Some Thoughts While Loafing

If you ever start to wonder just how important having. a routine is,, just wait till something comes along and messes it up.

I’ve been out of work for only one and a half weeks, but it feels so much longer. As my energy/pain levels vary from day to day (but slowly doing better!) I find myself easily losing track of time.

I’m learning, though, that’s not always a terrible thing- and maybe I was due.

20 minutes of reading on the porch becomes an hour.
Some days I wake up at 4 am like usual… and some days at 10, wondering where the day went. Any “goals” I had for my time off quickly fall by the wayside as time slips away or my energy ebbs to the point that I need to lie down. For her part, my cat recently injured herself and is spending some time in a cone. I can sympathize with how stressed she is in the thing, and we often wind up napping together.

Poor cone baby….

But on days when I have energy and the pain is reduced… I get to have a bit of fun.

[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

Before going in for surgery, I knew I wanted to spend some of my downtime making bread at home again, and top of the list was challah. I had more than a few recipes to choose from, but for my first crack I went with one from America’s Test Kitchen… albeit with my own “twist.” Namely, a cinnamon-sugar mix I’d learned from making monkey bread brioche for the bakery.

Most people don’t realize this, but challah and brioche are not the same thing. True challah needs to be able to be eaten regardless of whether the meal has meat or dairy in it- so it can’t have the milk and butter that brioche does. Instead, oil, eggs, and yolks are used to make a rich, fluffy, but sturdy bread that can stand up to being braided and baked. The famous braids are typically made with six strands- representing the Six Days of Creation in Genesis, and the act of braiding them representing the interconnection of all things.

I’ve made bagels and hamantaschen already, so for a Jewish baker, making a decent challah has to come next. I’ll work on babka later.

As I was braiding the long, stretched ropes of rich yellow dough, I could understand why this bread is so special. It takes time and patience (like all raised breads.) It takes grace, dexterity, and forethought- and it rewards you with serenity, once you understand the pattern of the braid.

(I may have practiced a bit with Twizzlers… try that one with your kids.)

So much of what I want to do will take more time than I want to give it, or myself- regardless of how much energy I have. While I still love writing, I’ve lately been reading more ink on pages than writing my own… but nothing comes from nothing- and I need to remember that “rest” includes resting the mind.

That said, now that I’m well on the way to recovering, I do want to enjoy more from my time away from the bakery. That means establishing a new routine- one that makes time for resting, baking, writing, and walking (the only exercise I can safely do at the moment.)

I still have about a week or so before I’m due to return to the bakery, and what happens after that… well, we’ll see. But I fully intend on letting my body heal, but exercising my mind and ideas as much as possible.

For right now though, thanks for bearing with me and remember to

Stay Classy,

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