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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Guest blogger: Theraputic baking

Last week I extended an invitation to readers to contribute to Omnivore with stories of food and life. I've had quite a response already, and today I'm happy to present our first guest blogger, Lauren Leschper. Lauren writes about how for her, baking is way cheaper than therapy. Enjoy, and if you're interested in blogging for Omnivore, send me your ideas at besha.rodell@creativeloafing.com.

cupcake.jpg
Cheaper (and tastier) than a psychiatrist

By Lauren Leschper

Everyone deals with stress in a slightly different way. Some people eat, some exercise, and some do nothing at all. Me? I bake.

I don’t know why, but at least since I’ve been in college, the best way for me to calm down and de-stress is to make a cake, pie, whatever. I have little desire to eat the resulting dessert, however. I always manage to cover myself in homemade icing when I make cupcakes, so by the time I finish I have usually eaten my fill of sweets for a while.

Which is the interesting fact about baking, for me at least – making lots of cupcakes actually keeps me from eating many desserts on a daily basis. Luckily (for them or me?) my boyfriend and his four roommates are more than happy to scarf down whatever treat I’ve decided to make. Otherwise, my roommates would certainly throw me out for keeping them from fitting into their formal dresses.

Brownie and muffin mixes were basically the extent of my mom’s baking when I was growing up, other than the blackberry pies she would make for special occasions. My family was never a “dessert” family. Yet somehow I discovered the absolute magic of from-scratch baked goods. In my experience, there are few things as sure to brighten someone’s day as a homemade cupcake. Knowing this fact helps make the preparation and effort worthwhile for me, but there’s more to it than that. The combination of art and science, creativity and precision, is the paradox and essence of baking. I think that inherent contradiction is what gives baking its therapeutic qualities for me. I have to concentrate and devote my full attention to what I’m doing. Depending on the recipe, sometimes the smallest mistake could lead to disaster. I don’t have time to think about my midterm, or my fight with my boyfriend, or anything else that might be weighing on my mind.

Plus, I get to eat some yummy frosting. Calories from icing licked off your fingers don’t count, right?

(Photo from Wikimedia commons)

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