Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘baking

Coping Mechanisms

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A speedy recovery from a day of dramatic events involves more than time alone. Humans can be very inventive about devising ways of coping with stress. Health professionals might commonly recommend meditation, exercise, or soothing music. Non-professionals might lobby for mind-altering substances, shopping sprees, or aggressive video games.

I am never shy about flaunting the marvels of forest bathing.

Most people agree that caring for pets brings on a wealth of mental health benefits. We have a fair share of creatures relying on us for sustenance, with chickens being greatest in number. Cyndie has figured out the trick to renewing their interest in venturing from the coop during the days.

While I pushed to let them figure out for themselves that they can walk the packed snow pathways to get to the dry earth under the barn overhang, Cyndie preferred to provide them a straw surface on which to tread.

They liked Cyndie’s plan much better than mine.

We’ve figured out a way to help the chickens cope with snow. The wimps.

As for my interest in controlling the amount of sugar in my diet, it is forever challenged by my passion for other carbs. Yesterday, Cyndie decided to cope with her residual stress by baking seven loaves of bread

There goes my diet.

Four of those loaves are breakfast bread. Enough said.

I’ll cope just fine.

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Written by johnwhays

January 8, 2021 at 7:00 am

Baking Therapy

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After surgery, most people opt for physical therapy to aid in healing and recovery. This weekend Cyndie appeared to be working on reclaiming her former knee strength by way of baking Christmas cookies of almost every variety. With the COVID-19 pandemic decimating innumerable facets of what we consider normalcy this year, I am awestruck over Cyndie’s motivation to carry on her massive holiday baking tradition without the usual support staff of friends or extended family.

To do it all alone is wildly impressive. To do it alone on a painful wounded knee is rather beyond the call of duty if I do say so myself.

The sum total of my assistance involved taking full responsibility for animal chores, which I was doing anyway so she wouldn’t have to walk more than she already does around the house.

I couldn’t even maintain my reputation as a taste-tester. The batches were coming out of the oven too fast to keep up. I think I exceeded my self-inflicted strict ration of ingested sugar simply by breathing in the smell of fresh warm cookies all day long.

I just didn’t have the gastrointestinal stamina to pound that many test tastes in such a short span of time.

I am curious to find out how the baking therapy worked out for her knee on the day after. She has a follow-up appointment today with the surgeon to check on progress. I wonder if he might suggest eating fresh-baked holiday cookies to help her deal with the residual pain of the excavated bone behind her knee.

It would, at the very least, be easier than working upright in the kitchen all day…

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Written by johnwhays

December 14, 2020 at 7:00 am

Multiple Pies

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The new oven plays a cute little tune when it reaches the temperature setting. I heard that song a lot yesterday, between the pies and gramma Betty buns Cyndie baked for customers and family members who are on her planned delivery route this morning.

Apple pies, pecan pies, and pumpkin pies (not shown) were options that customers of the White Pine Berry Farm could pre-order for Thanksgiving. Of course, Cyndie chose to make extra in order to have one of each for us to cut into for “testing purposes.”

Based on the results, testing probably wasn’t necessary. They were perfectly delicious.

She caught me in a happy mindset, so I was easy to please. Investors seemed pretty giddy yesterday after the Biden announcement of his cabinet picks, pushing the Dow past 30,000 for the first time ever. I heard some interviews with appointees and the President-Elect himself and witnessed level headed informative assessments of current realities that were completely free of conspiracy theories and hyperbolic rhetoric.

It was awe-inspiring for its complete lack of bombast.

Even as the pandemic spreads like wild around us, there is a growing measure of hope for a new normal that will be devoid of mockery and bullying from the highest offices of the new administration, where staff will no longer be required to parrot the company line or be shown the door.

It’s the honeymoon period. There’ll be time soon enough to call the next administration on their failures to live up to promises. For now, I am enjoying the breath of fresh air.

Have they promised a pie for everyone’s kitchen counter yet? They should.

I know someone who is pretty good at baking them.

(Oy. Think of how much test tasting that would involve…)

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Written by johnwhays

November 25, 2020 at 7:00 am

Flashing Back

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I was looking for an image last night and found myself exploring a folder of photos from five years ago this month. Brings back memories.

My, those horses kept that pasture well-manicured.

It is interesting how we adjust our lives to the changing circumstances swirling around us in each given moment or situation. I’ve already forgotten the daily routine of caring for our horses. It’s been 20 months since we returned them to their previous home and herds. They are dearly missed, but I certainly appreciated the freedom from managing concerns about hay and wild weather and daily manure scooping under the overhang.

