I've been trying to write this post for a week now and it's been a real struggle. I'm such an advocate for being vulnerable until the time comes for me to actually BE vulnerable. (Practice what you preach, whydoncha!?)
I've struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life. To some, this comes as a complete surprise and to others it's glaringly obvious. I've talked about anxiety on this blog a few times but I'm always hesitant to bust out the term depression because it means a million different things to a million different people. For some it means a crippling disease that prevents them from getting out of bed in the morning. For some it means a loss of appetite and for others it means eating uncontrollably. Some will deal with it for a short amount of time and others will battle it every single day of their lives. It meant something unique to my grandmother and it meant something unique to my mother and it means something unique for me. I'm lucky to not be as crippled by it as both of them were. For me what it boils down to is this: "happy" is simply not my natural state. If I want to feel happy then I need to be intentional about doing things (including surrounding myself with people) that make me happy. If I don't make it happen then it's not going to happen. Funny how the simplest concepts are often the ones that take us the longest to learn.
Here's where I make a cheesy (but totally true) metaphor about bread and life.
Making bread requires intentionality. You can't just randomly decide to whip it up. You need to set aside a few hours and make a commitment to be present. You have to be watchful. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty. But if you put in the time and the effort you are left with a beautiful product that you can be proud of and that can be shared with others. It's tedious, but like most hard things in life it's so worth it.
French BreadFrom The Cooking Channel
Makes 2 Loaves
- 2 packets active dry yeast
- 1/2 Cup warm water
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 3 1/2 to 4 Cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- Olive oil, for greasing bowl
- Cornmeal, for dusting pan
- 4 ice cubes
- Combine the yeast, warm water (check the packet for required temperature; usually it should be around 110 degrees) and honey in a bowl. Let sit for 5-7 minutes or until mixture has begun to foam.
- Meanwhile, combine the flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. slowly add the yeast mixture. Gradually add up to a cup of warm water until the mixture forms a ball. Do not let it get sticky- if you accidentally add too much water just add a bit more flour to balance it out.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic; about 4 minutes. Form into a ball and place into a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. (I put mine in my turned-off oven)
- Once dough has risen, return to the floured surface. Punch it down and divide it in half. Roll each half into a flat rectangle with a rolling pin, then shape into a loaf by folding the sides into the middle "hot dog style." pinch the seam and repeat, stretching the loaf lengthwise as you go. You should end up with a loaf that is about 2 inches wide and 12-14 inches long. Don't worry if it's not perfect; it will be delicious no matter what. Score the tops of the loaves with diagonal slits, about 1/2 inch deep.
- Place the loaves on a cookie sheet that has been dusted with cornmeal. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and position your racks with one in the middle and one on the very bottom. Place a non-glass, oven-safe dish on the bottom rack. Once your loaves have risen place the cookie sheet on the middle rack and quickly throw 4 ice cubes in the bottom dish and close the oven door. (The steam will make for a nice, crispy crust) Bake the baguettes until golden, about 15 minutes.
With goat cheese and fig jam
With creamy butternut squash soup
With ricotta & honey
With Guinness beef stew
With carrot apple ginger soup