Justin thoughtfully bought two Pullman pans and a copy of the new Meyers Bakery cookbook for my January birthday. Before Hugh, I would have curled up on the couch with my new cookbook, read it cover to cover, and bookmarked recipes. I may have added in a bit of internet research to complement whatever recipe or technique I read about, and then a few weeks later, I’d finally have felt mentally ready to get started.
Today’s reality is that I flipped through the new baking book sporadically, a page here over breakfast, a stolen moment while Hugh was otherwise occupied, a hurried amount of research on my phone while he was napping on me. It feels more slapdash than I’m used to (I should say, than I used to be used to — I’m now very familiar with this way of life!), but on the positive end, bread gets baked with minimal amounts of procrastination. Frequently, first baking attempts aren’t incredible, whether I’ve put weeks of research into it or not. For something like baking bread, where so much learning is in the touch, the smell, and the taste, it’s best to get started and learn while doing. So, thank you Hugh: you’ve gifted me this ability to bake now and to tweak later.
When I was pregnant with Hugh, I baked constantly. Alongside the weekly loaves I baked for the small Community Supported Bread program I run, I baked for the present and the future. The present baking consisted of bread and baked goods I already loved and wanted to get better at, as well as new-to-me concoctions driven by seasonality. I baked muffins, tea cakes, scones, and cookies, mostly from my favorite baking books like Good to the Grain, Sweeter off the Vine, and the Violet Bakery Cookbook. My bread creations always included a whole wheat or country loaf sourdough, as I played with seeds and different grains such as sesame and semolina. The future baking consisted of freezing many, many slices of bread to consume after Hugh was born, along with half of those muffins and cookies. I knew I wouldn’t be baking in the months after his birth and I wanted to be well stocked.
How often do you think about the passing of time?
I’ve had years where the Christmas celebrations seemed mere months apart instead of a full year, and I’ve endured other periods where each month was elongated, passing by at an excruciatingly slow pace. Time is fickle. Despite each minute being qualitatively the same whether you’re 6 or 26, time moves differently for all of us, depending on age, experience, or things in our lives that make it impossible to ignore its passing.
Before I became pregnant with Hugh, I used gardening as my time yardstick.
In the fall, I plan next year’s garden and tuck this year’s away. In the early winter, the garden sits alone as my attention turns towards indoor activities, like baking and house projects. In the late winter, I eagerly open up my seed starting calendars and start the first seeds for the spring garden.