For people who can't cook and eat together, gifts of homemade frozen meals, baked goods, or foods preserved in cans or jars can be a great personal comfort. They're thoughtful, pleasurable, and healthier than sending a box of manufactured candy or a basket of factory-cured meats and overly salty spreads.
Dear heartburn Jesus, I want my chest to hurt for happier reasons this year.
I have to say that after a year without seeing the inside of a restaurant, I still don't miss the crappy chain eateries in my region or the underwhelming ambience of a place that's best known for takeout. I do not pine for the awkwardness of American tip culture and feeling nauseous with pity over how tired and harassed the waitstaff look. What I do miss is collaborative cooking with friends and potluck holiday feasts.
Remember buffets? Remember sharing fresh garden harvests? Remember long, multi-course dinners and drinks on patios and decks? Maybe we'll have them again this year!
Meanwhile, it's still good to stock the freezer with healthy soups, sauces, and casseroles in case someone who can't be at my dinner table needs a little nourishing love. I feel loved, too, when someone drops off a big batch of belly-warming stew when I need it. Homemade food, cooked with love, feeds the body and soul like no commercially prepared meal could ever do.
And, over the past year, most of us have learned how amazing home cooking can be for our love lives, our waistlines, and our wallets. Happy cooking!