The rewards of cooking are many

Much to my brother's disdain, I am not an early riser.

Fortunately, this little peccadillo of mine seldom gets in his way these days since we now live in different states. But when we all convene at a High Sierra cabin in Northern California, such behavior has the potential for disrupting Don's favorite pastime: crack-of-dawn assaults on the local trout population in Pinecrest Lake.

Now most brothers, I believe, would be content to employ the if-you're-not-up-we-leave-without-you technique. But Don loves sharing the wonders of the family retreat with his little sister.

So over the years, the two of us have come to an acceptable understanding: I allow him to shame me into compliance of his fishing agenda; he allows me five minutes of griping once we've climbed into the boat, gunned the engine and headed for the inlet.

Of course, I would never dream of letting him in on my secret. The truth is, that by the time his little 14-footer has picked up enough speed to lift its nose into the chase, I'm already fully immersed in the piney scent of another glorious morning at Pinecrest and happy to be a part of it.

It's the same kind of love-hate thing I have going with the task of day-in and day-out cooking, which any seasoned cook will tell you, is an entirely different animal than the carefree-and-cookin'-cuz-I-wanna style.

Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to haul my lazy self into the kitchen and face the reality of what cooking on a regular basis really is: work. But once I've hit my stride and made a mental leap beyond the chaos the activity creates and the time it eats up, well, the rewards do come.

The dividends can even start rolling in the moment the cutting board is brought to the counter. I feel a day's worth of woes melting away as I focus on a single onion and the task of rearranging its structure into a pile of tiny pieces. If you really need to, you can step back at this point and admire your handiwork. It may be the most success you've had all day, and that's something to appreciate.

So as we head into spring, I'd like to arm you with a few more recipes to share with family and friends. Plus, encouragement to cook what you enjoy — and to enjoy what you cook. There are rewards in that.

Perhaps not as tangible as witnessing a new morning as it breaks over Pinecrest Lake. But how do you measure peace of mind?

Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis, food writer, cookbook author and artist. Readers can contact her by e-mail at or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at

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