Held annually on September 25th, National Cooking Day is a food-centric holiday that celebrates the joys of cooking. This day encourages people across the United States to get into the kitchen and whip up delicious homecooked meals for their families and friends. From amateurs to expert chefs, everyone can participate by trying new recipes, ingredients and techniques.
Beyond just creating tasty food, the act of cooking engages all the senses. The textures, aromas, flavors, sights and sounds involved in cooking make it a rewarding creative process. In today’s busy world, National Cooking Day is a chance to slow down, unwind and find fulfillment through this activity. The holiday also emphasizes cooking from scratch using fresh, natural ingredients rather than just reheating packaged foods.
History and Origins
While the origins of National Cooking Day are unclear, it has been observed annually on July 25th for over two decades now. The holiday seems to have first emerged in the early 1990s. One account credits Herb or Corrine Eike, a married couple from Sutton, Nebraska who owned an old country store named Hole In The Wall. As a part of their store promotions in 1991, they supposedly coined the idea for National Cooking Day to encourage people to cook more.
The date of September 25th may have been chosen because it coincides with the founding date of the Culinary Institute of America in 1946. Some food historians have speculated that the holiday was actually created by a spices, seasonings or kitchen appliances company as a marketing gimmick. Regardless of its origins, National Cooking Day has been embraced by people across the country as a fun food holiday celebrating the kitchen arts.
Ways to Mark the Day
Food lovers can celebrate National Cooking Day in many delicious ways including:
- Trying new recipes and cuisines outside your comfort zone to expand your cooking skills. Italian, Mexican, Greek and Indian are great options.
- Learning or teaching someone else a new cooking technique like sautéing, roasting, baking, broiling, braising etc.
- Throwing a potluck party and asking everyone to cook and bring a dish made from scratch.
- Hosting a cook-off competition with fun categories judged by friends and family.
- Making dishes using in-season fresh produce from farmer’s markets or your garden.
- Baking breads like focaccia, ciabatta, challah, banana bread from home instead of buying packaged ones.
- Doing a culinary themed movie marathon of classics like Julie & Julia, Chef, Ratatouille or Big Night.
- Trying your hand at preserving techniques like pickling, jam-making and canning seasonal fruits/vegetables.
- Cooking together as a family and getting kids involved in meal preparation based on their age.
- Attempting advanced cooking methods like sous vide, confit, roulades or molecular gastronomy.
- Barbecuing outdoors and inviting friends over for grilled meats, veggies and chilled drinks.
- Making comfort foods that evoke nostalgia like mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches or apple pie.
- Researching recipes from another country or culture and reproducing authentic flavors.
- Surprising someone in your life by whipping up their favorite baked treats or dishes.
The possibilities are endless when celebrating National Cooking Day. Everyone can participate at their own skill level to spread food joy.
Health Benefits of Cooking at Home
Beyond fostering creativity and bringing people together, home cooking provides many health advantages over pre-packaged or takeout food. Some benefits include:
- Control over Ingredients: You can avoid processed foods high in sugar, salt, oil and preservatives by preparing wholesome fresh meals.
- Portion Control: Making food at home makes it easier to control portions compared to oversized restaurant servings. This aids weight management.
- Nutrient Retention: Home cooked meals have higher nutrient density as the ingredients are fresh and cooking times are shorter. Minimal nutrient loss occurs.
- Dietary Diversity: Cooking at home allows you to consciously add variety to your diet by trying new foods, flavors and recipes.
- Food Safety: You are aware of how the food is handled, cooked and stored as opposed to unknown restaurant practices.
- Financial Savings: Preparing your own meals costs significantly less than packaged, delivery or dine-in options.
- Lifestyle Habits: Cooking regularly encourages more mindful eating habits within families leading to better nutrition.
- Reduced Risk of Diseases: Home cooked food lowers risk for obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions linked to poor diets.
So whip up some tasty homecooked goodness on National Cooking Day to gain its many benefits, beyond just delighting your tastebuds!
National Cooking Day is the perfect chance to try fun new culinary trends that are taking kitchens by storm. Some current fads include:
- Hybrid Recipes: Combining cuisines like Korean chicken tacos, Indian pizza or Thai burritos for fusion flavors.
- Ancient Grains: Alternatives like quinoa, farro, amaranth and millet are replacing rice and wheat.
- Meat Substitutes: Plant-based meat replicas made from soy, legumes, mushrooms etc. are gaining popularity with vegetarians.
- Bold Global Flavors: Ingredients like harissa, guasacaca, gochujang, zhoug, and tahini are amping up dishes.
- Food Art: Elaborate plating techniques and garnishing makes dishes Instagram worthy.
- Fermented Foods: Kimchi, kombucha, kefir and pickles provide probiotics.
- Sustainability: Cooking locally sourced, seasonal foods that support farmers.
- Handheld Breakfasts: Wraps, muffins, breakfast burritos ease rushed mornings.
- Snackable Bites: Small single-serve portions like mini quiches, tarts, dumplings for grab-and-go convenience.
- Fresh Herbal Teas: Creative infused drinks using ingredients like turmeric, rose, hibiscus, mint, cinnamon.
- Rainbow Colors: Vibrant veggies like beet, purple carrot, yellow squash brighten plates.
Trying these trends adds excitement to home cooking while celebrating National Cooking Day in style.
Kitchen Tips and Tricks
Here are some handy cooking tips and tricks to make kitchen tasks easier and faster:
- Pierce vegetables with holes before microwaving to prevent exploding.
- Freeze overripe bananas to use later in banana breads or smoothies.
- Roast garlic by drizzling olive oil on unpeeled garlic bulbs and cooking until soft.
- Use ice cube trays to freeze leftover sauces in single-serve portions.
- Prevent pots from boiling over by laying a wooden spoon across the top.
- Sprinkle salt on sponges to scrub off tough stains on pots and pans.
- Wrap cheese chunks tightly in wax paper instead of plastic to let it breathe.
- Keep dough from sticking to rolling pins by dusting pins with flour before use.
- Brighten stale bread by running it under hot water to soften the crust.
- Coat measuring cups and spoons with nonstick spray before using sticky ingredients.
Mastering basic kitchen hacks like these will make cooking easier and more efficient. They provide inspiration to get busy in the kitchen on National Cooking Day!
As a food focused holiday, National Cooking Day is the perfect excuse to don your aprons and express your culinary creativity. By cooking tasty meals from scratch for loved ones, people across America can participate in this celebration. It is a day to experiment with new recipes, techniques, and ingredients while appreciating the therapeutic benefits of cooking. Food truly does bring families and communities closer together. This Cooking Day also emphasizes the healthier aspects of preparing homecooked food rather than buying packaged goods. So get cooking and spread the foodie joy on this special holiday.