When River was a baby, I spent much of my day hours figuring out work, college, raising her, and meals. Of course, there were countless hours spent clicking on and off the oven, too. There was that year in which I stocked up on all of the professional baking supplies an amateur could gather at NY Cake. I made vanilla cakes from scratch, self-taught my way around fondant for birthdays, and learned how to naturally-dye buttercream to make the brightest anniversary cake, too.
I had given myself to a certain amount of growing and care. There wasn’t kids in school. Or precise work hours. And we weren’t in the middle of a universal crisis in which, teaching and spending time with children was less about consent. I’ve realized in our three weeks of staying home, between being productive and utterly paralyzed by the circumstances and news, that sustained romanticization of this time may be an error in mitigating trauma.
I’d like to say that most of our hours lately are where I find joy in a balance. But in truth, much of it is survival. I know what I need to do. And yes, feeling joy in baking quite the popular dish is part of earned techniques of survival. On occasion, I find myself repeating, “All in a day.” A way to measure these old and new skills in play at once. So when deciding between a round of math or emails, I decided to bake. Of course, baking requires a bit of math. Measuring, is a focus for River’s math as of late. A cup here. A tablespoon there. With Oak, baking quickly became science. Bananas quickly moving from whole to smashed between his fingers. Butter melting whithin minutes. Eggs cracked on glass with more ease than in comparison to a counter. Baking these days isn’t terribly romantic. And in a world like we are all inhabiting today, I dare to imagine much that is.
But what it is is smart. It is time spent together and a whole hour or so refining skills or learning new ones. It is consenting to connect to a version of myself I honestly, no longer recognize. Five, nine, and 30 is far from one and 21. It is inhabiting a privilege that is born from work, safety, and our Brooklyn home.
Baking banana bread isn’t science. But baking it with your kids instead of doing work, or in addition to the work, kind of is. If I had to argue about the method of this time, and the part we all must partake in, it is a bit of science isn’t it?
What are you baking with those you love (romantically and not), these days?
P.S most of my bowls and measuring cups are from Equal Parts. And during this specific time of feeding in need, through their non-profit @giveone, @patternbrands will be donating 1% of every Equal Parts purchase to @foodbank4nyc. Their goal is to help provide 50,000 meals for New Yorkers in need.