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September’s Comfort Foods: A time for transition

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What to cook in September: Comforting dishes for a time of transition

(Image, left: Dennis The Prescott. Right: Drake Devonshire.

Shucking corn for dinner was one of my favorite chores growing up. My mom would give me half a dozen corn cobs in late summer when the corn was particularly good and often on the menu. Then, she would send me to the back deck with a half-dozen more. I would hold an ear between my knees and use all my strength to remove the husk. Then, I would take my time removing any silk remaining. Regardless of how long it took me, my mom would always praise me for “helping” before I dunked the cobs into simmering water. These were my sunset days of summer. I was able to relax in the fading sunlight and enjoy the return of buttery, hot corn.

September’s crisper air can tempt us to return to the stoves. For many, this means baking, but there’s also sautéing and slow-roasting, braising and boiling. There are plenty of fresh produce available in the stores, as well as your own gardens or cold cellars if you’re fortunate. This allows you to create warm and comforting meals. You can roast autumn favorites like delicata squash to make a delicious dinner salad. Or you can turn cauliflower into “steaks” for savoury dishes. To make pesto pasta, you can melt summer’s last tomatoes. 

I’ve resisted my no-cook mentality during the warmer months. So many sandwiches!This September, I have been getting to know my oven and roasting everything from green beans in the late summer to brussel sprouts sprouts in the early autumn. I was able to finally return from the store with some corn to boil the next evening when the air could be described as cool. 

As an adult, shucking is still a satisfying and meditative experience. But this year, I have more things on my mind while I take off the bright green blades. Remote work, daycare and its ever changing restrictions, friends I’ve lost, the news. I struggle to be present as I pick off each fine thread of silk — until a light tapping sound snaps me out of my funk. My one-year old son is squatting on the floor with a soup spoon. He finds it much more interesting than any other toys. He is “helping” me in that moment.

This past year and half has seen a lot of change, for me as well as many others. The good news is that we can rediscover the rituals and flavours we love with the changing seasons. This is something we can take comfort in. 

These recipes celebrate warmth returning to the kitchen.

Seared Scallops With Sweet Corn Risotto

Big Roasted Delicata Squash Dinner Salad

(Photography by Betty Binon

Cauliflower Steak with Crispy Chikpeas, Broccolini

(Image: Dennis The Prescott).

Olive Tart with Roasted Tomatoes

Massimo Bottura’s Mint and Breadcrumb Pesto

Garlic Parmesan Brussels Spouts with Crispy Pantcetta

(Photography: Florence Grunfelder; food styling: Sabrina Falone

Tray-Baked Salmon Niçoise

(Photo credit to Jackson Roy)

Drake Devonshire’s Cream of Tomato Soup

(Credit: Drake Devonshire)

Galettes of Mixed Berry

(Credit: Kyla Zanardi)

Reiko Milley, a senior copyeditor for CBC’s English nonscripted content, is a member of the Editorial Board.

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