Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baking as Aroma Therapy

Every time I go home, I remember the things that I miss about being there. I’m not trying to sound nostalgic or anything, but we all have those comforts and little things we forget about when we are at school. Now, as much as I love home cooked meals, comfortable beds, and being able to shower barefoot, the one thing that I always realize I miss most is baking.

For me, baking is more than a process. It is not a chore, or even a means to an end. Of course I love snacking along the way on the batter and dough that can potentially give me salmonella. And it is always rewarding to devour the cakes and cookies that I am left with at the end of a sometimes tedious and grueling afternoon in a hot kitchen. I’d also be lying if I told you I did not do it for the sweet perfume that only a working oven can fill a house with. But in truth, all of that is really not the point. Baking is a form of therapy.

I took up baking during my junior year of high school, and soon realized that sometimes it was the only thing that could take my mind off of the stressful things in life. It has the power to completely remove me from whatever has been occupying my mind and transport me outside my own head. Through the beating and stirring, whipping and folding, icing, slicing, and dicing, measuring and chopping, I am temporarily able to focus on nothing more than the stand mixer and sheet tray in front of me.

At the end, covered in flour and feeling a little sick from the handfuls of chocolate chips I’ve consumed, I feel ready to return to the real world one treat richer and worry-free. Well, that might be an overstatement, but it absolutely does clear my mind. I find that those things that had worked themselves into knots in my brain have softened and unraveled, allowing me to face the trials of life a little bit fuller and a lot more relaxed.

So to all of you out there who have a kitchen: use it. The next time that you are feeling like life has thrown you more than you can handle or that you’ve bit off more than you can chew, pull out your whisk and show that oven some lovin’.

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