COVID-19 has presented us with an incredible challenge – how to stay connected while apart. It’s a challenge my family and I conquered long ago. The one thing that unites us from afar – NFL.
For some, it is when we set the clocks back. For others, it is the diminishing minutes of sunlight.
At our house, the best indicator that fall is coming is when my husband pulls out the bear feet. The fuzzy Muppet-esque slippers were a joke gift about eight years ago that has turned into a cozy tradition. When the temperatures start to drop and socks aren’t protecting his toes, he pulls out his bear feet.
So, in short, it’s fall y’all. A bit earlier than usual.
Today, I made six awesome cinnamon rolls.
It was a recipe I had made multiple times before as part of our Friday Treats morning tradition. But this batch was different. The texture. The feel.
They were perfectly imperfect.
The biggest change I made in this batch was how I rolled out the dough. In fact, I didn’t roll out the dough at all. I used my hands to stretch, pull and flatten out the cinnamon dough instead of the rolling pin. It was lumpy and more of a quad-rangle than a rectangle.
I have learned that there is a magic in the less than perfect execution in the kitchen. In fact, it is the imperfections that offer the biggest punch of flavour.
About a year ago, I purchased a cookbook for Indian cuisine. The ingredients for many of the recipes include whole seeds or pods. They aren’t chopped or ground, but added whole into the pan. When you eat the dishes, each bite is a bit different than the initial one. Different seeds and pods combine to offer a different flavour experience with every bite.
Awesome. It’s like every bite says, “Here, try this. You are going to love this.” And I do. We all do. We want to be surprised, curious.
In order to get to awesome, I have to let go of easy. Of consistency. Of perfection.
Letting go of perfection allows for a unique culinary experience. We watch shows that center around creating the perfect dish with random ingredients. We scroll through drool-worthy images on our devices. We are obsessed with perfection when the magic is often in the less than perfect dishes.
In fact, the true magic of a great meal is in the company.
It is because of this experience that I stopped using a press and begun roughly chopping garlic for marinara or soups. I use a knife and not the microplane for adding a dash of ginger. I roll out the dough for cinnamon rolls with my hands.
It’s not perfect. And that is what makes it so.
There are days when things don’t go my way. There are days that I am off and would be better if I started my morning all over again. There are days where I can’t pinpoint exactly what is wrong but it feels that way.
These are the days that I have a conversation with my eight-year-old self.
For some reason, imagining a conversation with a younger me has always been a great way to put a different spin on the situation. To see my current routine through the eyes of a child.
For instance, here is the latest one I had after a day of roasting coffee, grocery shopping and cleaning our vacation suite:
Me at 43: Today I went to the store to buy groceries for dinner.
Me at 8: With the magic card?
43: My debit, yes.
8: Did you buy Reece’s Pieces for dinner with the magic card?
43: Um, no. Tofu and broccoli.
8: . . . Tofu . . . Is that another word for Reece’s Pieces?
43: No. It’s a form of protein.
8: Like peanut butter . . .
8: In Reece’s Pieces.
43: . . . Annnnnnd, then I cleaned the vacation suite.
8: To earn money for Reece’s Pieces.
43: Sure. Why not?
It became obvious that I have let down my 8-year-old self that dinners didn’t consist of any form of Reece’s Pieces. I guess I didn’t realize how obsessed I was with the candy as a child. Or perhaps the lesson learned here is that maybe my daily routine needs to incorporate a bit more impulsive behavior.
Either way, my eight-year-old self has decided not to become an adult at all. Especially since Reece’s Pieces becomes tofu.
“It’s good for business.”
“I can help support the causes I believe in or are a part of.”
“I can stay in touch with people.”
“I enjoy it.”
These are just a few of the stories I have told myself about my membership to Facebook. These are just a few of the things I would say, hoping to believe, everytime I logged into the social media app.
These are the things every social media app hopes people believe.
The truth of it is, for me, I would log in with the hope that I would further my connection with a long-lost college buddy or extend the reach of the local curling club. What I found was that I would discard my device in rage after reading a post of the FYI groups of my community. I would spend a large portion of my day crafting a response to some idiotic comment. I often left feeling less connected to the world around me and one step closer to moving to an isolated island where the husband, myself and the cat can live out our lives as hermits.
I’m not that person. I am a person of hope. I am a bundle of positivity. I want to connect with my community.
Lately I have been looking at the stories I tell myself. The ones that keep me rooted in patterns that no longer serve the person I am becoming. Some of them are about self-judgement (I’m not enough) and others are outdated (like I shouldn’t wear a shirt that shows my bra straps). It’s odd how our mind picks up random nuggets and turns them into stones that prevent us from doing something new.
One of the stories I was telling myself was that I needed Facebook for business. While it helps, truth of it is — I’m not afraid to do it without Facebook. In fact, businesses existed long before social media and some of the best promotion isn’t likes on a device but word of mouth. I am my business and I can connect better with customers without the go-between.
This went on for a couple of weeks. I would open the app, and ask myself why I was there. Was there an actual need or more the fear of missing out that had me reaching for my device.
As I waded through the stories I told myself, I realized that the application no longer had any use for me. I was actually doing better without it.
I made the decision, choice, to step away from the application. And it worked for me. To the point, that I am looking at the stories I am telling myself in other areas of my life (like checking in on the daily COVID-19 cases count).
Needless to say, I am closing the book on a lot of the tales I’ve been telling myself.
What are your stories?
Mix. Stir. Bake. Cool. Eat.
It’s a basic recipe for everything and anything that comes out of the oven. But it’s not the basics that have the world turning their ovens up to 350 degrees and reaching for the sourdough starter.
It is hope. The secret ingredient in every creation that comes out of our kitchen.
I always knew that focusing on the cups and teaspoons helped my anxious mind. It gave me something to focus on; almost meditative in the flow and gentle whirl of the mixing machine. It’s calming to an oddly, ironic way to hit a snag or missing ingredient and tap into my troubleshooting self to find a workaround.
But the real magic is when I take my creation, in its raw state, and put it in the oven. Whether it is muffins, bagels, or homemade pizza, there is hope. Hope that the kitchen will soon smell amazing. Hope that all of the acids, leaveners, and spices play nice. Hope that what I have measured, stirred, and whipped will be fantastically yummy.
I think that is why so many people have turned to the Internet for how-to videos and recipe blogs. It is more than they have time and a bag of flour on their hands. They need to feel like they are creating something to share with others . . . hope.
Keep baking. Keep creating. Keep your hope rising.
PS: Here are just a few pictures from our latest kitchen endeavours!