I've had a couple of rough weeks. My preschooler is livelier than ever, the baby refuses to nap, and my PMS returned after a one and half year reprieve. My mood could best be pictured by a flock of rabid harpies flying straight out of Dante's Inferno. Luckily I remembered my motto, written in magnetic letters on my old dishwasher:
I do believe that cooking, and especially baking, has a therapeutic effect. But I'm not talking about the serene yoga-bliss advertised by slender crafters and macaroon-enthusiasts with lovely wavy locks on Pinterest (not that I'm judging). My baking therapy is an emergency intervention to save me and my family from an imminent, cataclysmic nervous breakdown.
I'm not sure how this works, exactly, but I know that as I prep the dough, my anger dissipates. It might be that I get an outlet from the ultra speed and strength I apply to mixing the ingredients while rabidly biting on a kitchen towel. More effective than punching a wall or screaming in my nursing pillow: Baking gives my anger a worthy purpose and a crowd-pleasing result. Baking with Anger also brings an unexpected bonus. When you're angry, you tend to be less precise, often adding more of the ingredients you need. Your shaky, frenzied hands will sprinkle too much salt, chop too many olives, melt too much butter, and add way too much baking powder. (I made some furious pancakes that looked like country loaves once. They were amazing.)
|A savory muffin filled with hate.|
So yesterday, when I was on the brink of explosion, I decided to make muffins. Just announcing the intention of making muffins is a great start towards mental healing: Kids are immediately made happy and, more importantly, SILENT by the idea that they are soon going to have their favorite treat.
I used this recipe for "savoury muffins" from Grab Your Spork, which calls for olives, spinach, dried tomatoes, and feta (the last thing you need in these dire times is to shove sugar-based muffins in your preschooler's mouth). I didn't have all the required ingredients, so I ended up with olive tapenade, chopped leftover kale, grated Parmigiano, and turmeric, because now I basically add it to everything. The muffins turned out great: super-flavorful, soft, and moist. My son ate 6 of them in 24 hours, which is not completely surprising since he has his parents' appetite, but still.
|Notice the hand of a happy child.|