don't and delight Nice Life Reminders Pip-Life When Life Is Not Peachy

Don’t & Delight: Yeast Privilege and Slow Cookers

Dont and delight

Welcome to today’s episode of Don’t & Delight! I hope you are managing okay during these strange days.

Don’t – Take Your Yeast Privilege For Granted

I love baking. I always have. The older I get, the more skills I develop … those muscles memory foodie flourishes become second nature and there’s a calming pleasure in the process … a flow.

I generally bake every week, concentrating mostly on savoury things because my sweet tooth is fleeting.  I make The New York Times famous bread, I make a quick version of it too. I also make this bread. And sometimes this bread.

Cleary I’m a very, very bready sort of lass.

As these weeks stretch out, I’ve bowed to peer pressure and am diligently feeding a brand new sourdough starter. Previous attempts at this have failed, probably due to the usual distractions that life serves up. Now there are few distractions and my starter is getting floofy and bubbly and brilliant. (Thanks Reannon for the sourdough recipe advice!)

Over the last few months I’ve made hot cross buns, bagels, Turkish bread, the usual crusty bread-in-a-pot loaves. It’s bolstering to watch something grow from humble ingredients and comforting to add this to that and get something you can spread hummus or Vegemite on and eat quietly on the back step amidst the bees and butterflies and birds.

Pip Bagels

This pandemic has encouraged lots of people to become equally bready.

Perhaps they are baking for the first time, or they might be up-skilling and conjuring up a sourdough starter – and eventually crusty and bubbly and chewy loaves of bread, hopefully – like me.

It’s ace too see everyone’s wobbly and/or wonderful baked goods (I especially love the ones cooked from Beatrix Bakes). It’s a sort of flashmob with flour only everyone has to do it in their own homes, in their own way … by themselves. So not that much like a flashmob but you get my meaning.

All that said, let’s not get too caught up in these crusty and communal feels because the fact is that not everybody gets to bake*.

Empty baking sections at many supermarkets reveal that flour and yeast are hot commodities now (as you probably know!) The other day I saw a man staring wanly at the empty cardboard cartons which hinted they had once held boxes and boxes of yeast. He looked quite bereft and I felt embarrassed when I thought of my own … yeast.

I bought this yeast a couple of weeks ago. In fact, I bought one of those large-ish cans of yeast. I didn’t realise that it would be so hotly sought-after and that I had snaffled something so many could not. I always buy yeast and I bought it because I always do. I was not yeast hoarding, I swear.

But still this time when I bought yeast I suddenly had – alongside all the other privileges I live with – YEAST PRIVILEGE. It does not sit well with me.

Yeast privilege is something that before the pandemic you may have thought you didn’t want to have because it sounds itchy. It’s also something you possibly could not have had. Yeast abounded. But during these quiet home-y days when making something more-is from just a few simple ingredients seems like the best kind of therapy, yeast privilege is an actual thing.

When I showed off my bagels on Instagram and Facebook last week (I used this recipe, it’s amazing and works perfectly) one of my ace buddies lamented “but where are you getting the yeast?”

“My supermarket had it”, I replied again feeling sad for the yeast-less and wishing that Yeast Meets in parks were not a bad idea.

Perhaps Yeast Spotting (a more grainy, fragrant version of train spotting) could become a thing? And we could share sightings of yeast in the wild (aka grocer’s/supermarket/Turkish grocer) so that those without may pounce upon it and whip up their own chewy, seedy bagels or cross buns ASAP.

I’m not the only one who is keen to spread the fermented wealth. I just read an article about a Sydney baker who is sending sourdough starter to people across the country, so they can bypass yeast altogether. How. Nice.

Hot Cross Buns

Now, as I have my second batch of Hot Cross Buns rising in the kitchen (the smell of them is SUCH a good mood-booster so don’t judge me, please), I send thoughts and prayers to those without yeast. I acknowledge my yeast privilege and I vow to tweet updates with the hashtag #yeastspotted in an attempt to offset my yeast wealth. I’m not even joking. Yeast for all.

* (Of course, many people are too busy working, saving lives or fighting for their own. Don’t get me wrong. I know this and it is top of mind. We are allowed to care about and talk about many facets of the same thing. Also? It’s okay to write something light-hearted in the midst of hard days.)


