Gwyneth Paltrow has a lot to teach us about food and using it to keep the memory of loved ones alive, especially important I think around the holidays.

In her cookbook My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness, the Oscar-winning actress writes why cooking is so important to her: “I always feel closest to my father, who was the love of my life until his death in 2002, when I am in the kitchen,” she explains.

The recipes in Paltrow’s book are mostly for everyday foods—salads, burgers, sandwiches, oatmeal, and muffins—and each is accompanied by a personal anecdote. My Father’s Daughter is a fantastic reminder that preparing familiar foods—the ones we likely make by heart and rouse our warmest memories—present perfect opportunities for talking about loved ones.  

As you head into the final days the year, embrace those special and ordinary moments in the kitchen – while you’re slicing, dicing, and chopping – to share a story about your loved one.  And while you’re steaming and sauteing, hopefully you’ll hear a good story, too.

To me, it’s not enough that we choose to serve the same cherished dishes year after year.  It’s essential we tell our family and friends why.