Hello Bakers and Friends,
We did it! Ragged and weary, we’ve reached the finish line of 2020 and have popped up on the other side winter in a brave new world. Gotta love do-overs and fresh starts! While January lst 2021 can’t possibly be a moment of instant healing at least we can now see the cavalry (vaccine) on the horizon. So take solace in that, stay cozy and/or stir-crazy and let’s puddle our way into a bright year ahead. I can chat about my big take-aways of last year but I'll start with my 2020 little landmarks.
Last year was the occasion of buying my first hand mixer (a cordless Kitchenaid). I also switched food processors three times until I settled on one, discovered the fun of making prettier pies with wee little decorative cutters, finally found malt and buttermilk powder online, pulled a Martha Stewart on my spice jars overall, and bought a new rolling pin on Etsy (I haven’t had a new pin since 1987). Somewhere around June 2020, I decided cheap celebrity perfumes aren’t all bad; Love by Sofia Vegara is a gem as is Madonna's Truth or Dare.
I upped my reading game, coursing through non-fiction and epics like Middlesex without a focus I haven't had since my teens. I’ve settled down and read books while the TV and Netflix stayed silent. I discovered Jane Austen derivative novels and Alice Hoffman’s Magic trilogy, did a deeper dive into the lives and trials of America’s pioneers in a book about the Donner Party called The Best Land Under the Sun. I read Maybe You Should Talk To Someone and the young adult book, Everyday which is charming. For my book club, I had more trendy book choices garnered via Good Reads, NY Times Books, GMA and Oprah suggestions which led me to conclude that 2021 is the year I use my own instinct to choose what my reading gals will be enjoying.
I curated a playlist for my Click and Grow. Big success. If you want copious harvest of dill and basil, play a lot of Charlie Puth and Astor Pizzailoa. If you want heathy parsley, try Copeland's Appalacian Suite and the soundtrack of Dear Evan Hansen (apparently my parsley loves Broadway).
2020 did bring me some other realizations. One of my biggest take-aways from this past year has been the permission to be still, to slow down and go within. Discounting all the abject, sheer misery that defined 2020 it's also been all about it being ok to lie low. Not everyone thrives on that but for me, an urban homesteader and frag head, it's been a happy cocoon. It reminds me of a tango class I once had that was about how to dance in ‘close embrace’ aka snuggle up to your partner tightly as possible. My partner (at the time) and I were chastised to ‘go closer’ until we were virtually laminated together. “You’re not dancing close enough, that's not the Argentine way’, scolded the tango teacher. Seriously? When in life does anyone tell you it’s ok, heck it’s even a rule to be more affectionate? And that is what the sheltered life has been on many days: that encouragement to just ‘be’, to read that extra book, or research something you were always curious about or let your hair go wild but wear double the perfume. It has been a reminder that just watching a bird land on a spruce branch or catch the sunrise and really see it for the first time in years is an extraordinary blessing of just being present. I had to laugh about this the other day when I asked a friend what she and her husband had planned for the following day which was a Wednesday. Her husbanded said, ‘Umm, didn’t you say we needed a cantaloupe’. It took a minute until we started laughing until our sides hurt because life had slowed down so much that a field trip to safely buy the perfect cantaloupe was the structure and focus of day.
2020 has been a reminder that just watching a bird land on a spruce branch or catch the sunrise and really see it is an extraordinary blessing of just being present. I had to laugh about this the other day when I asked a friend what she and her husband had planned for the following day which was a Wednesday. Her husband said, ‘Didn't you say we needed a cantaloupe’. It took a minute until we both started laughing until our sides hurt because life had slowed down so much that a field trip to safely buy the perfect cantaloupe was the structure and focus of day.
I'm wishing you a beautiful unfolding of the first day of new year. In these parts, there's a blanket of new snow that's fallen while I slept. No tracks are yet to be laid; there’s no story written; a frosty white tableau awaits that first imprint of a fresh start. Let's all jump in and mess up the snowy canvas because at the moment, we are still indeed, all in this together.
Your village baker and friend in flour,
Author, Master Baker