It’s difficult to watch someone suffer. I never seem to find the right words, especially when a friend is a long way away. I want to spring into action and get in the car and drive to where I need to be in order to fix things.
But that isn’t a possibility right now.
I listen and oftentimes I cry and we text and message and life keeps moving . . . and it doesn’t seem like enough.
So this post is for friends who suffer. I don’t have the answers to a lot of things, but if there is one thing I do know how to do – it is feed my feelings. When I discovered this bread recipe I jumped all over it. It seemed very straightforward and the accompanying pictures were helpful. To my surprise, the finished product actually came out looking exactly the way the loaves were supposed to look. I haven’t bought a loaf of bread since.
I’m not a baker. I love to cook, and have always found the act of cooking to be therapeutic. Baking? Can’t stand it. It’s too precise. All that measuring, all those extra dishes to wash . . . it just sucks all the fun out of cooking.
So why am I recommending baking two loaves of bread to my friends who are struggling right now?
Because there is something meditative and soothing about this recipe. Yes, you have to measure carefully. But then you get to rest for an hour as the dough slowly doubles.
Return to the kitchen to punch down the dough and shape into two balls that then rest for 10 more minutes. You should sit with a cup of hot chocolate.
Shape the dough into two loaves (follow this advice on how to do it – it’s like folding a huge, yeasty envelope) and allow them to rest for another 30 minutes. Go put your feet up and watch an episode of your favorite show. (I’ve been binge watching Louie when I can’t sleep.)
Come back to your bread and pop the loaves into the oven for 30 minutes of filling your home with the smell of love, and goodness, and comfort. You should read a book while this happens.
When the timer goes off, remove the loaves from the oven and completely ignore anyone (including the recipe author) fool enough to tell you to allow them to cool for a few minutes in the pan. No. You pop those crusty babies right out onto a cutting board and use an oven mitt to hold it while you slice into it with a large serrated knife. Ease a thick slice onto a plate and immediately put at LEAST two slices of butter onto it.
Stand and watch the butter melt. You should hug yourself while it soaks into your bread. I know that sounds silly. Do it anyway.
Now. Go find the most comfortable seat in your home and eat your slice of bread. It’s OK if your eyes roll into the back of your head with your first bite. Don’t fight that.
I recommend baking two loaves of bread to anyone fighting depression or anxiety because the steps are small enough that they won’t overwhelm you but the process is long enough that it will get you through a large chunk of your day. I recommend it because afterwards you will have something warm and soothing to enjoy. I recommend it because you can take hunks of bread with you to work or with you to the bathroom (if you’re hiding from kids) for the rest of the week and each time you enjoy a slice you can think to yourself “I did this. I put one foot in front of the other and I did this. I nourished my soul and my palate and my tummy and my nose and my hands. I kneaded and measured and folded and baked. I did it.”
The next time you feel as if you may not get through the day, or feel alone, or feel lost . . . bake two loaves of bread. And save some for me. Because I will be there for you.