The Simple Way I Plan to Bring a Little More Joy Into My Kitchen This Year

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If your daily trip to the mailbox looks anything like mine, you’ll typically be met with a rather uninspiring array of items. There are bills (of course) and junk mail from local pawn shops stacked atop glossy ads for local political candidates and notes from the city about street forthcoming street repairs. (Whew!) That’s why, in 2020, I’ve resolved to breath a little bit of joy into my postal habits by starting a recipe pen pal club. That’s right—with good, old-fashioned letters.

As a longtime advocate of letters-the-old-school-way, there’s something that grows increasingly intimate and delightful about them with each passing year that we all spend the majority of our days sucked into the digital vortex. Letters take time and attention to write—no one is simply going to fire off a letter like a hot take on Twitter. Letters carry all the telling signs of personality and emotion in a person’s handwriting: good, bad and ugly. Letters are delivered by an actual human. Combine that with a way to share recipes and stay connected with friends in our ever-harried lives, and a recipe pen pal club starts to look pretty appealing. (Plus, there are some pretty cool-looking stamps out there these days, like these Marvin Gaye stamps.)

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The concept is simple. You gather together a group of friends (or simply tap a pal who you think would be game) and commit to pairing off and sending one another a recipe on alternating weeks for the length of the year. It’s that easy. Within that, you could stipulate other ideas for how make the recipe letters even more personal—each recipe must be handwritten, for instance, or ask for a little life update included with the ingredient list—but even just beginning with a recipe itself will soon blossom into a more personal discussion organically. Before you know it, your friend might be asking for your favorite “weeknight vegetarian” recipe while you cook her grandmother’s beloved prime rib—a conversation taking place not only through words, but meals.

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At the end of the year, you’ll have at least 26 new recipes in your rotation, and a deeper appreciation for your pen pal through the recipes she or he has cherished enough to share with you. (If you’re part of a larger group, gather at the end of the year to trade the favorite dishes you’ve received from your friend!) A recipe pen pal club might not make our lives any less frantic, but for a second, when you open a new letter, it will feel quietly nice that someone put pen-to-paper specifically with you in mind. 

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