Delight – The Sanity-Saving Slow Cooker

I don’t know about you, but by the time it gets to about 4pm these days I am totally, utterly, unequivocally  knackered. The idea of cooking dinner seems near impossible, due to a sluggish cocktail of hypervigilence, worry and sadness (I will be okay! It’s normal to be sad sometimes!) slowing me the holy heck down.

Adjusting to the big changes we are all dealing with means many of us are dog-tired at the end of the day. Perhaps you too find the idea of making dinner totally NON delightful? I’m sure it’s not just me.

This is where today’s delight aka the slow cooker (or a big, heavy pot and a low flame) comes to the rescue.

You can whack something on in the morning when you’ve got some energy and feel inclined to organise your ingredients and cook. By the time those voices come at you (perhaps just your own?!) asking “what’s for dinner” your meal is cooked. Hurrah! There’s even enough left over to have on toast the next morning or in a jaffle for lunch the next day.

A few nights of being unable to cook dinner due to iso-exhaustion (isoxhaustion?) had been weighing guiltily on me when my slow cooker caught my eye. It was minding its own business in the pantry but I just sensed it was keen to take a turn around the kitchen. I obliged.

Since then we’ve had two excellent slow cooked meals and the house has been filled with delicious cooking smells most late afternoons.

Yep. At that very time the curious dinner questions usually get trotted out, it’s comfortingly clear that dinner is sorted, and that makes everyone feel happy and secure.

Clearly it’s not nice when there is no dinner, and the person/s who usually get their dinner made by their enthusiastically foodie parent may find it disheartening as they open another packet of noodles or boil another egg. Especially so if making food is one of the trusty ways you show love to those around you … and you suddenly can’t/don’t/both. It may even conjure up thoughts of those days when that same parent spent an awful lot of time watching endless episodes of Gossip Girl in their room with the door closed … or crying in the car.

jaffle

Making dinner in the morning, announcing what’s on the menu, and serving it up later that evening with a side of easily-cooked rice or alongside some steamed, buttery potatoes or atop a just-warmed tortilla is an excellent solution for all.

So if you are finding that you are too overwhelmed by the weighty days we are pushing through, and can’t summon up the enthusiasm or energy to make a proper dinner, then maybe you might like to give your slower cooker (or big pot) a turn around your kitchen too?

Slow cooked dinners = delight.


Stay as well as you can, peaches.

x Pip

top image – Kouign Amann and Chicken Soup


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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Retro Ruby
    April 16, 2020 at 1:52 PM

    Just a vote of thanks for your well-informed, soothing blog Pip. I love the way you write and the language you choose to describe what you clearly understand at a deep level and have experienced yourself. I still wear my metaphorical “What Would Pip Do?” wristband every day. Thanks so much for your guidance and kindness. You are an inspiration. More power to you!

  • Reply
    cheekiechops
    April 15, 2020 at 4:50 PM

    I found box of yeast within its use by date lurking in the back of my cupboard on Good Friday and rang around and had two friends pick up a few sachets in envelopes with their names on it from my front porch. I got a bottle of sour cherries and a bottle of olive oil for them! Omg, it was like a group hug and we all made batches of hot cross buns for our families and sent pics, the joy. I have put out calls for tennis balls for my dog and spices when I ran low, we have lent one of our bikes for a friend’s son to do deliveries in our area. Not in a million years did I think
    we could band together like this. love it. Love rediscovering your blog Pip, best wishes, Catherine

  • Reply
    Reannon
    April 13, 2020 at 6:38 PM

    I said to Tim last week when I got my hands on some yeast “ We are rich! I don’t think you understand how rich we are. We have flour, yeast, eggs & pasta. We might not be money rich but we are food rich.” It’s true.
    And I’m glad I could be of some help on the bread/sourdough front!

    And as a few readers have said above, I too do not love my slow cooker. I think it’s because it’s a totally non fancy one, the kind you can’t sauté in, which I’ve heard makes a big difference. Everything I ever cook in mine is bland & watery. Although I did cook a leg of lamb in it yesterday, which was good. Normally I use it to make yogurt, stock & pulled pork. That’s it.

