Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cooking Is Therapy

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I am sure others could write more eloquently on this subject. There are programs that use cooking as a rehabilitative program for people who are marginalized in society. There are cooking classes for children with autism. So, I know there are experts in the field of therapy who could take this and make it into a dissertation. But, my ability to focus has changed since I became ill over a month ago, so I am only going to write what I can.

Every day is a struggle for me lately. Not sure whether it was the original illness or the steroids that followed, but my cognitive skills have suffered. Not really complaining, but between that and the loss of the ability to smell and taste clearly, writing a blog about food has changed position on my priority list.

Until just about an hour ago.

Just about an hour ago, I took out all the ingredients for my Pumpkin Bread recipe. What started out as a simple recipe downloaded from a food site has turned into an annual ritual for my family, neighbors and friends. As I took everything out, I could feel my spirits rise just a bit. Then I went and sat down.

I am not one to linger on the negativity, but I felt overwhelmed. Just to do a simple recipe that I've done many times before seemed too much. After another 20 minutes went by, I returned to the kitchen and began to measure and mix my ingredients.

And, then it happened. I felt whole. Measuring the spices, mixing my dry and wet ingredients separately, pulling upon the knowledge I know is stored in my head; all this felt exhilarating!

As everything became incorporated and I poured the batter into two floured and greased glass loaf pans, the sense of accomplishment was almost palatable, and I heard the words in my mind: Cooking Is Therapy. that was all I needed to hear and know.

It may be that I will always need a taste-tester. And it is difficult to accept that for an indefinite period of time, I am without the ability to taste and smell clearly. It has rocked my little foodie world.

But, today, after sliding the pans into a 350 degree oven, I felt the desire and capacity to write about this experience; a capacity I haven't felt for nearly six weeks.

Two glass loaf pans in the oven!
I can't say whether my writing will be the same. I know two of my sense are not. Just faintly, I caught the scent of nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and clove as I added them to the dry ingredients. A little stronger was the sweetness of the batter (the sense of sweetness is the only one that has returned to a decent level) and I remembered how well it went with a Spiced Cream Cheese Dip. I may have to write from memory and share only the past. But, cooking is my therapy. It is my gateway to the world and a way to continue to share and connect.

As the holidays approach, I will continue to make sweet treats for my family (my sister is supposed to ship cinnamon baking chips next week!). It is okay to talk about sweet things this time of year and if it spurs my cooking and writing, all the better! If you are not into home baking or are just looking for good sweets around Charlotte, NC, please don't forget our local bakers and confectioners. Here are some of my favorites. Please feel free to list some of your local or online favorites!

Charlotte, NC
- Nona Sweets
- Southern Cake Queen (Mobile)
- The Blushing Bakeshop
- Suarez Bakery

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