Important as vaccination boosters are (if we care about everyone’s life, including our own), there are also a couple other boosters I’d like to suggest.
Baking for one. Don’t laugh. I’m serious. There’s nothing quite like the aroma of fresh bread hot from the oven. It warms one’s heart as well as tummy. Well-shaped and scored into a lovely design–a beautiful creation of your own making–it has to make you smile in satisfaction.
I’ve always baked bread, croissants, pies, cakes, cookies, and more. I don’t buy what I can produce myself with better ingredients than additive-laden grocery offerings. During the pandemic I’ve ramped up my frequency and quantity–bread every two or three days; croissants once a month, cookies a constant, meat and vegetable pies, cakes, even French pastries occasionally.
Now I know some people find all the above too time-consuming, too-demanding, too much trouble. But I’m here to say that’s not the case–especially during a pandemic. Where are you going anyway? Most of us are spending a great deal more time at home, whether we work from home or not. So why not take lost minutes spent surfing the internet or texting and put them to good–and delicious–use?
What I love about baking bread is it really doesn’t take that much time. Nor many ingredients–flour, yeast or starter, water, a bit of salt. Once the kneading has been done, it pretty much takes care of itself. It rises all by itself for a couple of hours, then all you have to do is stick it in the oven. You and your family will love it–fresh and warm with a bit of butter, or for sandwiches all week.
Croissants are a bit more involved, but not as difficult as you might think. And the result is glorious for breakfast or tea.
I can do laundry or paint or pay bills or vacuum or dust during risings. Baking never robs one of getting things accomplished.
The other delight of baking is sharing. I often give my neighbors or friends cookies or croissants and I just mailed valentine cookies (shortbread hearts with chocolate frosting) to my 3 kids and their families thousands of miles away (the cookies are special and the connection to my wonderful children is important enough to justify the postal costs).
Cooking and baking are triumphal occurrences during troubled times. Will we go to war with Russia in the Ukraine? Will Covid-19 continue beyond any fathomable calculation? Will gas and grocery prices continue to soar? Will our children experience normal school ever again? Will weather disasters increase and climate change continue to be mostly ignored? Will crime and violence in our cities grow exponentially? Will all migrant children Trump separated from their parents be reunited with their families? Will Uyghurs escape persecution? Will everyone who helped us get out of Afghanistan? Will an asteroid destroy earth? How many endless worries circulate! Difficulties are worth addressing or solving if we can. Praying about them helps, too. But just plain worrying does nothing. My dad used to say “Worrying is distrust of God.” When we’ve done all we can to help a disturbing situation, then we have to let it go, leave it to experts. Or to God. We can’t let it steal our joy.
One simple thing we can do to bolster our spirits: bake. We can make a beautiful breakfast–sticky buns, or Swedish coffee cake, a pile of pancakes, or a slither of crepes stuffed with salmon and spinach. We can even let this creativity flow to lunchtime and create a colorful vegetable salad, a cup of homemade soup, with cheese biscuits on the side. By dinner we might be ready to try a new chicken recipe and serve it by candlelight for no particular occasion–just because you can, just because it will please those who come to the table. And don’t forget a bouquet of flowers for the table–even thoughtfully chosen roadside weeds or winter holly fill a ceramic vase handsomely.
Everything can be delicious and beautiful. A speck of deliciousness, of beauty, of anything good boosts!
Artwork: Kitchen Still Life, watercolor, approx. 18″ x 24″. Sold. How many times I find myself doing still life! Either one I set up for my students that intrigued me, too. Or one I noticed in my kitchen and merely added a bit or slid a vase closer to the window. All the issues involved in a landscape are present in a still life. They are excellent studies in light and stand on their own as valued works. Some still life setups, like this one, have a feminine quality, an intimacy, yet a vibrancy that inspires.