Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Pinto beans with cornbread was the staple meal in my home growing up. I still consider it comfort food and rely on this plate of nourishing goodness to elevate and honor my emotions.
After my mom died, I moved back to North Carolina and shared this meal on weekly visits with my Dad. He honored the fact that I'm vegetarian, and I honored the ease and simplicity of the meal that always reminds me of my mother, Loretta, and her kitchen skills. Pinto beans cooked in a pressure cooker or in a big pot cooking on the stove all day, her canned tomatoes, canned straight from the garden, and cornbread made in a cast-iron skillet.
One day in early October 2019, I shared pinto beans out of a can, heated on the stove in my parents' modest kitchen. The OG kitchen that never once got an upgrade, other than the country wallpaper, still stained from years of preparing meals. The side dish was canned tomatoes, probably from Food Lion, add a little chow chow and raw onions for the condiments served with a glass of sweet tea, the traditional Southern beverage. This comfort food will always remind me of home and the love and joy that comes in a plate of food. I still crave it regularly.
I will always remember the weeks and months after Mom's passing that I shared meals with Dad. We had some healing to do together, and the best way to do that was through our love of this comfort food. I would call him and let him know I was on the way; he should make the cornbread. Loretta famously gave a review of Cracker Barrel's cornbread to their waitperson, "My husband's cornbread is better than yours."