My name is Rachel. I’m a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, reading, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

After a fun year studying abroad in Japan during my university years, I decided to return upon graduating from my university, this time for work. I worked in Japan for about 2 years as an English teacher, then decided to quit so I could focus studying the Japanese language more. Oh yeah, I also got married in there too.

My husband is Japanese, but we met in Oklahoma when I was a student. After I graduated and moved back to Japan, he followed shortly after. We were married in spring 2010, and have been ridiculously, shamelessly, and nauseatingly happy and in love ever since. My husband currently works as a scientist, doing research about things that I don’t understand (What? I didn’t like chemistry in high school, okay?!). Anyway, he works very hard everyday to support us and wears a lab coat in the process. He also loves any and all sports, and can beat me at any and all sports (including wii sports).

Living in Japan has it’s ups and downs, but it’s been an amazing experience with many lessons learned, including how to ride a bicycle after several glasses of wine how to hang out the laundry, and how to sun our futons on the balcony.

Although I do love Japanese food, sometimes I just need some good ‘ole southern food. Unfortunately, finding a lot of the ingredients and foods available in American groceries stores (ex. frozen pie crusts, whole wheat bread, etc.) can be next to impossible sometimes. After my husband and I got married, out of desperation (i.e. repeated intense cravings) for a taste of something familiar, I was forced to learn how to cook many things from scratch. Through this process, I learned not only that homemade food tastes a million times better than the stuff from the store and is better for you, but also that I truly enjoy cooking for myself and my husband, and what a joy it can be to make a good, healthy meal for those I love.

I try to cook/bake with as natural ingredients as possible, and make things from scratch whenever I can. In other words, I use real butter, real cream, and real meat. I love fresh fruits and vegetables as-well-as a wide variety of whole grains. Basically, if something in the grocery store includes scientific-sounding words in the ingredients list (or the infamous “natural flavors“), then I don’t buy it. (note: In Japan, this is quite a bit harder, as I can’t read many of the ingredients listed on things, but I just try to do my best.)

Although tiny, my little kitchen has been the place where I’ve discovered my love of cooking, what joy it brings to me and my family, and how to really make our apartment into our home. Welcome to The Joyful Kitchen.


6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Albert  |  September 24, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Great site Rachel. I’m studying to become a health coach and need to expand my base of whole and fresh food recipes. Although lately I’m personally on a 30-day no meat challenge, I still prepare dishes with meat for my family. Keep the recipes coming.


    • 2. The Joyful Kitchen  |  September 26, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      Hi Albert! I’m glad you enjoy my recipes!
      Learning whole/fresh food recipes is definitely a step-at-a-time process, but I enjoy it a lot. There’s something very satisfying about learning to cook a dish from scratch that you never made from scratch before. Good luck!

  • 3. Judy  |  October 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    Hi! I’m Judy from Niigata. I just found your blog through your post on MIJ. Love it, love it, love it! I’ve fallen into that rut of making the same things over and over that you spoke of. We share the same philosophy about food. Also many of the same tastes, it seems. I’m scrolling through your recipes and my mouth is watering! Hmmmm… which to try first?! The packed lunch ideas are also going to be very helpful. Please tell me you’re going to keep your blog going after you move in December!

    • 4. rueki86  |  October 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      Hi Judy!
      Thank you for your comment! It’s always so nice to here when someone likes what I’m posting! 🙂
      And to answer your question, yes! I’ll definitely be continuing this site after going back to the U.S.! It’ll be harder to find a lot of Japanese ingredients, but I’m hoping to hunt down an Asian or Japanese market after moving back.

  • 5. Kirsten  |  October 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I found you via MIJ too. I love your meal plan Mondays. I am toying with starting to meal plan and they are good references.

    • 6. rueki86  |  October 20, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      Thanks! It definitely takes some time to sit down and plan out the week’s meals, but it’s such a huge time saver during the week. I love not having the “What should I cook for dinner?” panic around 5pm every night, and I also love not having to run to the grocery store to get random ingredients for some dinner I just thought up.
      One thing I find helpful is to make an index of the meals you usually make (or would like to make again). Mine is categorized by different cuisine types, plus I have a separate list for packed lunch food ideas. I know some people, however, categorize theirs by preparation time (like all day slow cooker meals, 30 min. or less dinners, etc.). Having an index makes it a lot easier, as you can just refer to it whenever you need some dinner ideas.
      I’m glad you like my meal plans, and good luck starting your own meal planning! Trust me, it’s worth it!


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