Especially with the ominous forecasts for snow (!!! SNOW !!!) this weekend, it’s been grey and forboding, chilly and damp all week. This says to me: it is crockpot season once more. All I can think about in the realm of food are things that are served warm, perhaps with cheese melting, and are just the sort of thing that warms you from the inside out when you arrive home, dripping from the rain.

First to get stuck in my head: Bouef bourguignon. Yummm. Toss the beef chunks — not too large, not too small — in seasoned flour, sear in a pan to optimize deliciousness, throw in crockpot with a bottle of Burgundy and other accessories… 8 hours later, you pretty much just want to dive into the crockpot and never leave.

Mashed potatoes. ‘Nuff said.

Chili. Beef round, cubed, tomatoes, onions, kidney beans — fie on you drama queens who react with stunned dismay about the beans; you are completely and tragically wrong — more tomatoes, spice… top with shredded sharp cheddar… This is everything that is great about crockpot cooking in one bowl.

Divert briefly to breakfast. Omelettes with molten cheese, scallions, fresh mushrooms … hash browns made from just-shredded potatoes and fried until crispy … biscuits and sausage gravy. Forget donuts, (middle) America runs on this.

Beef stew. Beef chunks (you seeing a pattern?), more wine, this morning’s leftover coffee, bay leaves, carrots, onions, potatoes… whatever looks good and is on hand… serve with baguette slices.

And let’s not neglect our feathered friends. Chicken chunks in broth, onions, round carrot slices, and freshly-made dough dropped into boiling broth for chicken and dumplings.

Meatloaf, cut with bread crumbs or oatmeal, topped with no damn ketchup you insane lunatic freaks, baked and served hot … leftovers for sandwiches the next day, on thickly-sliced fresh bread.

Red beans and rice… soak beans overnight, rinse and put back in crockpot with fresh water, bay leaves, spices, a bit of salt pork to spite the vegetarians if you’re feeling cantankerous, tabasco… let it slow cook all day. Make some fresh rice when you get home, mix it all up, add even more tabasco…

These are the things that make winter worth cooking in.

What a goddamn crying shame I can’t eat any of it at the moment!