Good morning. Tuesday is the autumnal equinox, the sun right above the Equator, the length of day and night the same, a marker of harvest season, the first day of fall. (Confidential to those in Australia and New Zealand: Happy vernal equinox!) I’ll mourn our lost summer with its mask-fogged sunglasses, its distanced yard hangs and awkward picnics, but revel in the cool nights and the promise of dinners rich with gravy.
It’s smothered chicken time, the start of the season for pork chops in lemon-caper sauce (above), for smothered shrimp in crab meat gravy, for chicken-fried steak with queso, for meals you can accompany with dinner rolls for swiping, for apple pie and apple cake alike.
The idea’s just to cook against the loss of summer, loss of daylight, loss of outdoor freedoms, and replace it all with deliciousness and joy, with protein to nourish us as the mercury drops and winter stalks closer. So: Make delicious food this week; light where you eat with candles or hurricane lanterns; set the table with care. The idea is just to embrace the cozy, as the writer Isabel Gillies would say, to use cozy as a baseline that helps support your life and the lives of those with whom you live.
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Now, won’t you see what you think of this Ruth Reichl essay for AARP about what she’s learned over the course of a half century of writing about food.
In a similar vein, I enjoyed this Journalism History podcast about the pioneering New York Times food editor Jane Nickerson, whose work leads directly to what you read in our pages today, and across NYT Cooking.