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Speed bumps and slow-roasted chicken

Have you ever had one of those days that just sucked so bad you wish you never got out of bed? When you were already running late for an appointment and then found yourself stuck in molasses-slow traffic, while every other driver on the road seemed to have left his or her brain at home? Or, despite your dogged efforts to be productive, you just couldn’t get anything done because for some strange reason, common sense suddenly took a backseat to politics, bureaucracy and passive-aggressive apathy?

Perhaps it wasn’t just one rage-inducing circumstance, but rather a myriad of annoying little things that made you wonder if some evil voodoo woman wasn’t actually having a grand old time somewhere, jabbing a million little straight pins into a raggedy doll version of you.

Lately, I’ve been working on perspective by remembering what an incredibly wise guru named Jessica Taylor once said: “If you can go to a hospital’s severe burn unit and feel comfortable whinging about your bad day to the patients there, then fine. You’re having a bad day. Otherwise, it’s just a speed bump.”

And speed bumps are around to remind you to slow down, maybe take stock of where you are and what’s going on around you. Because we all know what happens when we ignore speed bumps and insist on barreling through at full speed, both literally and figuratively. Well, at least my car and I do.

These past couple of weeks, a lot of people I care about have been having some seriously bad days. Some experienced the painful loss of a family member or dear friend (of the two- and four-legged variety). Others found out that they or someone they loved were battling a potentially serious illness. Yet another good friend is caring for a sibling who’s struggling with a life-threatening disease and pain.

I think the phrase “comfort food” was coined precisely for speed bumps and bad days. There are no hard and fast rules for what constitutes comfort food.  Spicy, sour, sweet, tender, crunchy — comfort comes in many different textures and flavors.

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And while you can most certainly find comfort food in a favorite restaurant or sometimes even in the supermarket (come here, Cheetos, mama needs a hug!), my favorite comfort foods are almost always slow-cooked at home with lots of love. Because that’s precisely what you want on days like these —something that makes you feel nurtured, loved and taken care of.

And while comfort food or anything else you may have to offer may not seem like much when you or someone you love is having a bad day, know that every expression of love helps.

So for those of us who are experiencing speed bumps or bad days right now or know someone who is, here’s a recipe for a dish made with lots of love and goodness but not too much effort, because hey, cooks need comfort, too.

Take it slow, take it easy. And whether it’s by way of prayer, presence or comfort food, spread the love as generously as you (okay, as I) would spread butter. Because love, like butter, makes speed bumps, bad days and everything else that much better.

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For questions, suggestions and comments, you can reach the author at Johanna@realgirltoykitchen.com.

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