"Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit." Elbert Hubbard

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Baking as therapy

There's something about baking just for the sheer pleasure in it. The creation process that goes from raw ingredients to hot, fresh from the oven, smells oh so good. I have realized that since my return from Iraq, I seem to be doing it as therapy without knowing it. What led me to this conclusion is the fact that I have given away almost all of what I've made even before I was diagnosed as diabetic.

As I look back through my life, I can see how there was always an interest in baking. Of course in my younger days it was all pre-made mixes out of a box. But being young without a focus, and too many interests in other things, it never really developed.

It's only now in my mid-forties that I'm looking at it as what I want to do for the rest of my life. I would like to do it for a living but am prepared to accept it as just a sideline if that's how my life goes. My military career is drawing to a close after twenty-six years and making my living in the culinary world seems to be the only thing that brings out any passion and interest for me (aside from books of course). I need to do something that I love and care about, just punching a clock for a living at a job is living death as far as I'm concerned.

My ultimate goal is to be involved in food somehow. My dream is to open a small cafe or make and sell baked goods at farmer's markets. Only time will tell if I realize those dreams. Who knows what the future holds, I sure don't.

I do know the satisfaction of watching others eat what I've made. It tells me I've done something good. That I can create a solid, tangible thing that not only is sustenance, but pleasureable to people. Something real. I've taken good things from the earth; grains, fruits, and vegetables and turned them into a finished product that gives someone nutrition and is pleasing to the palate.

The two instructors I had this past semester told me I had talent and worthy goals. Their words meant something to me and I have to pursue it.

"[Breadbaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells...there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel, that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread." M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating


  1. This is a great expression of the power of baking- the kitchen is indeed a respite when life is overwhelming. :) It's wonderful how you see baking and cooking as a way of reaching out to others. I hope that you are able to continue to grow what is obviously a gift in you! --Emma

  2. So I'm following "The life of a damn fool"... and what a life it has been.

  3. I am in complete agreement with you...there is something about baking that calls to me. It is an activity I yearn for when I want comforting. I want to put the ingredients together and then I want to enjoy the results, both the sensory and the olfactory results. I want to view my creation and smell it, then eat it, still warm, soft, crusty,melting in my mouth, crumbling down the front of my shirt. I don't feel the need to over-indulge, usually after my initial taste I enjoy sharing it with my family. It is more the act of creating and enjoying along with sharing that makes the experience whole for me. It would be incomplete if I could not share with others. Lately, I have been very busy, with adding a new puppy to the household, and I have had no time to bake, or even cook supper. My husband is pre-diabetic and so, I am trying to find new ways of feeding the family that will ultimately benefit all of us. But finding the time is hard. I have been yearning to bakes dog biscuits, trying different recipes until I find the right one, liked by me and enjoyed by my canines (4). Then I want to package them in some jars I have been collecting for this purpose and sell them. I will always donate a portion to the shelter in Manahawkin, where I volunteer and walk the dogs.It may not be much at first, but I anticipate it will grow, slowly but surely. Old Sarge, maybe if you add that element to your baking you will find your path. Start to sell your creations at craft sales and flea markets and donate a portion to your favorite charity. Let the public know that a portion of all of your sales will go to that charity. Over time I think you will see your sales grow and you will be donating to a worthy cause close to your heart. My mother always taught me that when you give you receive, not always in the way you expect but always in the way you truly need. Best of luck, Mary Beth