I haven’t felt like blogging in weeks, which surprises and upsets me. I blogged all through the super, super busy canning season. I blogged last winter when I was either working or in school every day for three months. I blogged when my grandmother died and Greg’s dad died. And now, I’ve run into a wall.
I am, quite honestly, sad. I can’t tell you exactly why. Certainly, things have not been easy in recent weeks. G. had sinus surgery, and it didn’t go well. We were scrambling to get his brother mental health care before a court deadline. I got sick last week and spent four days in bed. I still have a nasty cough.
And yet, that’s not it. I mean, things have been worse. Certainly, last year’s deaths were worse.
And some of our problems are, as my mom would say, not so bad because money can fix them. For example, the heat in my condo in Milwaukee went out, and my renter moved out because it will take 12 weeks to get a new, custom heat pump built. It will cost thousands, but again, it’s only money, and it’s money I have.
Others are not so lucky. One friend is about to have a biopsy for breast cancer. A neighbor just got laid off for the third time in four years.
Things could certainly be worse for me, and they have been. So, I am struggling to figure out why I am down and how to snap out of it. I bought a full-spectrum light for my desk at work in case I have winter depression.
The other day, I was explaining to a co-worker how it’s supposed to work. (He initially thought it was a tanning lamp.) I explained that it mimics the sun’s rays to ward off winter depression.
“Does it work?” he asked.
“Apparently not,” I said.
Everyone around us laughed. At least I still have a sense of humor.
On nights when I’m alone and I don’t have G. to cook for, I’ve been eating cheese quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches. I seem to turn to cheese like others turn to Valium. No wonder I love Wisconsin.
My grilled cheeses are great, largely because I’m still making my own bread. I also started putting a little homemade cranberry sauce on them to liven them up. Delicious.
I’m going to share my latest bread recipe. It was inspired by one of my other crutches — chai. I used the spices in the tea: cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. I also added dried figs because I was reading The Dovekeepers and was in a Middle East state of mind. That’s probably not the best thing for me right now since the book ends (spoiler alert) with about 900 people dieing in a kind of mass suicide at Masada.
Chai spice bread with figs and almonds
10 ounces bread flour
5 ounces whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon dried milk
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
9 ounces warm water
5 dried figs, chopped
3/4 ounce almonds, toasted and chopped
I put all the ingredients in my bread machine.
If you don’t have one, combine them in a dough and knead for 10 minutes. Roll dough into a ball and place in a bowl. Cover with a clean towel and let the dough rise for about 2 hours. Punch the dough down and then shape it into a boule or loaf. Let it rise for another hour. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes and then lower temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for another 40 minutes or so. Use your best judgement about when to take it out.