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.
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.
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.
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.
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