What’s baking got to do with it?

I have been in my house for 7 years now, my kitchen window looks out across the valley toward New lynn and Titirangi, in West Auckland. Many a moon have I watched following the universal road over my house, many a red wine have I drunk and conversation had, while the oven performs its duty of making my uncooked dream an edible reality. Family and friends have sat around my table talking idly while the aroma of banana loaf calls loudly, or while cream is whipped into shape for those date crammed scones of goodness. Kids scatter the floor with colour and use the lounge as a gymnastics hall while we all eat, we all breathe and we all try to engage in 5 cross conversations at once* It’s called Multitasking…oh yes I did just reference my prior post…theme emerging*

I tend to bake when I am happy, hungry, tired, energetic, low, have visitors and pretty much any time I find a new recipe. The scrapbooks that line my bookcase are full of 15 years of recipes that I have torn out, printed off or scribbled down, and there is something therapeutic about the art of glue, scissors and paper, combined in a practical way to ensure that I never lose a single one. I liken it to when I was at primary school and had to have the front page of my new books perfect, accompanied by a bubble font title, and colouring in that can only be described as something out of Joseph and the Technicolor Dream coat. My recipe books are far more low key, but a recipe has to be a success in order to be saved from a new smothering of glue and then hidden, never to be made again by the marriage of my mixing bowl and wooden spoon. From truffles to cheesecakes, chocolate tarts to scones, I love to feed the people, and it is one of the true moments where I feel content. It is my meditation, my time out, my hiding place, my soul soother.

The baking journey took real force when boy 1 was born, I was 22 at the time and in a state of young naive bliss as to the path that would take me through to my 30’s. In order to use up the minutes of every day, I would bake while boy 1 made noises in his bouncer on the kitchen bench, and it made me calm, even when I had so little sleep I could crumble into the dark abyss of the earth, while my mind whisked me away to Rarotonga, for a Pina Colada and sex on the beach. This pattern has stayed etched into my ways and I baked my way through my 20’s, as boy 1 grew he began to help, distributing flour throughout the house with pride that he had been my right hand man* Now as a 14 year old he inhales Afghans and Anzac biscuits, and it feels like my heart smiles as my boy becomes a man, but is still my baby. Boy 2 however is the one I ‘manage’ while I bake and by the time the goods are ready, the lounge is untraversable, foil and baking paper are now kitchen sound effects on the floor, and somehow he has found soap boxes or tampons, a tray of eggs or his bum cream, and has expressed his creative side by using all found products in unison. Boy 2 is quite literally a power house of Cornish strength, weight, volume and speed, therefore my day is dictated by risk assessed activities. Like some sort of OSH, (Occupational Health & Safety) regulated law, I sort out all possible secure sights to fill the days, accompanied by fresh muffins or a packed lunchbox…food and fun are the answer for any toddler outing equaling success*

While I romance the notion of my baked goodness filling stuffers, and picnics with my boys, the flip side is this..food is my love and my demon, always has been. I have been thin to the point of looking ill, eating only eggs salmon and salad, overweight to the point of resembling a puffer fish, eating carbs and cakes, and every weight in between…the struggle, as we say these days, is REAL. The icing in the cake is this.. I never felt good about my body not matter how small I became, in the mirror I was always fat, the scales were never a small enough number, I would weigh myself several times a day to see what food or drink had the most impact. Basically I had an eating disorder, or should I say I do…I just swing from one extreme to the other, and trying to find that happy medium emotionally, psychologically and physically is a daily battle. My mind self argues and I am a Gemini so it’s bad enough as it is! I can wake up and think I want to fit my jeans so I eat an apple and make homemade soup. I can also wake up and think I want to fit my jeans, but I am exhausted so I eat chocolate and drink coffee and drink coffee and drink coffee.

I can see that my context is a powerful influence, I use food to either starve or drown the moments of feeling isolated and invisible in this ‘stay at home mum’ gig.  I am a social creature by nature so when I have an adult conversation I am all in, talking so fast that I make no sense at times, trying to get a weeks worth of thoughts and ideas out of my mouth in ten minutes. Therefore the moment I am out of the house and being an adult in the world, I feel more in control and order is reinstated, I eat better, I am happier, I am kinder and more tolerant of everyone and everything. Food along with other aspects of my life do not feel like they are controlling me, brownie isn’t inhaled but savoured, resulting in a sense of pride and renewed confidence because somehow that muffin top is smaller and I have a kick ass ‘lets grab life, drink some Tequila and dance my bitches” attitude, which I have to admit leads to a cup of tea at 9pm accompanied by Pj’s, Ugg boots and ‘Call the Midwife‘ on the Telly, but hey the intention is there in my mind at least!

I am assuming this is resonating with some of you right now, if Playgroup conversations are anything to go by, (my adult injection for the week), there is plenty of chocolate talk and nervous anticipation for the coffee to be ready, and desperate peeks to see who is providing sweet sweet morsels of joy for morning tea!

So me being an avid baker has two faces, the ‘eat my addictive caramel goodness’ and the ‘I want to fill the house with homely waftings of beautiful cakes that make people smile and feel satisfied’, the second makes me feel proud and happy so that can’t be too bad an apple to eat. So to move forward I am making changes and have been for a while now, exploring the world of paleo..vegan..raw..sugar alternatives..gluten alternatives, (already in hand), and concocting my own variant in the middle ground between hard core health and mainstream Edmonds*

My baking makes people happy..makes me happy..makes my place in the world feel more real and warranted. Life is a giant discovery and most importantly it is the people we encounter, the impact we make, whether it be loud or quiet, and the memories associated with all we have met. I like the fact that I am in others memories, for whatever reason, because I am part of a moment in their life, forever entwined and remembered. I am still known as the lady who left baked goods at peoples door, when I lived in the Far North of NZ with boy 1 a littly. So maybe this is part of my legacy..the key is to balance out the baking with the consuming, and to evenly distribute the fare to all hips not just mine. I swear I only have to look at bread and my thighs grow an inch. So here’s to the aroma of a house ready to burst with fresh apple pie, steaming coffee and people I love, to realising my limits of consumption and to forgive myself my weaknesses as well as holler my strengths…balance balance balance it’s harder than we think x

All this reminds me of one of my favourite movies, Stranger than Fiction*