We still nurture dreams of finding a way to make our pastures available to nearby rescue organizations during summer months in the future.

There is a big void here without the presence of horse energy vibrations.

Now we allow the chickens a greater amount of our attention and this year of 2020, with its protests, pandemics, and politics, combined with the final months of Cyndie’s dad’s life, have commanded a bulk of our limited mental resources.

It’s invigorating to think back to better times and remember how different life was only a half-decade ago.

With the pandemic spreading unchecked we are in for a strange couple of holidays this season. Home alone is taking on a whole new meaning.

I think I’ll be diving into multiple flashbacks of Thanksgivings and Christmases throughout my life in order to distract from how odd this year has turned out.

Do you wonder if all the U.S. Thanksgiving Day Zoom gatherings will bog down the internet next week? If ever there was a time to have “smell-o-vision” built into the app, the aroma of the turkey feasts wafting from kitchens around the country would be a particularly valuable addition to the virtual family visits.

Trust me, if I could share the incredible smells when Cyndie bakes my mom’s sweet bread bun recipe (Gramma Betty’s Buns), I certainly would. It’s too much for one man to consume. I’ll be on aroma overload.

Come to think of it, that just might be a way to overwhelm the coronavirus. I need to contact the vaccine research people and let ’em know I may have stumbled on to a solution that doesn’t require insanely cold freezers during distribution and storage.

With Cyndie’s tendency to bake enough for millions, we could be looking at a way out of this “stay at home” protocol much sooner than currently predicted. Although, one side effect to note, I think I gain weight by simply breathing in the scrumptious smell of these fresh-baked morsels of goodness.

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Written by johnwhays

November 19, 2020 at 7:00 am

Main Topics

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There are two primary topics dominating life around Wintervale lately: chickens and baking. Each having nothing to do with the other.

Last night it was all baking.

Super-sized apple cider oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and strawberry hand-pies custom ordered by the berry farm.

I contributed to the best of my ability. They both tasted delicious.

This morning, the chickens will get our main attention.

I suppose the dog and cat are feeling a little left out of things. Pequenita has been relentless at seeking attention whenever I venture near the bedroom –our bed being her preferred domain. Delilah will get some extra adventure later today when I take her exploring off-trails in our woods looking for evidence related to the raucous coyote howling we endured Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

I’m hoping that pack of predators are all well-fed now and won’t have any reason to hang around our property on the very day we plan to let our chickens get their first taste of free-ranging.

It all serves as a reminder we are living the country life.

I guess the two main topics could better be labeled, baking and pets.

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Written by johnwhays

October 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

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Change’s Sake

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My immense aversion to changes in software that was working just fine for me leads me to think that perhaps I am getting old.

Is it a problem for you, dear readers, that I don’t have little icons on this blog for sundry social media sites of the latest trend? Has my neglect to format the appearance to best suit the portrait orientation of mobile devices left you frustrated?

Ever find yourself wondering why my blog doesn’t include links to sites for purchasing products I promote, or a button allowing you to donate money to sustain my lifestyle?

These are all features that I have chosen to ignore, despite frequent WordPress marketing messages encouraging me to incorporate.

In March of 2009, I searched for a platform to publish my “take on things and experiences” and found a template ‘theme’ that matched my tastes. I’ve seen no reason to change since.

The word-cloud I selected for the side margin of my posts slowly changes over time, not always to my ideal, but it’s simply a reflection of what I write about the most, so I let it go.

Truth in advertising.

After some trial and error tinkering, sometimes requiring mystery clicks on vague icons with unclear popup titles, I have reached a mostly functional equilibrium that reasonably matches my previous editing experience.

I do miss the running word-count information that previously displayed at the bottom of my view as I typed.

With time, I will learn whether or not that’s a feature I can add back, as I explore the myriad other repackaged ways WordPress has changed my blogging experience to make it so much better.

Okay, never mind. I just clicked the “help” icon at the bottom of my view and learned I can click an information icon at the top of the screen to find that information.

That was at 308 words, if you care.

Which is more than enough to call for an end to my whining about change for change’s sake.

How about a bit of boasting about the other burden I so often face as the spouse of one who loves to bake?

I keep getting asked to sample and review the latest delicious morsels being baked under a constantly changing mix of ingredients and techniques.

 

My judgements might be influenced unfairly by the fact I usually enjoy the advantage of performing these tests on goods fresh and warm from the oven, but the taste analyses are probably universal.

