Yesterday I had to bake. Usually when I bake I make cookies, but this time I didn't care what it was, as long as it included flour, sugar, and an oven. While browsing through possible goodies, I noticed I had two rather large bananas that were on the verge of being inedible, their peels were so dark. My family is very picky about bananas and their ripeness factor. My sister likes them green-- almost to the point that there's a distinct crunch sound when one bites into it (ew.) My mom doesn't have a great passion for bananas in general, but she likes them just a tad more ripe than my sister. I, on the other hand, will eat them at almost any stage of ripeness, as long as the peel is more yellow than brown. The bananas from yesterday were past the hope for any of us to eat, so I decided rather than waste them entirely (especially in light of my family's recent new-and-improved grocery budget) I would bake banana bread. Usually I make muffins; they tend to stay moist longer and are easier for a grab-and-go snack food, but I found myself mixing the batter and pouring it into a bread pan rather than a 12 cup muffin tin. I also wanted to use the small toaster oven, because I felt too lazy to turn on the large oven and heat up the entire kitchen... but that's just a happy coincidence.
Have you ever noticed that getting in the kitchen and baking is like stress therapy? Maybe it's just me. But when I'm looking at the recipe, life seems to simplify itself. Suddenly I know what I'm supposed to do: measure out two cups of flour. Add one cup of sugar. Beat two eggs in a bowl and combine with one teaspoon of vanilla and one cup of buttermilk. The guesswork is gone, and I can focus on one task: baking. Best of all, I know when I'm done. I don't have to worry that I didn't do my task well or that it's going to require my attention again. It's measured or poured into its baking device and, voilà! You pop it in the oven and can count on having a wonderful baked goody in less than an hour.
It's so predictable. And comforting. Sometimes one needs a bit of that in life.
So next time you're stressed, try it! Bake a batch of brownies. Or a three-layered cake. Even a batch of cookies. It doesn't have to be from scratch, but it needs to be something that you love. Find the joy of baking. I guarantee you won't regret it.