Good morning. Nineteen years ago today, I stared at the empty bluebird sky from a patch of grass next to a stretch of open, sparkly water, a week-old baby in a carrier beside me, grief everywhere in the sun, unsure of what we’d done, to bring a child into such a world. I sat that way a long time. Later I cooked as if it could do something, a roast chicken to feed a new family, a scent to counter smoke, a balm against reality’s angry rash. It did not help much, but it helped.
Cooking’s like that still, even if the threats against us are different. It’s a chance to slow down, to still the chaos in our psyches, to offer gifts to others and to ourselves, to provide nourishment and a chance to commune. So I hope you’ll cook tonight and this weekend, that you’ll find some solace in the act and in the eating.
But before we get to recipes, I urge you to take some time savoring Tejal Rao’s latest “Eat” column for The Times, in which she recalls her grandfather, and how judiciously he did, well, everything: “cutting a melon for dessert; ironing shirts and trousers and, to my embarrassment, even underpants; wrapping gifts with paper by folding perfect lines; parallel parking on the curb in front of the fish market. Everything, to him, was worth doing properly, carefully, thoughtfully, perfectly.”
It was that grandfather, Tejal went on to say, who taught her to make lamb kofta, though she never managed to make the dish taste like his, at least until she changed the recipe and rejiggered the expectations she had for it.
Which leaves us with her amazing vegetarian kofta (above), the meatballs made of beans and herbs and bound by egg, deeply seasoned with ginger, garlic and green chile. It’s a homage of rare deliciousness, and absolutely something to consider making real soon.
You could take a run through our collection of recipes for Rosh Hashana, prepare yourself for the coming High Holy Days. Alternatively, you could avail yourself of a gas or charcoal grill, and make soy-basted chicken thighs with spicy cashews. (Which are just as good with spicy peanuts, if you want to economize.)
There are many thousands more recipes waiting for you on NYT Cooking. Go browse our virtual aisles and see what appeals, then save your choices to your recipe box, so you can make what you want, when you want to. You can rate the recipes when you’re done cooking, and leave notes on them, too, for yourself or to enlighten others. Yes, you’ll need a subscription to do all that. Subscriptions are what allow us to keep doing this work we love to do. I hope that you will subscribe today, if you haven’t done so already. Thank you.
And we’ll be here to offer help, should anything should go wrong in your cooking or on our site and apps. Just write firstname.lastname@example.org, and someone will get back to you. (Escalate matters by reaching out to me directly: email@example.com. I read every letter sent and try to help where I can.)
Now, it’s nothing to do with Madeira or miso, but in case you missed it, I thought I’d re-up this stunning Times investigation into the enormous explosion that tore apart Beirut, Lebanon, in August.
Here’s a strong Instagram mash-up to consider: “Saved by the bell hooks.”
Of course you should read “Caste,” by Isabel Wilkerson.
Finally, do take the time to watch this squirrel video that is, as my colleague Melissa Kirsch says, terrifically satisfying. Please enjoy that, and I’ll see you on Sunday.