Most everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve been spoiled with excellent farmers markets. My hometown in northeast Illinois has fantastic summer, spring and winter markets. I visited a few farmers markets in the Twin Cities while I was in college, and was never disappointed. And Iowa City has one of the best markets I’ve ever been to (and it’s covered so, rain or shine, the vendors are present).
If you’re close to me, you know that I like to pawn off most of the things I bake. I do this for three reasons — one, because I care about you and like to show it via baked goods; two, because I know if I don’t give the brownies/cookies/chocolate peanut butter quick bread/etc. away, I will eat it all. Maybe in one sitting. And three, because otherwise, my freezer will implode with the weight of too many a frozen creation. And then it will hate me. And I cannot let that happen.
But mostly, I share my baked treats with others because it’s one of the best ways to show someone you care, I think. At least, I always feel well cared for when someone takes the time to make food for me. Even if it’s microwaving a bowl of SpaghettiOs or pouring cereal. Doesn’t matter. It’s love.
To quote Charles Dickens, only one phrase can describe my week and the week preceding: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
It was the best of times being on vacation, relaxing in hammocks and digging into good books and Door County cherry pies. It was the worst of times “relaxing” in the 95-degree heat and then, two days later, in the 45-degree… heat. Or not.
My friends, it is officially summer. I know for some of you that might be stating the obvious, but for me, I feel as though I went to sleep one night in the winter and woke up to a hot, summer morning. Springtime had a fleeting presence, one dotted with subzero temperatures, a few rain/hail showers and a smattering of tornado warnings. And then, it was gone.
But I’m not complaining. I love summer. And to celebrate, Elliott and I are making a getaway this week to sleep under the stars, roast hot dogs over a fire, get our shoes muddy on trails, walk down sidewalks with ice cream melting over our fingers and eat in restaurants with goats on the roof. It will be lovely.
It was one of those weeks. I’m sure you know the kind — when nothing works, nothing goes the way you want it to go, everything falls apart and can’t be put back together again. Or, at least it seems that way.
I tend to fall into a state of mild panic when things are no longer routine. If I am not completely aware of what I will be doing next, I have a bit of trouble coping. I need to know that when I put one foot in front of the other, they will both land on solid ground. I’m all for spontaneity in some cases, sure. Throw a pleasant surprise at me every now and then, and I’m perfectly happy. But throw a random curveball at me when I was ready to swing at a fastball? Let’s just say it’s not always pretty.
I hear it all the time — “I can’t make bread, it’s too hard,” “I don’t have the patience to make bread,” “There’s no way I could make that!”
Poppycock. Hogwash. All of it.
I remember myself almost two years ago thinking the very same things. There’s no way I can make bread at home! Me? By myself? With my hands? No bread machine? Pssh, please.
Then, when I realized there were actually cookbooks out there dedicated solely to baking bread at home, I knew that indeed, it was possible. So, I tried it.
And I tried it again. And again, and again, and… well, you understand. And eventually, it worked. I made homemade bread, and it was possible, and it wasn’t that hard, and I did have the time for it.