It seems like I have had the most number of mini-meltdowns in the last six months during the pandemic than all of my years combined. I usually have an answer to why I think or feel the way I do and why my buttons get pushed. I usually am able to meditate in the morning and start the day with clarity. I am usually pretty grounded. But a pandemic is anything but usual and it has caused me so much anxiety that I didn’t know I had in me.
How did it feel? It felt like Groundhog Day. Each day, I’d wake up and do the exact same thing I did yesterday. I watch the news and it’s all the same bad news. I scroll through my social media feeds and I don’t even have to elaborate on the emptiness and shallowness of it. Can I just please have a better way to while away the time?
One day I picked up my Lola’s recipe notebook and decided to make something, anything that will keep my mind off Groundhog Day. And just like that, I now have options and endless possibilities – pretty much how life was like before the lockdown.
One thing I missed the most is traveling and the food along the way. Baking gave me back what I was missing. Beignets from New Orleans? Done. Mei Li Wah baked roast pork buns from NY’s Chinatown? Done. Soft Pretzels from the streets of NYC? Done. Banh mi from Ho Chi Minh? Done. It’s not to say that everything turned out perfect on my first try. (Have you seen this pretzel??) But it’s fun to laugh about it.
Baking is the reason I fall asleep at night. I watch endless videos and read endless articles on how to make one type of loaf. Baking is the reason I wake up in the morning. I have to start early, so I can plan my day to allow for ample dough rising times and balance it with my day job. Baking gives a break in my otherwise monotonous life. There is something new each day. And even if I make the same brioche loaf every day, the results are always surprising. All the things that go into the bake make the results different each time – the weather, the kind of flour, the size of the egg, the temperature of the water.
It was the end of Groundhog Day.
Here are some of my baking adventures during lockdown. Check out Home and kitchen diaries for more home-cooked recipes.