Some of the best advice I’ve ever received came from my friend Jean. It really was life changing. Many summers ago my family and I visited Jean and her family at their home in Pennsylvania.
This was just after completing my kitchen renovation, which coincided with the year my kids finally grew out of their obsession with chicken fingers and mac & cheese. I wanted to make more home cooking and heat less food. I needed recipes that the whole family would enjoy. Jean was a good cook. So I asked her for advice.
Jean suggested I try Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. Jean pulled out her copy of the Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook and gave it to me. As I flipped through the cookbook, I found recipes that seemed straightforward and photographs of dishes that looked so delicious I wanted to lick the page! Sign me up!
When I came back from the trip, I bought the cookbook. After a few recipes, I fell head over heels in love with the cookbook. Every recipe I’ve made has been so flavorful yet easy enough to make even for a beginner. My long dormant love of cooking has been revived. Honestly, I think my whole family fell in love with Ina Garten this year!
I spent all fall cooking my way around Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook. For Christmas I received two of my absolute favorite gifts; a blue Le Creuset Dutch Oven pan from my husband Mike and the entire remaining set of Barefoot Contessa Cookbooks (five at the time) from my kids (actually mine for me).
Now, over fifteen years later, I’ve cooked my way through all 12 Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, making about 75% of Ina’s nearly 1100 recipes. I have benefited greatly from the advice of my friend Jean and would highly recommend Home Cooking and the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.
It turns out that home cooking is not only good for your taste buds, but also offers numerous physical and psychological benefits. Research has shown that eating home-cooked meals can support your immune system and reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. It can also give you more energy, improve your sleep, better manage your health, and even lengthen your life.
But that’s not all. Cooking at home is good for the psyche. Cooking at home can sharpen your mind, fight cognitive decline and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s. It also relieves stress, builds self-esteem and curbs negative thinking. It’s so beneficial that therapists are now recommending cooking classes to treat depression and anxiety, as well as eating disorders, ADHA, and addiction.
Psychologists believe cooking is therapeutic because it fits with a type of therapy known as “behavioral activation.” Cooking relieves depression by encouraging goal-oriented behavior and curbing procrastination. Cooking allows people to focus on a task, which can give them a sense of power and control that they may not have themselves in their daily lives outside of the kitchen.
Also, a study showed that people who create a little bit each day feel like they “blossom” — a psychological term that describes a sense of personal growth. There is a growing recognition in psychological research that creativity is linked to emotional functioning.
Many of us feel like we don’t have the time or energy to cook at home. So, here’s a tip if you fall into this thought trap. Track how you surf the web, watch TV, or play games on your phone. Maybe you have more time to cook than previously thought.
To become a better cook, read Ina Garten’s ten cooking tips: start with great appliances, use quality ingredients, make your own vinaigrette, freeze bread in pieces, pluck the tiniest chicken, make it yet once. and again. And again, don’t get too fancy, use the stovetop space, make it ahead of time – but finish it the day of, always cooking with a Cosmo in hand. 😉
Cooking at home has many surprising benefits that go beyond great-tasting food. Like cooking at home, estate planning has surprising benefits. A completed estate plan creates a sense of accomplishment by ticking a long-neglected box. Some wise advice; There is no better time to start home cooking and start planning your estate.