Monday, 29 September 2014

Bake No More

We had our family Thanksgiving dinner early this year. We have to adhere to an every other weekend schedule if we want the whole group together, for a number of reasons. And this weekend was perfect because my daughter had her niece and nephew for the weekend and the majority of the family would be in the same place come Sunday.

My daughter cooked the entire meal on her own, a feat she made appear effortless late in the afternoon, though I imagine we missed some stressful moments from earlier in the day, especially with six kids running about the house.

My responsibility was to bring the dessert, pumpkin pie being the 1st choice for everyone. Years ago it would have been nothing for me to bake up a storm of pies, along with some other tasty treats. In these last few years I’ve resorted to store bought pies with some added home baking.

It’s been hard to admit but I feel my baking days are behind me, and I’m left with the memories of baking for the family, baking with my grandchildren.

I need my stool when working in the kitchen, as I can’t stand for long without pain in my back. The bar type stool works well except it means I have to do everything with my arms raised high. So baking, and using the mixer, is difficult. Within minutes the mixer feels heavy and I’m struggling. I’ve tried to adapt, using cake mixes instead of using a recipe, making cakes or cupcakes the day ahead to spread out the effort required.

But it’s not just the physical struggle; it’s the mental strain while struggling physically. It means mistakes are made and results get tossed in the garbage. Of late there have been more failures than successes.

Saturday I baked a new recipe, adapting the recipe to make it easier, and doing without one ingredient that I figured was optional. The whole mess went into the garbage.

So, on my way to dinner I stopped at the store, intent on buying two pies, apple and pumpkin. Either a lot of other people were also celebrating an early Thanksgiving or the store doesn’t stock pumpkin pies until closer to the actual holiday, but there was no pumpkin pie to be found.

Just in case I bought an apple and a strawberry/rhubarb, added in some butter tarts as they are always a family favourite.

Guilt is a terrible thing. I felt like I was letting my family down. This was another loss for me, something else to add to the Can’t Do Anymore list, making my Can Do list a little shorter. It’s much more than an activity, it’s a part of who I was, who I was to my family and grandchildren.

I guess you’d have to be there to fully understand, but for me the whole situation just sucks. But, at the same time, admitting it makes things easier, and maybe I’ll rid my shelves of all the baking paraphernalia and gain some cupboard space. I’m trying to think positive.

By the time I got to M & M’s the guilt hadn’t worn off completely. I got the pumpkin pie, and added a box of mini ├ęclairs I thought the kids might like. We ended up with way too many sweets, which was fine with the grandkids, and everyone got some pie to take home.

I need to find those recipes that are easy to make, maybe stovetop instead of baked, and wean myself off this need to cook for the kids, but it’s been such a pleasure point in my life.

Baby steps, it’s all baby steps.

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