Girl Versus Dough

cheesy chicken & broccoli stromboli

cheesy chicken broccoli stromboli on plate

I’m starting anew. With the way life has been lately, it’s the only way to go. I’m not complaining — in fact, I’ve learned more about myself, about others, about life in general these past couple of months than I have in a long time, and I am grateful.

It’s another step in the process of growing up, I guess (“If only someone had told us when we were in high school how tough it is to be an adult!” my friends and I say. Ah, hindsight is 20/20).

So, instead of crawling back into a cave, where everything seems comfortable and easy and unobtrusive (and yet, ignorant and stagnant), I’m pressing forward. And I’m taking this stromboli with me.

jalapeno cheddar skillet cornbread

Jalapeno Cheddar Skillet Cornbread

Hi, my name is Stephanie, and I’m a recipe collecting addict.

Hi, Stephanie.

It’s true. The recipe book in my cabinet is a serious mammoth, lurking, just waiting to devour more cut-out magazine articles, online printouts and handwritten recipes collected by word of mouth or out of my brain. The biggest section is, of course, the bread section (with, chello, dessert coming in at a close second). But the funny/sad thing is, I have maybe baked 10 percent of the bread recipes hiding in the recipe book monster. OK, it’s just plain sad.

cardamom-cherry jam quick bread

Cardamom Cherry Jam Quick Bread

I can’t tell you the next time it will rain. I can’t tell you if the way you see orange is the same way I see orange, and I can’t tell you if you’ll get a pony for Christmas.

I can’t tell you if you’re going to get the phone call for that dream job, your dream boy or your dream girl. I can’t even tell you if you’ll dream at all tonight.

What I can tell you is that this bread is delicious.

rutabaga fries

Rutabaga Fries

Perhaps these aren’t the prettiest things. Perhaps they look a little bit bland, or boring, or like they were covered in rocks.

Fortunately, none of these are true. But this is most definitely a recipe that can’t be judged by its looks. It’s what’s inside that counts anyway, as is the case with most things.

cinnamon raisin swirl bread

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

I’m trying to get back into the swing of things. Life is slowly getting back to normal — well, a new normal, that is. Grief is a funny thing, because even if you’ve been through it before, the pain never gets easier. But I have learned that the only way to get through it is to just live, every day, putting one foot in front of the other. And eventually, I find ground again.

It’s taken me a while to regain my passion for anything again, but I’m getting there. Even food was tasteless for so long — too long. How I dearly missed the good taste of food, and baking. It was hard to get myself back into the kitchen, to dip my hands into the cool flour and hear the gentle whir of dough kneading in the stand mixer. But once those familiar senses returned, so did my rhythm: Rhythm in a new reality, maybe, but one in which baking still fills me with joy.

cider doughnut muffins

cider doughnut muffins on a cooling rack

I’ve had this here blog now for about two years. It’s turned into more of a blessing than I could ever have imagined — not to mention the fact that I’ve made a lot of recipe testers happy. I am grateful for what has happened and even more excited for where my baking adventures will continue to take me. And I’m grateful that you, dear friend, have come along for the ride.

One of my most faithful readers (and avid recipe testers) was my grandfather. Grandpa Jim would always be willing to try whatever I made, even when I was a little girl working my make-believe Meadowside Restaurant (complete with a handwritten menu) at his kitchen table. That man would eat whatever I put in front of him, even if it looked like inedible green slop. I like to think that in more recent years, my recipes were a little more appetizing. But I never had any doubt that my grandfather would be willing to sample something I made. And I beamed at his approval.