What to Cook This Weekend

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Good morning. The nation is grieving, has been grieving for more than a year: for those murdered in mass shootings, for those killed by the police, for those lost to Covid in the horrid early months of the pandemic, for those lost over the course of the months that followed, for those lost this week, yesterday, today. It’s overwhelming. It’s exhausting and unceasing. Even as tulips rise and snowdrops bloom, as vaccinations accelerate and people gather in hope, there’s a palpable sadness ingrained in our lives.

Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim to cook beautiful meals, that we shouldn’t share them with those nearby and celebrate the delicious. Those things help! It is just to say: It’s hard right now. And recognizing that, in your life as in the lives of others, is important. Reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a very long time this weekend. See how they’re doing. Ask them what they need. It helps on both ends of the call.

It’s funny how those conversations can go. Food comes up inevitably in mine: what someone’s been cooking; what they’re bored of cooking; what they long to eat. I detect in some of my talks a hunger for the thrill of the new, the chance to revel in flavors and pleasures when pleasures are so thin on the ground.

So maybe share some recipes, should the subject of good eats come up. Tejal Rao gave us a great one this week in The Times, in an article about donabes, the Japanese cooking vessel. A donabe is a clay pot — do means, “clay” and nabe means “pot” — used for a simmering dish known as nabe, or hot pot. Her recipe, which she learned from Naoko Takei Moore, who sells donabes in Los Angeles while advocating what she calls a “happy donabe life,” is for tsukune miso nabe (above), a gingery chicken-meatball hot pot made with a mix of mushrooms, large pieces of tofu and tender greens in a seasoned dashi broth. You don’t need a donabe to make it this weekend, of course. A heavy, wide-bottomed pot will do.

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