Once the leaves blush and the air turns crisp, it seems natural to reach for the cinnamon, empty the King Arthur Flour bag, and blast the oven. I never could have cooked this much during a regular hockey season. I’ve hit my preferred spots: Russo’s in Watertown, Wilson Farm in Lexington, Tony’s Market Roslindale, Trader Joe’s. During idle moments, I’ve pondered adding flaxseed to my granola or sauteing spinach for a quiche instead of stressing over player trades and fussing about words. Fingers that hum on a keyboard stay busy slicing apples and smashing garlic.
As a regular hockey writer, meals help me place when and where I am on the NHL calendar. If I was fighting winds in pursuit of a chicken shawarma plate stacked with hummus, salad, rice, pita, and garlic sauce, I was in late-fall Ottawa. If I was defrosting with a Caffe Art Java latte following a mid-afternoon croque monsieur at L’Express, it was December in Montreal. A briny Greek salad eaten outdoors meant Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in February.
If and when the lockout lifts, things will return to normal. When I go to Philadelphia, I will eat roast pork at DiNic’s at the Reading Terminal Market; in New York, I’ll get Gaspe smoked salmon with cream cheese, capers, tomatoes, and onions on a sesame bagel at Russ & Daughters; and in Washington, sizzling steak with black pepper sauce at Full Kee restaurant.
Since my first season on the beat in 2006, my identity has been tied directly into my responsibilities. When someone asked me what I did, I mentioned the Bruins and The Boston Globe. For one strange month at least, I haven’t been able to say I am a hockey writer. I am a writer at home living through a New England fall.
The kitchen is a neat and orderly place when little about hockey makes sense.