Food & Drink

Chew on This: Cook for your loved ones

This Sausage, Kale and Bean Pasta is all cooked in one pot.
This Sausage, Kale and Bean Pasta is all cooked in one pot. jleonard@newsobserver.com

I didn’t used to be a softie.

I used to have a front-row seat at the Wake County courthouse covering criminal trials. I didn’t flinch at crime scene photos or graphic testimony about violence.

I’m not saying I was ever as intimately knowledgeable or affected as the police officers, crime scene investigators, prosecutors and defense lawyers on the front lines of our criminal justice system. But I was an observer to the courtroom drama and heard all the disturbing details. In my nine years of covering crime here and in South Carolina, only two murder cases ever really got to me.

But these days, I can barely read the news without bursting into tears. I spent most of Wednesday driving from interview to interview, wiping away tears as I listened to news accounts of the shooting deaths of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

When I mentioned this to a co-worker, he told me the difference now is I am a parent.

I don’t think parenthood makes everyone a softie; it just apparently did that to me.

I don’t think I could have covered the trial and retrial of Jason Young without struggling to hold back tears during testimony about his toddler daughter tracking bloody footprints through the house after being left alone with her murdered pregnant mother, Michelle Young.

When I covered courts, I used to escape by curling up at night with cookbooks. Now I escape the world’s bad news by finding solace in the kitchen.

I do express my love by cooking. I feel like I have done well as a parent when I can pull together a homemade meal on a weeknight, which is tougher than I imagined before I became a mother. I’ve learned to find recipes that make it easier.

That’s why I loved this recipe from Cook’s Country magazine for Sausage, Kale and Bean Pasta. It is all cooked in one pot. The pasta is cooked in broth along with onions, kale, beans and sausage. The dish was more brothy, soup-like the first night but became a more traditional pasta dish a day later after the pasta soaked up all that broth. It came together in about 30 minutes and worked for my toddler in a deconstructed form (sausage, pasta and beans all separate on a plate).

Hug your loved ones – and if it will make you feel better, cook them something good to eat.

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