"Is there a better way to say ‘I love you’ than a home-cooked meal?"


On Rising: Recipes and Rituals for Joyful Mornings 

Deborah E.S. Johnson

Summit Street Press 

ISBN: 979-8-9887847-0-8 


On Rising: Recipes and Rituals for Joyful Mornings by Deborah E. S. Johnson is a unique blend of memoir, personal transformation, guided journal, and recipes. While some might call it a cookbook, it transcends the culinary genre, offering tips for self-care, opportunities for reflection, and most of all, the author’s personal narrative. Of course, it includes hosting recommendations, kitchen tips, and mouth-watering recipes as well.  


Johnson’s book is divided into four sections. The first invites readers into her world and sets the stage for the recipes that follow. The second offers practical tips and guides for the best tools and ingredients to use in the kitchen, and the last two sections focus on the food—enticing breakfast and brunch concoctions like Fountain of Youth Smoothie Bowls, Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Scones, and Cowboy Coffee. 


Woven throughout are Johnson’s personal stories and experiences. Almost every recipe has an essay about what inspired it, why it’s special, and how to incorporate it into readers’ own morning repasts. 


It is in these vignettes that we see Johnson’s earnest desire to use food as an expression of love and gatherings as a connection of the heart. “Is there a better way to say ‘I love you’ than a home-cooked meal, or a better place to listen than around a table?” She invites readers into her vision from the first page, beckoning us by “scooching over to make room for you on this cozy sofa and handing you a steaming mug of goodness,” and reminds us that hosting is a practice of inclusion: “…the beauty of cooking is that it communicates to those who partake─there is a place for you at my table.” 


At the same time, Johnson encourages readers to let go of the stress of entertaining, to embrace the perfectly imperfect and make the focus of our gatherings the people, not the food. “The magic of breaking bread together lies not in the impressiveness of the food. It is in the gift of attention and the joy that accompanies the act of feasting.” 


Rather, she calls us to be mindful and intentional with our meals, asking, “How can we not joyfully consider, honor, and appreciate all that went into what is on our plate?” 


Johnson’s words reverberate throughout the aesthetics of the book; it can only be described as a visual delight. 


The light-filled, ethereal photos evoke joy and thoughts of a simpler life. The images feature the author leading by example as she takes a sunrise walk with her husband, enjoys a sumptuous breakfast in bed, and sips a latte while gazing thoughtfully out a window.  


The charming sketches and hand-written quotes peppered throughout build a sense of intimacy and emphasize the author’s call to treat every day as a special occasion. 


Taken together, the visuals, the crisp pages with edges stamped in a French pattern of blue, the vulnerability of the stories shared, and the personal touches of each recipe create a soulful, reflective, welcoming vibe.  

When Deborah was a kid, she fell in love with cooking, and even dreamed of writing a cookbook- because she realized that it was a powerful way to make other people smile.