My best friend and I have a bit of a theory: When someone gets REALLY into making bread they’re probably not okay.
We laugh at this as people who occasionally like to bake bread for parties, nourish sourdough starters, and generally like carbs.
But everytime we hear a new friend or acquaintance talk about their new found love for breadmaking we think “are you okay?”
This week I have made a lot of bread. This week I haven’t felt okay.
Yesterday I cried. I cried listening to some of my favorite music. I cried watching the news. I cried talking to my mother, my boyfriend, and my friends.
I couldn’t always name the specific reason I was crying, but I know it was all varying kinds of grief. Grief at not seeing my family, for seeing my brother’s wedding canceled. Grief over not being able to water my plants at work. Grief over the sudden new fear and anxiety that accompanies me anytime I step outside my house, or whenever one of my loved ones does. Grief for my country and my state as I watched our president shit talk my governor instead of sending emergency supplies.
Baking, much like reading, has always been a form of escape for me. There is something relaxing and imminent about combining ingredients and watching them form something new. With bread there is the added benefit of watching something living grow. I particularly love shaping dough after it has risen. The smell of baked goods in a small house also can’t be beat.
I’m finding that this week I have taken solace in my kitchen and my couch. My kitchen, while small, is a space I control, and the things that come out of it nourish me in more ways than I can count. My couch has become my go to spot of reading, and after a few weeks of spott focus and anxiety I have found books are again my escape from this crazy world. Sometimes, after a particularly good reading session I can almost forget that I can’t go to my favorite restaurant, even if just for a few minutes.
Earlier this week I spent some meditative time making a chai banana bread. It helped keep me grounded when I felt like my meager routine wasn’t enough.
Today I am combining my escapes. Today I made a lovely herby focaccia. I listened to my seemingly infinite Outlander audiobook as I made the dough. I turned it up as I did dishes. I wondered if I would be stuck at home long enough to finish the almost 50 hour Drums of Autumn.
While waiting for the dough to rise I sat down with A Thousand Ships and lost myself in the Trojan war. Again. For those of you following along, yes, I am still obsessed with mythology retellings. I have no shame. What’s more, I was surprised when my timer went off an hour later to shape my dough.
Today I had a morning full of self care and mindfulness. I didn’t chide myself for not reading faster. I didn’t get flustered when the pepper I was adding to my oil infusion opened up like an angry vulcano. This is life, and while I can’t control what is happening outside my walls I can control how I respond to the things happening inside of them.
The bread was still fantastic, even if it made me sneeze. I plan on using it for breakfast sandwiches this morning and to sop up sauce from dinner tonight. I’m sure I’ll continue to snack on it as I read.
I hope you all are practicing self care in whatever form makes sense to you. I hope you have tasty snacks and friends who will play games with you online or tandem watch a netflix show with you. I hope you’re coping well in these trying times.
And until we are free to go out in public again, I hope you make as much bread as you need.
As ingredients are scarce right now I didn’t test my own Focaccia recipe and instead used Inspired Tastes tried and true version. It was totally worth it, even with the excess of pepper.