Cooking Creates Your Home's Pheromones or The Importance of Cooking at Home

Cooking Creates Your Home's Pheromones or The Importance of Cooking at Home

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Maxwell Ryan
Sep 28, 2014

When I started Apartment Therapy as a design service in NYC in 2001, I quickly noticed that if I helped someone to improve their home, but their refrigerator was empty, progress halted. In other words, no matter how lovely I was able to get a home to look, if my clients didn't come home to cook and eat, everything got cold and dusty. This got me thinking about the importance of cooking in the making of a home...

It was with that in mind that in 2005 we introduced cooking to the site and then split it out into its own site (along with a few others), which eventually became TheKitchn.com. Back then the goal was the same: inspire people to make great homes and support that by inspiring them to cook.

(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

So, here it all is spelled out. Add your own. :)

1. You Never Come Home if you Don't Cook

This is number #1. If you don't get into the cooking habit your home becomes a crash pad. Many people, especially in the cities, work late and then worry that they have no time for cooking, so they get get take out or they eat out. This means that they're not winding down and spending valuable cooking leisure time at home. The less of your personal "me" time you spend at home, the less your home will BE you.

2. The Kitchen is The Hearth of the Home

The kitchen has always historically been The Hearth, where the fire is kept, and the center that keeps the home warm. If the kitchen is cold, the home will be cold, literally and figuratively.

I love my bowls and my old bread plates, given to me years ago and constantly needing repair.
(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

3. Cooking Creates Home Pheromones

All homes have smells, domestic pheromones I call them, and good homes smell like good cooking, clean sheets and fresh flowers and draw you in. When I cook tasty, rich, clean food everything feels good in my home. When I cook bacon, the kids from next door come over (but I do use the exhaust fan!). Good cooking smells will season a home and sink into its pores. This attracts people.

When I was growing up one of my parents oldest friends kept sausage and provolone hanging in his kitchen. I still remember the smell from childhood.

I also think that tasty ingredients and a little surplus of food in your kitchen (crisp apples on display, cookies in a jar, bottles of wine) is sexy.

4. Cooking Time is Home Improvement Time

I find that when I cook, I also do a lot of other things around my house: I water the plants, reorganize a drawer, clean out the fridge, order more supplies, fix a cracked plate. I will often jump on my iphone and restock from Amazon (the Devil!) and this is the time I look around my home and think of what needs to happen or how I could improve it. Cooking is when I get the engines going and get expansive at home.

A little dinner party for a friend we threw last year in our old apartment.
(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

5. Entertaining Needs Cooking Confidence

I don't really dare to entertain at home if I'm not feeling good about my cooking or ability to prepare SOMETHING reasonable, so I believe that nightly cooking is essential if you aspire to entertain EVER. And since entertaining on some level is the best reason to fix things up and show off a little, it's really important to keep this muscle strong. It the the best excuse for keeping your home fit.

6. Cooking is Daily DIY Empowerment

Since we're in a huge DIY moment in our culture, I thought I'd point out that of ALL the DIY's cooking is the biggest right now, and we're going through an absolute renaissance in terms of home cooking. It's an awesome way to challenge yourself, learn a skill and create amazing things that you can eat and serve to other people EVERY DAY. Cooking is a great way to achieve DIY empowerment. Want to feel like a rockstar? Cook a good egg. :)

Here's the fascinating inside of my fridge. A little light, but back to fighting shape with fresh ingredients, leftovers and some yummy bits. I actually stop at the grocery store almost every day for one or two things, so if dinner isn't leftovers, it's just been purchased.
(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

7. Good Health & Home Economics Rely on Cooking

This is a simple one, but cooking at home is not only the best way to have healthy food each day, but it's much more affordable than take-out or restaurants. Invest in cooking good ingredients and you'll live longer. Shop wisely, avoid restaurant markups and you'll have more money to spend elsewhere.

8. It Starts with Breakfast

Home is the natural place for at least two meals of the day, breakfast and dinner, but many skip the first and easiest in order to run out of their home and grab a coffee and a donut on the way to work.

Breakfast is a total luxury meal and the best way to pamper yourself with something tasty and wakeful before you start your day.

Lately, I've been getting up early, making tea and sitting in the living room reading through email before the house wakes up. It's been a joy and a discovery, and only possible because I have basic supplies always fresh and on hand.

Milk, OJ, yogurt, eggs, tea or coffee, butter and a really scrumptious fresh bread (lately Babka) are a perfect starting position for any fridge.

Super happy with my little setup next to my stove. Oil, herbs, salt and eggs are all at the ready. The eggs? I buy and keep only a few out and use them within days.
(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

9. But, I Love Dessert

Despite all I've said, if I kept nothing else at home it would probably be ice cream and chocolate sauce. I LOVE dessert and love coming home for it at any time.

Sweet stuff was, in fact, how I started cooking as I made scones and chocolate sauce from scratch before I learned anything else. Start by cooking what you love and the rest will come.

10. It's Not That Hard! (Leftovers Are Your Friend)

Finally, while many think that nightly cooking needs to be onerous, I couldn't disagree more. Why? Two reasons:

a. When you get into a habit, everything becomes easier. Kitchens do become well oiled machines and carry their own momentum so that it's really easier to cook five nights a week than to cook only two.

b. Leftovers are your best friend because they're tasty and cut way down on meal prep time. When I cook, I always cook more than I need so that leftovers become 1/3 to 1/2 of my weekly cooking time. Sunday nights I often cook a whole chicken with vegetables and eat it for three days of the week.

c. When in doubt, cook an egg. A fresh egg, scrambled with a little salt, butter, herbs de provence and cheese is always DELISH and good for you too. And it takes only five minutes!

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