Ma Vie En Rose: To Bake In The Time Of Now

First Challah. Photo by JAH, April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.

Ma Vie En Rose: To Bake In The Time Of Now

There’s this story that has been etched in my memory about how Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote “100 Years of Solitude.” And it goes a little like this–GGM (as I like to refer to him since my days of a graduate student) was taking his family on a vacation. He packed the car with their luggages, and vacationey like things. As he was driving off to their location, he turned the car around and drove back to their home. He sat down in front of his typewriter in the study to write, and did not stop until the novel was finished–a year or so later. During those months, his wife worked to feed the family, and apparently sold bits and pieces of their furniture to survive. 

I remember sitting in class as the professor told this story about GGM, and I felt both awe and fear. I felt in awe of the inspiration that can trigger a work that would be shared with many, and I felt that fear of such inspiration overtaking oneself without control and giving in to the devastating beauty of creativity. I asked myself at that time and thereafter: does this truly happen when a writer becomes fully immersed with inspiration? 

If such a thing could manifest itself with my own attempt at writing–I am literally fucked. 

But, not today or right now.

Right now in this moment of a pandemic, I think I’ll just bake. 

And blog about how I am avoiding working on my writing projects. 

Behold, I baked a few breads. Bread and I are frenemies. My first attempt at bread years ago turned into a devastating situation. He was a pathetic little soul that came out of the oven better suited as border rock in a garden. The second attempt wasn’t any better, and he too met the qualifications of a door stopper. I told myself there’s no point in attempting to accomplish this task when clearly I had no business trying. Plus, it’s carbs with a tendency to squatter on parts of the bodies for years claiming real estate for life. 

Now we are in a pandemic, and as the world hunkered down at home–everyone became inspired to bake bread. We’ve all heard the news of how yeast is not available for purchase and folks are using “starters” to bake their breads.

Not I. 

I always believed that keeping an item and forgetting about it sometimes will be proven beneficial. My husband is truly annoyed by this, and by no means I am referring to hoarding (that’s nuts). I’m simply referring to buying an entire bag of Bob Mills organic yeast and placing it in a mason jar, and then placing the jar in the back of the fridge, and forgetting about its existence. Until now. 

I felt as if I found a treasure. Then, I saw the expiration date: 08/2019. My disappointment was temporary. I had a moment of clarity to test if the yeast is still “alive” by putting a teaspoon in a bowl of warm water. If the yeast began to bubble with possibilities, it was still alive with hope. If it doesn’t, it’s dead. To my complete surprise, lo and behold, the yeast bubbled from its slumber. I believe it even whispered, “ are you?” The secret component was my ever reliable fridge and the home it offered as the sleeping yeastly slept for who knows how long. 

So, I baked bread as if I was in a marathon. As I continue to work from home, I found that stepping away from emails, spreadsheets, memos, calendars–and pouring yeast, flour, sugar in a KitchenAid bowl and then allowing the pillowyness to rest for 2 hours as I get back into work again contributed to my iWatch activity app and the ghastly step/stand/fucking move goals for the day. My fitness/health conscious team (husband, and kids) aren’t very happy with the fact that I surround the kitchen with all these temptations. Do I care? No, not really. 

Therefore, without further adieu here’s a parade of the breads… and a couple of supporting actresses.

Ms. Basic White 

Basic rise. White Bread. Photo by JAH, April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.
White Bread in the process. Photo by JAH, April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.


Ms. Basic White Bread. Photo by JAH, April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.


Ms. Wholesome Wheat

Whole Wheat Bread Fresh From the Oven. Photo by JAH, April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.


Ms. Siopao-Ka-Ghorl

Siopao before steamed. Photo by JAH, April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.


Fresh steamed Siopao. Photo by JAH, April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.


Ms. Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross To Rise. Photo by JAH, April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.


Hot Cross Buns on Easter. Nigella Lawson Recipe. Photo by JAH, April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.


Ms. Ina Challah-At-Your-Ghorl

Challah knotted and glowing. Photo by JAH, April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.


2nd bake for the Challah, mastered. Photo by JAH, April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.


Ms. Levian Chocolate Chip Cookies

Levian Chocolate Chip Cookies. Photo by JAH. April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.

Ms. Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding

Dulce de Goodness. Photo by JAH, April 2020. Fairbanks, Alaska.

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