Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Any kind of creating is good...

Took a bit of a break from writing today and baked a loaf of bread. This is a no-knead peanut butter bread (still yeast-raised) based on a recipe from my 1960's "New Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook."

Here's the recipe:

1 pkg active dry yeast (a very scant tbsp)
1-1/4 cup of warm (not hot) water
3 cups flour (I used organic all-purpose white)
1/4 cup brown coconut sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh-ground peanut butter (could use any kind, I suppose, as long as it's kind of chunky)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (because I didn't have peanuts)


Dissolve yeast in water with 1 tbsp of the sugar. When it is bubbly add the rest of the sugar, the salt, the peanut butter and 1/2 of the quantity of flour. Mix vigorously 300 strokes by hand (or two minutes with a hand mixer). Scrape sides of bowl often. Add the remaining flour and the nuts - mix well. Batter will be thick. Scrape down sides of bowl and gather all into a mass at the bottom of the bowl. Cover with a moist dishtowel and let sit in a warm spot for about an hour, until double in size.

When doubled, stir down (about 25 strokes) and turn into a well-greased loaf pan. Cover pan with moist dishtowel and let rise until about 1" from rim (approximately 30-45 minutes) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Put pan in preheated oven and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. About halfway through cover the top of the loaf with brown paper or parchment paper.

When loaf is done (check by tapping bottom of loaf, it should sound hollow) turn out of pan and cool on wire rack. Tastes great as is, toasted, and/or used in sandwiches. Basically a PB&J with the PB baked into the bread! If you try it, let me know how it comes out!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Baby steps...

This picture is the table my almost-a-toddler grandson cruises around when he visits me. He currently stands unsupported for moments at a time, and he loves to reach for my hands so I can help him walk around the living room. Thinking of his joy in learning to walk brought something home to me this morning as I contemplated a creative project I am ready to undertake and the "baby steps" I need to do it.

I have to admit, I had been thinking about baby steps as being the way we took them in the classic "Mother, May I?" game - tiny steps towards the goal. But actual baby steps are so much more than just baby-sized steps.

Baby steps consist of falling, getting up again, asking for help, using props (tables, sofas, another person, etc.), forward motion, sideways motion, backwards motion - sitting down, standing up, going back to a crawl and so on. Baby steps are not just small, incremental forward movements.

When it comes to any new, untried project, creative or not, the baby steps in starting might include failure, missteps, veering off in a different direction, slowing down, asking for help, speeding up, getting distracted by a shiny object, or maybe simply standing still while assessing which way to go. There are many ways to take baby steps when we begin something new. And, none of them are "the right one" or "the wrong one." Any step towards your goal is good, whether it adds to it, or is simply practice. Our biggest obstacles are having a mindset that doesn't allow for the baby steps to begin and becoming discouraged to the point of stopping when something we try doesn't work.

In babies who are becoming toddlers, their desire to walk is so strong that all the miscues in the world won't deter them for long. Eventually they walk and run and dance and jump, with joy! That doesn't mean they never fall down again, but they know the joy of mobility and they keep at it for a lifetime.

As creatives we need to take those messy, awkward and seemingly useless and unsuccessful steps to eventually become immersed in the joy of creativity. Projects may not always turn out the way we want them to, but for every step forward, one gains the confidence and the reassurance that baby steps work - the process works.

Take those baby steps! You've got this!