Friday, April 4, 2014

baking... who knew..

In one of the many stories of infant loss that I've read lately a simple story about potatoes has stuck in my mind. I wish I could link to it, but I've lost the story in links - when I find it I will. This mother wrote about trying to make mashed potatoes some time after the death of her infant daughter..., she peeled the potatoes then stood there staring at them wondering what to do next.
That really summed it all up.. use it as an analogy if you like, something so simple as making mashed potatoes, and not 'forgetting' what to do..but just not even understanding what you're doing - in the middle of doing it.


We decided sometime in November that if we didn't host our Christmas party - which had been a hot topic since we bought the house..., well, since the last Christmas party... We couldn't imagine a quiet house over Christmas. The house was already too unusually quiet. It still bothers me if the kitchen radio isn't on 24/7.. silence makes me crazy. I feared if we didn't jump back in and do what we wanted to do.., that we never would. I think Rohan and I would have been okay with never participating in life again, but we couldn't do that to Hannah. 

I knew well enough not to take on cooking much. Erinn was contacted immediately for baking, Maltese for their awesome trays of everything, Rohan - all too eager to be distracted by cooking meat over fire, and me..., I thought I'd bake a bit. maybe make a pan of spanakopita. Which people might think I accomplished.. but, no... no, no. no...
The meltdowns in the kitchen the week prior were something off Jerry Springer. I could not for the life of me understand what 1/4 cup meant. Cup of what?!?! What the heck is a 1/4? It was like reading Chinese. Worse, these were recipes from my own blog, recipes I've done so many times that I've decided to record it.. (the foremost reason being for Hannah, her virtual cookbook of her family favourites, for when she moves away..which is coming sooner and quicker every day..)
I couldn't work my way through a sugar cookie recipe, I burned anything that got in the oven (I don't even know if any of the baking actually did - that was just dinner..).. Truffles. People might think truffles are challenging, but to any baker we know these things are actually stupid-easy: melt chocolate, cool chocolate, roll chocolate, dip chocolate... The failed attempts at this process are embarrassing, the successes were triumphant. No one ever knew of the tears that went into the 100 or so truffles that survived my shaking hand. 
I haven't followed a recipe for my 'standard pan o' spana' in years, but the night before the party there I was downloading recipes, not understanding, crying, ..and if it weren't for Rohan helping to translate we never would have had any of it. 

I used to love cooking, trying new recipes, trying my own experiments - in baking and cooking.. It's not something I've ever found difficult. Stressful sometimes, challenging in all the ways I love, but never difficult.

So to be stumped by a 1/4 cup was ...I still don't even know the right word. It's the closest I can come to understand someone with a brain injury - trying to re-learn a language.. How do you learn something you've known forever but have never seen before?

Since then I've had months of digestive upset, lack of appetite, lack of interest in food.. I've tried to cook - boiled down and burned chicken bones, burned sweet potatoes, burned toast, burned rice, ...I made pancakes one morning - messy by applauded for flavour... burned more toast... I've managed to heat frozen things, and I made banana bread once. That's about it.. 

Then come garden season, which (to me) ties in so closely with cooking. We're planning our vegetable beds, and the addition of a wood fired oven ...and with that came searches for bread recipes, and sour dough starters. Then I imagine the herbs we grow being added to those breads and baked in the backyard...and suddenly I'm reading as many recipes as I am garden blogs, 

and what comes of that..?!?!

Today, out of nowhere, I get the urge to bake, and a  Butter Pecan Cake and my favourite bread soon appear on my stovetop..neither of which I should consume right now with my tender system, but Hannah will enjoy them, (and R too...). 

The Butter Pecan Cake was posted by
Brule Creek Farms yesterday. 
Andrea's recipes are incredible...they're always successful, and full of flavour. I don't even want to eat cake right now, but this recipe make me want to bake cake. And I freaking did! I still can't believe it. Granted, it's still cooling on the stove, and it's a little toasty...but damn, I baked, and I didn't burn it to an inedible crisp. 
It was hard to not think of baking bread when reading the Brule Creek recipes. My sour dough starter will use their rye flour, so.. I made some bread. It hasn't been baked yet, so it could still be added to the burn list, but today's efforts are about the most I've accomplished in the kitchen in months, so I'm going to give the dough some hope.

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