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MRS. SUNDBERG

(Mrs. Sundberg is Garrison Keillor’s female nom de plume, and she writes a column every week for the Prairie Home Companion weekly email.)

There was a light coating of snow outside and more to come, which it did, on Sunday, and I was cooking up my own storm. Bean soup, cornbread, cherry cobbler. It must be something primitive in us to go to town in the kitchen when the weather takes a turn for the colder.

There’s something else, too, about cooking. Other than whatever survival issues we have going deep in our subconscious. Cooking and baking, especially, make me feel both productive and calm at the same time. Not many things are like that in my world. Either it’s productive and a bit stressful, or calm without much getting done. I’m not one of those enviable people who seems to have a steel cable of calm running through the spirit.

I love to cook alone, but I must say I wish Mr. Sundberg were around more because cooking with someone you love is about as good as it gets. There’s the bumping into each other, and one person is making bread and the other is sautéing shrimp and there’s wine and conversation and tasting and nodding. It’s like a dance, cooking together. And then there’s the meal, a table with candlelight and two plates and napkins and delicious food made together and shared. Oh, my.

Cooking with the kids is another story. There’s a patience required, but a tenderness that rises up during the mixing and snitching cookie dough and banter about school. It’s a way of loving, I think, to make food together, different from the solitary art of doing it alone. Get out the cookbook, I say. Call the children and make a feast. A giant salad or roast chicken or soup. And Valentine’s Day is not long off. What better way to spend an evening than searing scallops and shredding lettuce and tasting the pasta dish…together. Dessert is up to you. I say a flourless chocolate cake, perhaps. Or something with cherries and cream cheese. Or a Pink Lady apple, cored and split on a plate, with a truffle from that little place in town. You know the one.

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