my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

February 2, 2011

baking from scratch

yesterday was an alexander type of day. you know the kind, just a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and it just seems like nothing goes right. that was so my yesterday. and though i said in yesterday's post that all i wanted to do was climb back in bed and pull the covers up over my head, i was unable to. still, anybody that knows me knows that i have another coping strategy just as healthy as hiding in bed. i bake!

of course, sweet smells from the oven always help in horrible situations. and the sugar rush is a pretty nice bonus. my favorite aspect of baking is how organized and orderly it is. as long as you follow the recipe right, then you know that good things will be coming out in the end. something you can actually count on when everything else is going wrong.

i do have some standard, go-to, make me feel good type recipes, but yesterday, i wanted to try something different. partly because one of the other things i do to make myself feel better is to read cook books and imagine all the yummy things that i could be making. the process of cooking is something i enjoy, so just reading a recipe and going through the steps i my mind sometimes is enough to make me feel better. and there's certainly less dishes to wash that way.

so out of the cook books i got for christmas, i picked a new recipe to try. but of course i was missing a few of the key ingredients. which was par for the course yesterday. now, i could have just picked a different recipe, or made a few substitutions, but instead i decided to use my head to solve this little problem of mine. my head and the internet.

first i needed some brown sugar. that is actually an easy fix. i learned a long time ago that brown sugar is just white sugar mixed with molasses, it's really nothing fancy. before, i used to think it was sugar from some special stage i the refining process. oh those tricky sugar barons, making me actually buy stuff that i can make myself with things i have on hand all the time. now, i do realize that not everybody keeps molasses in their cupboards, but i don't know why not. that stuff is great, it's oh so versatile, and it keeps forever. anyway, though i knew the components of brown sugar, i was kind of fuzzy on the application. lucky for me, i knew exactly where to go for such information. the lovely joy the baker had done a whole post about it a few months ago, and i am obsessive enough that i just happened to bookmark is for a rainy day. or a day like today, when i was out of brown sugar and needed some.

i also needed some self-rising flour. the recipe for self-rising flour i found in the back of my better homes and gardens cook book. it's a sad looking, well used book, with the binding broken and pages falling out. how happy i am that in the recent editions they've switched to a 3-ring binder style. anyway, a cup of self-rising flour is just a cup of flour and a teaspoon and a half of baking powder and a little salt. super easy, and now i had all the ingredients that i needed to making exactly what i wanted.

which, of course, i did. dark brown sugar and butter, eggs and vanilla and flour. i threw in some walnuts and baked it in a pan. it came out all gooey, with crispy edges, such happiness. and because i was having a bad day, i decided to melt some dark and white chocolate chips on top, you know, just to really make myself feel better.

and i think it worked, because i think today is going to be a better day than yesterday. even if the world is covered in a thick layer of ice, and the kids have off of school again, and i still have laundry to put away and a bathroom to clean. right now, i'm going to enjoy my cup of coffee and a nice piece of the cookie bar i made and pretend all is right with the world.

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