When I am stressed, I bake.
When I am pissed off, I clean the house. Luckily for my husband, and unfortunately for my home, I am not pissed often. You've really got to concentrate on it to get me fired up enough to storm into the kitchen to slam cabinets and scour the sink.
But baking? Baking is my soul food. I love taking tried and true recipes and injecting them with my own touch. Softened butter creamed with brown and white sugars. Sable brown vanilla splashed into a metal mixing bowl. The crack and thump of an egg against milk glass, the yolk solid and bright. Wooden spoons and secret ingredients and the way flour smells, sweet and doughy and fresh.
The silence of mixing and measuring and pouring, or whisking and creaming and folding. Watching textures blend and smooth, adding a pinch of this or a rounded scoop of that. It gives me time to think of everything or nothing, whichever I choose.
I breathe in the sweet smells of treats baking in the oven, open the door to peek in and see if they are done. I slide cookies onto cooling racks, then load them onto a paper plate and fill a big glass with whole milk. I hand them to my husband, feeding him the edge of a cookie that broke off in transition. I know that what I baked will be good. I know that people will eat it, and it will make them smile and all this, somehow, soothes me and takes the hard edges off my stress until all I can think of is whether I might want to add more rolled oats next time and how many cookies is too many on a Tuesday night.
I smile to myself when my husband puts his hand on my shoulder, kisses my cheek, and says, "Thanks for the cookies." It may sound trite, or old fashioned, but knowing I am making something that will fill the tummies of the people I love fills me with happiness.