This definition left me feeling joyless so I decided to go back to the root of the word, before the days of Webster, and find what joy is really all about.
Sure enough, there it was, the true meaning of joy: rejoice. It comes from the Latin "gaudere" which means "rejoice." The French turned that into "joie" and the English turned that into joy.
Irma Rombauer turned that into the "Joy of Cooking" but more on that in a minute.
Let's just stick to the simple word joy for just a moment.
There are two ways to look at joy. One, you can look at joy as a thing that happens to you. Or you can look at joy as something you make happen. If you simply look in the library dictionary for guidance on joy you will be hard pressed to have it in abundance in your own life because the joy that is taught by Webster's isn't the kind of joy you can choose, it is the kind of joy that just "happens" to you.
But that isn't true joy.
True joy is rejoicing and rejoicing is a choice. No one has rejoicing happen to them. Rejoicing is a verb. Rejoicing is a decision. Rejoicing is a definitive action taken by a person.
And so is joy.
Joy isn't just a feeling of elation because of good circumstances. That would make joy a response, not a decision. But joy is so much more than a conditional response. It is an unconditional action taken by someone who makes a conscious decision.
That brings us to cooking and baking and the joy in those actions. Just ask Irma, there is joy in cooking. Even in the midst of the Great Depression, on the heels of her husbands suicide, Irma found joy in the kitchen and in the formulating and preparing of a meal. She wrote a cookbook on the subject matter, titled it "JOY of Cooking" and 75 years later it is the best selling cookbook of all time.
She found joy in the kitchen because she decided to cook not because it just happened to her. The joy was a product of a decision to go and grab it off the shelf, mix it in a bowl and bake it in an oven. Her joy was roasted, sauteed and broiled along with her meats and potatoes. Her joy wasn't born out of a happiness of life circumstances but out of a decision to make joy happen.
That joy is available to everyone whether or not they choose to cook or bake or order carry out. Joy is as easy to attain as making a decision. If you find decision making hard then I suppose joy is hard to capture and sustain. But if you can make up your mind to be joyful, to live in a state of rejoicing, the joy will flow abundantly without need for a particular mood or "happiness" to overtake you.
And if you do decide to express your joy in the kitchen then I encourage you to share that joy with others through the blessing of your baking and cooking bounty. When joy is shared it is multiplied. I do believe Irma would have agreed that the more joy - the more cooking, the more baking, the more sharing - the better.
For a treat worthy of sharing I suggest these Glazed Pumpkin Muffins (recipe below). My recipe is adapted from AllRecipes. I read countless pumpkin muffin recipes before tweaking this one to make it the perfect muffin recipe (in my humble opinion). I shared these muffins with the women's Bible study I have started to bake for as an outreach of my Romans 15:13 Ministry. These muffins along with thumbprint cookies (recipe can be found recipe here) were my treats of the week. They were a hit with my tasters and a joy to bake!
1 cup pumpkin (canned "or" fresh)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup veg. oil
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- Preheat oven to 350 and spray 16 muffin tins with cooking spray.
- Blend pumpkin, eggs, water and oil in large bowl.
- Stir together all dry ingredients and then pour and mix into wet.
- Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for about 25 or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Maple Cream Cheese Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 TB heavy cream
1 TSP vanilla extract
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 TB maple syrup
Whisk sugar, heavy cream and vanilla together until blended. On low to medium speed add cream cheese and syrup (amount may vary depending on personal taste). If the glaze is too thick add some more heavy cream. Blend until the desired consistency is reached. Drizzle on cooled muffins.