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Happy cooks share their habits

By Kathleen Purvis
Kathleen Purvis
Kathleen Purvis is the Food Editor for The Charlotte Observer.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column on the habits that make you happy to be in the kitchen. In response, a whole batch of cooks sent me their own habits.

I put some on my blog, I’ll Bite. But I also started scrubbing the themes to see if there were more habits to learn. Try these:

Involve kids. I got this one from a lot of people, including several who described how their now-grown children still cook and love it.

Share cooking. Joan Baumer invites friends over on Sunday afternoons to bake together. Seriously, how great is that?

Try recipes from other cultures. Martha Warner has lived and eaten in Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco and Turkey, and she hasn’t stopped exploring.

Take notes. When Avis Gachet tries a new recipe, she writes down how many bowls it took. Too many bowls and she doesn’t make it again.

Take a cooking class. I heard that from a lot of people. You not only learn what you like (and don’t like), you meet people who have the same interest. Happiness loves company just as much as misery does.

Eat leftovers. My mother did this too: Pick one night a week and pull out all the stuff you have left over. Graze at will.

Keep a dinner party log, with notes on what you cooked and who was there. It can inspire you to have another party.

Share food. If you can it, pickle it, bake it or otherwise prepare it, share it with your friends. One person suggested including red napkins and a ribbon because everything tastes better when it looks pretty.

Have a backup. You’re more willing to try something you’ve never made before if the worst-case scenario is a frozen pizza for dinner.

(My husband would laugh at that one: One of our house sayings for years has been, “There’s always Burger King.” I’ve never had to resort to it yet, but it makes me feel better if I know I can.)

Have the right tools. Good, sharp knives, reliable measuring cups and spoons, and an appliance you like and know how to use makes you look forward to working with them.

Don’t have too many tools. If it’s hard to use it or clean it, it will keep you from getting in the kitchen.

Ask for recipes. If you taste it at a potluck or a party, you already know you love it. And making the recipe will remind you of the friend who shared it or the event where you found it.

And finally, my favorite, from a reader who asked to remain anonymous:

Cook with wine. “Relax, make cooking a social activity, not a chore. As W.C. Fields once said: ‘I love cooking with wine. Sometimes, I even add it to the food.’ My thoughts exactly.”

Shoutout and updates

• My thanks to the volunteers and employees of the Chesterfield County Library, who made me so welcome at last week’s Taste of Cheraw. Nice town, Cheraw – and full of enthusiastic Observer readers.

• We’ve rescheduled the annual list of local farmers markets for May 15. Spring is taking so long that we decided to give market season more time.

Join the food conversation at Kathleen Purvis’ blog I’ll Bite, at, or follow her on Twitter, @kathleenpurvis.
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