Cyndie is gaining proficiency with each refinement she makes.

We make a pretty good team.

I credit our ability to change with the times, albeit sometimes kicking and whining all the way.

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Written by johnwhays

October 3, 2020 at 8:28 am

Evading Capture

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The mind moves so much faster than words. Thoughts are like delicate athletic dances as compared to the awkward stumbling of sentences and paragraphs. In the blink of my right eye, indescribable realizations swirl through my head, launching emotions and chemical responses throughout my body in immeasurable doses before a single word begins to form in my mind.

Conversely, at the times when my busy brain is babbling on with endless mindless verbiage, the words appear from an absence of actual thought. There are no images playing. The screen is simply blank. Words are heard, not seen.

As I write this, there are delectable aromas of home-baked apple crisp wafting from the kitchen. It’s distracting. The scrumptiousness defies description, but my mind knows how to interpret it and launches into one of those delicate dances. It’s a joyful dance.

It’s a dance my sugar addiction is very fond of.

My taste buds have no complaints about it, either.

Before I finished writing this post, Cyndie presented a sample, hot out of the oven. `A la mode.

This batch tasted even better than it smelled. I’d describe it to you, but, well… you know.

Think about love. Let that ethereal concept dance through your mind and you will have a vague sense of my apple crisp and ice cream experience.

Mmmm. See if that evades your capture.

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Written by johnwhays

September 25, 2020 at 6:00 am

Star Baker

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This week’s star baker on the Wintervale Baking Show is, Cyndie!

She nailed the technical challenge and remembered to proof the dough and chose a perfect combination of organic berry flavors for fillings.

The White Pine Berry Farm called again, this time with a request for full pies. Cyndie was more than happy to oblige and I was the beneficiary of testing tastes. Try as I might, I always fall ridiculously short of copying the expert critiquing commentary Paul Hollywood dishes out on The Great British Baking Show.

I think it’s my lack of that accent.

That, and I have a vested interest in preserving our marriage.

My beloved multitasked caring for her 13 [Hah! Baker’s dozen!] baby chicks in the brooder down at the barn throughout the day while also flinging flour, measuring butter, and exercising the oven door hinge back in the kitchen.

Oh, and throw in serving up parmesan chicken for dinner, during which we checked out the local PBS rebroadcast of the season 3 quarterfinals of the GBBS.

It sounds exhausting, but she is not the only one working hard around here. I had to drop everything I was doing after dinner last night just so I could join her in the kitchen to test samples of her lemon-blueberry, and the strawberry crumble pies.

“Take that!” mister precisely measured reduced-sugar diet guy.

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Written by johnwhays

July 23, 2020 at 6:00 am

Berry Farm

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On Saturday morning, I helped Cyndie deliver her baked contributions to White Pine Berry Farm for their Trifecta Weekend event. This is the time of year when their three main berries: Strawberries, Raspberries, and Blueberries are all available for picking on the same days.

Cyndie had everything bagged and labeled for individual sale.

Farmer Greg was thrilled over the arrival of the treats he had sampled days before. If he was around to pitch the product all weekend I don’t know how customers could resist.

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With the combination of organic berries from White Pine Berry Farm and Cyndie’s special baked delicacies made with oodles of love, I think we have the makings of a new superpower.

The berry farm started their venture just half a year before we arrived to create Wintervale. It has taken us years to find each other, and now fills us with excitement over unknown possibilities for future collaborations. They have space to host weddings and other events in addition to a new building under construction for future offerings.

We have quickly grown very fond of farmers Greg and Andy. It serves as inspiration for imagining greater possibilities of how we might be able to spread more love in the world through participation in their events.

At the very least, we might learn some valuable tips and tricks about growing better organic berries and produce at home.

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Written by johnwhays

July 13, 2020 at 6:00 am

New Project

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A new opportunity has unfolded for Cyndie to practice her skills as a baker from our own kitchen. A nearby organic berry farm where she shops for strawberries that she cans as jam was looking to expand their offerings and sell baked goods to their customers. Cyndie volunteered to drop off some samples the next day.

Her almond-cherry scones were an overwhelming hit and led to requests for additional varieties, to which she gladly complied.

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Strawberry hand-pies and chocolate-raspberry cookies soon arrived along with her masterpiece of lemon-blueberry scones. They want ’em all.

She is packaging the treasures for individual sale.

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I’m confident there will be some very happy berry shoppers after their visit to the farm today.

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Written by johnwhays

July 11, 2020 at 6:00 am