of the shapes better than others, I much prefer a mug to drink my hot beverages because they stay warm longer than in the fancy ones that come with sets of dishes. I also have mugs that are seasonal. When Christmas nears I haul out all of my Christmas mugs. I have enough to serve the family plus a few extra in case we have visitors. I have a set of Easter mugs as well so they come out each spring. I actually bought some extra ones since there were not enough to go around when my family enlarged.
I have a generous collection of fancy tea cups that came to me as gifts. There are also a number of them that I purchased as souvenirs. While I love the memories, the cups do not see much use. I cannot imagine handing one of the men a fancy tea cup for his beverage. I have used them when I entertain the ladies. We used to have a neighbor club known as the Friendly Neighbor Club. When I entertained I could use my fancy cups. The ladies enjoyed a bit of luxury after a busy day.
When my husband bought me our first set of dishes he picked out a brown drip-ware pattern. They were sturdy and stood the test of time. He also bought me a set of matching mugs because the cups that came with the set were very shallow. We hardly ever used the cups, but the mugs took a beating as the family and the haying crew ate at Hickory Heights.
Years back I made my good dishes into my everyday dishes because they were not as heavy as the old ones making them easier to wash. Once again, I rejected the cups except on special occasions. When the family eats together we always grab the mugs. It does not matter if we are having coffee, tea, or cocoa, the mugs are the containers of choice.
We often use mugs for soup as well. It is a large enough serving and is easier to handle than a spoon and bowl. My grandson especially enjoys dipping his grilled cheese sandwiches in his mug of tomato soup.
When I ate out recently with my cousins one of them ordered French onion soup. She asked her sister if she had the recipe that their mother used to make. I did not say anything, but I was sure that I had a recipe at home. Once I remembered to look for it, I sent it off in an e-mail to my cousin. The hardest thing about making French onion soup is slicing the four cups of onions.
Along with other hot beverages soup is the ultimate cold weather comfort food. I love homemade soup. During the fall and winter months I try to make a batch of some kind of soup each week. It is not only nutritious, but it is economical, too. It is hard to make a small batch of soup. When I make soup that gives me the opportunity to share some of my leftovers with family and friends.
I cannot forget what is referred to as winter squash. A neighbor shared the bounty of his garden providing me with butternut squash to enjoy with many meals. I have already cooked up a batch and enjoyed it with honey, butter, salt, and pepper. I look forward to a batch of squash soup, too.
I am sure we will get some more nice weather, but while it is cool I think I will cook up a batch of soup. I am hungry for a good bowl of vegetable soup so that is most likely the first kind I will make. If it warms up, I'll just pop my leftovers into the freezer. It is so nice to have a batch of soup to take out on the spur of the moment if company comes.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org