By in Food

Cooking therapy

It's always sad to go to a funeral, even when you know someone has led a good life, even when you know they were fighting a difficult disease and are at last at peace. So when I got home this afternoon I felt like I needed a little "cooking therapy" in the kitchen to lift the spirits. And get some of that prep work I wanted to do over the weekend, for the week ahead.

A big casserole or baked pasta dish is always good to make for my sweetie while I'll be away. I had some eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms to use up, so a nice vegetable lasagna seemed like a good idea. Normally when I'm being fussy I like to make my own pasta noodles from scratch, and a creamy rich bechamel sauce, but this was clean-out-the-fridge lasagna so I short-cutted it a bit. Used some no-boil lasagna noodles from the pantry and a fresh mozzarella that needed to be eaten, along with some pre-shredded mixed cheese. Still a lot of work, and still looks pretty good.

For tonight's dinner I slow-roasted a small corned beef in the oven. It was a small piece (3 lbs) that I got for all of $2 after St. Patrick's Day and immediately threw in the deep freeze for future use. I'm used to doing the traditional boiled corned beef, but sweetie's not really a fan of that. So I tried a recipe for Baked Corned Beef Brisket from instead. It was tasty, tender and more flavorful than usual but very salty, as per the recipe's notes. I would do this again but would probably soak the corned beef in water for a while first, not just "rinse well". Or add some cooking liquid like beer so the saltiness isn't as concentrated. To serve with it I had some Italian-style sauerkraut (yes, that is a thing) and I made Swiss chard potatoes , a recipe from Lidia Bastianich (one of my favorite TV chefs). Sweetie loved the potatoes especially but had to admit that the corned beef was tasty. And he's got leftovers for sandwiches, too.

All that cooking and it took me a good hour to clean up the kitchen and put all the leftovers away. But, I think it was worth it and very therapeutic. There's something about cooking that's very calming for me - having to concentrate on chopping, browning, tasting, seasoning. And when I'm able to stretch out some inexpensive ingredients into quite a few meals it's especially satisfying.

Image Credit » Vegetarian lasagna, photo by sockii.

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DWDavisRSL wrote on August 10, 2015, 10:07 PM

It sounds like your sweetie will be well fed while you are away. My oldest son perfected a corned beef brisket recipe that was well loved by his friends at State. Sadly his friends in Pensacola may never know the joy as he doesn't have the all the things he needs in his kitchen in the BOQ.

Feisty56 wrote on August 10, 2015, 10:29 PM

The vegetable lasagna looks scrumptious! Perhaps you could share some of your recipes and cooking techniques with us -- it sounds as if you have a lot to share.

cheri wrote on August 10, 2015, 11:14 PM

I never go to funeral. I just don't. I think that the cooking therapy is a good idea

sockii wrote on August 10, 2015, 11:46 PM

I do have a food blog, actually, with quite a few recipes as well as just some general cooking chatter/reviews and such. It's at