Friday, January 10, 2014

One Thing for 2014

Can you think of one thing that would make a difference in your writing life in this new year? What could you do more or less of to improve your skills, your acceptance rate, or your overall outlook? We Teaching Authors will answer that question in a new series of posts starting today.

This week, cold weather added two extra days to our holiday break. While my husband (an accomplished baker) was home to coach me, I decided I wanted to learn how to bake bread. I’d made plenty of batter breads but never attempted the yeast kind before.

You know how some projects seem daunting until you try them, and then you wonder why you waited so long? Baking bread was like that.

I followed the very helpful “Illustrated Guide to the Baking of Yeasted Bread” and the Basic Bread Recipe in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. With my husband looking over my shoulder, I sprinkled yeast into wrist-temperature water, beat in flour and a few extra ingredients, kneaded, punched, kneaded, shaped, and baked.

In the middle of all my kneading, I thought.

I concentrated.

I wondered.

I consciously socked away old worries and focused on future possibilities.

Keeping my hands busy allows my brain to function more freely. Almost any repetitive motion, including chopping fresh vegetables and hanging laundry outside, coaxes back-burner ideas to the forefront. After all that kneading, I felt less stressed, more energetic, and more optimistic. (I can do this! Hooray!) That result alone was worth the effort.

And at the end of the process, we got to eat warm homemade bread. Hooray and yum! Now I’m researching recipes, gluten, and different kinds of flour. I’m looking forward to developing fresh ideas while kneading, baking, and eating fresh bread. Try it! Happy New Year!

JoAnn Early Macken


Linda B said...

I think you're right about one thing, making something is food for the brain. Although one has to concentrate on the making somewhat, there is another side that calls for reflection, contemplation, etc. Lovely look of your 'first bread'!

Carmela Martino said...

I confess, I use a bread machine, so I haven't kneaded bread dough in ages. Congratulations on your success, and on finding a new way to stimulate your creativity.

jan godown annino said...

Collecting the ingredients, creating a dough, setting the temperature, waiting for the rising & then savoring the results. It's all a mighty fine template for
our process.
We have two bakers in the family, our daughter & her grandmother, my mother in law. For them it is like "dancin' in the dark."
Love the photographs of the tasty results.

Happy New Year!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thanks, everyone! I'm hoping to fit baking into my collection of idea-processing activities. Wish me luck!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Watch out, World: I smell a new batch of baking-inspired poems baking!