In the fall when I was under a lot of stress, I would find myself in the kitchen lots of evenings looking for some sort of distraction. Mostly, I would end up baking something – breads, cookies, cakes and/or muffins – as a way to calm my frazzled nerves. Some of the stuff I would eat, but the vast majority I would end up giving away to friends, co-workers, the IT guys over at City Hall, and/or the woman who owns the local yarn shop. It gave me something to do, and gave me a way to show how much I appreciated the people I worked with or those who were putting up with my stress. 1
The last two weeks, I’ve been feeling off my game. Mostly, I’m tired and unfocused and I just can’t seem to accomplish anything useful at all. It’s taken what feels like a massive effort to haul myself out of bed and get to work, where I get nothing accomplished. And then I have dance class or go to the gym or work and don’t make it home until after 7, at which point I’m too tired to make good food choices 2. Finally, on Sunday I’d had enough and started thinking about how to snap myself out of it. While sitting at the kitchen table drinking my coffee and trying to make a list, I saw a bunch of very ripe bananas, and a light bulb went off. Baking!
Baking has many elements that I could use to yank myself out of the slump. There is a very precise list of materials that need to be assembled; there are specific pieces of equipment that must be used; there is a list of instructions that need to be followed; there is a time limit in which the task must be accomplished; and there is a reward upon completion of the task. A delicious, delicious reward (that I mostly give away).
Sunday afternoon, I whipped up a batch of classic scones and some banana bread (with the ripe bananas). Tonight I made dairy-free zucchini bread (because a co-worker is very allergic to dairy)3 It’s still a little too soon to tell if it’s working, but I have started to make a mental list of some small jobs that I can do tomorrow. Best to start small.
And have a slice of zucchini bread.
- There was one memorable week where I baked three loaves of zucchini bread, two loaves of carrot bread, a chocolate zucchini cake, oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip banana muffins. [↩]
- I realize this is probably part of the problem – and I’m working on it. [↩]
- It’s the recipe in The Joy of Cooking, and it happens to not call for milk or butter. [↩]