    I hope you’re doing ok Pip. Big hugs xx

  • Reply
    Annemarie
    April 13, 2020 at 3:13 PM

    Another story that resonates with me! Although I don’t bake much anymore ( gluten intolerant) I did find myself with a couple of packs of yeast in my cupboard. A friend put out a call for yeast as she had an urge to make some sweet buns. During one of our daily sanity walks I delivered the pack to her house.( maintaining social distance, of course). Today she delivered a couple of Easter sweet buns to my home. ( my husband was happy as he was just complaining that there wasn’t anything sweet in the house.). Your hot cross buns look delicious! I keep meaning to make some gluten free hot cross buns but I know they won’t taste as good as the original. P.S. My husband found yeast on last week’s grocery trip. He was so excited when he got home… about as excited as I was when I discovered hand sanitizer (for the first time) at the stationary store of all places.

  • Reply
    Del Gabb
    April 13, 2020 at 12:32 PM

    Sadness generally doesn’t rob people of energy and the ability to function normally (such as preparing meals). That is depression. Depression can’t be cured with chicken noodle soup and crocheted blankets. Please don’t infantalise depression and anxiety with cutesy euphemisms. There is enough stigma already surrounding mental illness. We need to use accurate, direct language that might not be “peachy”, but helps lift the stigma and encourage open, honest communication. As for yeast, there’s still plenty online. Fermex instant yeast comes in a massive vacuum pack and always gives reliable results.

    • Reply
      Pip
      April 13, 2020 at 12:40 PM

      Thanks for the comment. Have you been reading my blog for long? I think maybe not.My recent book is a frank discussion of what happens when someone navigates PTSD, depression and anxiety – as I have – and may give you more context about my thoughts on and experience of this.

    • Reply
      Catie
      April 13, 2020 at 1:20 PM

      Hey Del. I understand that you write this from a sense of concern, but I’ve been reading Pip’s blog for a decade (!) and over that time, she has helped countless people with her vulnerability and genuine care, not to mention excellent recipes and crafty skills. She is an intelligent woman, whose chatty writing style I would describe as warm and inclusive rather than cutesy. Her style may not be for you, and that’s OK, but I want you to understand that Pip has done so much for so many by communicating openly and honestly, just as you hope to encourage. I am so grateful to Pip and even completed one of her blogging courses, only to discover just how hard you have to work at doing what she does. Best wishes to you and happy baking with all that yeast!

    • Reply
      Kate
      April 13, 2020 at 5:16 PM

      Why are you being so nasty Del? Fascinated to know. Sometimes nurturing comes in many forms. Crochet gives us purpose and the repeated movements can be soothing. Cooking can be a form of meditation, there are lots of studies on this, losing yourself in the act of measuring, testing, again with the task at hand. One step at a time. Your comment is bitchy, angry and projecting about your own issues. I don’t know anyone who is as upfront about their own struggles with their mental and physical health as Pip. Perhaps if you don’t find this blog helpful, you shouldn’t read it? I hope you reread you comment and see how awful you seem in what you wrote and I hope to hell you’re kinder to people you know than you are to strangers.

  • Reply
    Janelle
    April 13, 2020 at 11:49 AM

    We sourced some yeast via Facebook marketplace (a cake/party store were selling it), as hubby makes Nigella Norwegian Cinnamon buns every Easter.

  • Reply
    Kate
    April 13, 2020 at 10:35 AM

    I bought my usual yeast a few weeks ago too, never thinking for a minute that it would go the way of loo roll.
    I’m asking really nicely and no pressure, but would you be able to share some slow cooker recipes or links to one’s you use please Pip. I have a love/hate relationship with mine, but golly I could do with it now. Like you come late Arvo and done, doing a meal is often more than I’ve got. For someone who has feeding people as their love language this is most concerning.
    I started am epblanket last night. Made me so happy.

    Take care dear Pip
    Cheers Kate

    • Reply
      Fiona
      April 13, 2020 at 10:45 AM

      Also in a love/hate relationship with my slow cooker! I just feel like not much comes out of it that is particularly delicious. I would love some pointers, too!
      P.S. Moths got into my yarn stash and completely ruined it, which made me so upset that I haven’t crocheted or knitted in yonks. But I have an order from Spotlight winging its way to me. Very excited to get back into it! Thanks for the encouragement, Pip 🙂

  • Reply
    Di
    April 13, 2020 at 10:23 AM

    Hi Pip , I was yeast less too but my clever partner bought it on line it came in a few days . Of course there was the added postage but we had been to lots of supermarkets looking.

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