The JOY of cooking

The Joy of Cooking, a time-honored, classic cookbook.

You’ve just walked in the front door, your bag of books or briefcase weighing down your shoulder and your shirt half tucked into your slacks, which seem to have permanent wrinkles after all the time you’ve spent sitting in front of the computer. You walk into the kitchen and look from your refrigerator to your pantry to your stove. It’s 7 p.m. and the last thing you want to do right now is prepare a home-cooked meal.

So, where did the JOY of cooking go? Apparently it expired after we started taking on so many activities that making a meal became more of a burden than a time that brings happiness to our daily lives.

But if you have cookbooks, I’m sure you have the Joy of Cooking. If you don’t, you should probably get a copy. The all-purpose cookbook, which contains a recipe for every type of dish you can imagine, has sold over 18 million copies since Irma Rombauer first published it in 1931. A year after her husband’s suicide, Rombauer created the cookbook as a reminder of the activity that brought true joy to her life. In coping with her emotions, cooking provided a vehicle to show what happiness she could provide in the lives of her friends and family, and in her life as well.

Today, cooking is something that most people have put on the back burner (Pun intended). Sometimes, opening up a cookbook inspires pressure to create some elaborate dish that will never live up to the perfection we desire. You know you’ve felt this way before, too. The cake has to look exactly like the picture. If the pork chop isn’t perfectly tender, why even bother serving it? What if everyone hates my soufflé that I’ve spent hours making?

With our laundry list of daily activities, the idea of cooking and subjecting ourselves to “criticism” or “judgment,” turns cooking into an immediate turn off.

But what if we re-envisioned our image of cooking? What if, instead of seeing it as a canvas that exposes the bumps and blemishes of our culinary abilities, we saw it as a medium for cultivating an appreciation for new tastes and flavors? A way to treat ourselves and others to something that says “I deserve to eat well!”? A form of expression that shows creativity and a sense of curiosity?

Rombauer didn’t title her book the Joy of Cooking for nothing. I think she knew the awesome power that cooking holds and wanted to help bring that gift into kitchens all around the world.

How are you bringing JOY into your life? Maybe today it will start with cooking.

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