Serving up a Bowl of Love

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A week after my husband and I moved into our house, the only organized room was the kitchen.

Bottled spices lined up like soldiers waiting for marching orders. Pots and pans nestled in drawers under the range. Favorite pot holders—nearly all of them stained—beckoned from their hooks.
So what if I was still surrounded by boxes? I could cook for friends. This house was ready to be our home.

My passion for cooking started in high school. Mom was a nurse’s aide and worked many holidays. She left detailed recipe instructions and called during breaks to make sure I hadn’t incinerated the house. By college, she relied on me.

During my single-mother years, cooking took on a sense of urgency. In most divorces, you lose not only a spouse but a lot of in-laws. My family gatherings had been reduced by half, but I was determined that ours would be a merry table.

Six days after our ­recent move, I tied on my ancient apron and hummed as I chopped and measured, sautéed and peeled. Slowly, the vegetarian chili bubbled up, conjuring years of memories with the dear friends who were coming for dinner.

Gaylee, Jackie, Kate, Sue, and Maura: They know me best, and love me anyway. We passed the corn bread and ­grated cheese with no mention of calories. We quizzed one another endlessly, filling the gaps of busy lives. We raised our glasses and toasted our stubborn commitment to friendship.
Through it all, we laughed. Mercy, how we laughed in this house that is now our home.

Click here to get the recipe for Housewarming Vegetarian Chili.

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