Sunday, January 8, 2012

Absence makes the heart grow fonder...maybe?

Hello again and happy new year!  When I abruptly stopped posting over the summer I hadn't intended on staying away so long.  I found that the longer I went without posting, the more difficult it was to return to it because I didn't have any reason for having stopped.  Well, I had a reason, but it was a little hard to admit that the reason I stepped away was because I was cranky about the whole thing.  As an avid home baker, giving up wheat made me rather uncreative in the kitchen on several levels.  I was finding sporadic moments of creativity, but for the most part we ate a lot of bunless burgers, grilled meats over salad, or grilled meats alongside grilled veggies.  It felt very uninspiring and mundane, which makes for an empty blog post: "Here's some okay pictures... and a recipe (of sorts) was pretty good...I guess. I mean, we ate it and all, do you want to?" Not the most riveting of possibilities. 

On top of that fact, I was finding when I did have moments of creativity they were struggles.  Serious struggles.  I have an unfinished post from back in July entitled: "What will I set on fire next?" (it was a rough week). Giving up wheat means looking at baking from a whole new direction, and with very unfamiliar ingredients.  There are tons of blogs and cookbooks devoted to gluten free cooking and I have found several I really like, but I was finding that a lot of them used odd ingredients (gums, extracts, and processed...things) that I would never have bought for regular baking.  I didn't want to purchase those types of ingredients because our purpose of avoiding wheat wasn't to go gluten free, but to avoid processed and refined foods.  That excluded a lot of those ingredients the gluten free website were calling for in their quest to make gluten free recipes taste and feel like the real thing.  To avoid their replacement ingredients, I was flying by the seat of my pants, having a lot of hard landings, and not being able to replicate my results for the sporadic successes. 

Over the months, our commitment to going wheat-less slowly deteriorated.  We never reintroduced breakfast cereals, lunchtime sandwiches, or crackers and such at snack time, but we were definitely incorporating more and more into our diet (it might not sound like it, but trust me, wheat was slowly making a comeback).  Now that the holidays are over (especially my cookie baking extravaganza) we are going to be returning a bit more to our plan, but instead of going wheat-less we are just going to focus on eating less wheat.  The wheat that crept into our dinner plans will be reduced and the desserts with wheat will be less frequent.  Since it won't be missing entirely, I don't have to worry about being a frustrated baker.  I'll probably be baking just as often as before, which is around once every week or two.  Since I won't be using up all my creative energies trying to replace my favorite baked goods, I'll have some left over to apply towards lunches and dinners. (Sorry, breakfast, you miss out. You're still going to be either oatmeal or eggs, I have no patience for creativity in the mornings because I'm sleepwalking until nearly noon).

I think the final reason I walked away for a while was because of the stress I was giving myself over both the quantity and quality of my posts.  I wasn't quite happy with either.  I felt that I needed to post as often as possible so as not to disappoint anyone, and that each post needed to be littered with beautiful process shots.  As lovely as that sounds it doesn't seem to be my style, and really, there are already so many people who naturally post like that (and who will be able to do it much better than myself.)   

It is so easy to compare yourself with others who are much more talented (and experienced) and in doing so fall short.  I had to remind myself that my blog on this little corner is not supposed to stress me out, it is supposed to relieve stress (wait, that is what hobbies are for, right?).  I'm not getting graded or paid or forced to do this.  I'm doing it because I want to.  Since it is for me (and you just happen to be eavesdropping on my thoughts ;-) which, by the way, I've discovered from Hey, Babe are strange since I think them in narration) I'm much more concerned with quality.  I'm probably not going to be posting more than once a week.  I'm not necessarily going to include a ton of pictures just to have them (if I'm satisfied with how well they came out, that's another story).  I'm not going to be posting our monthly menus anymore.  We still do them but since they no longer follow the months but are instead on a 5 week rotation that doesn't fit nicely in my square box thinking ;-) (plus I think that nearly a full years worth of example is probably quite enough to get an idea of how to make one). 

There are some things that I am going to be doing.  I am going to be more certain that I am satisfied with the work I post.  I am going to try to post more of the recipes that I've been asked for copies of (a Cheddar Beer Bread that reminds me of Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits is high on that list).  Finally, I am going to relax about this and enjoy myself.  As a stay at home Mom, I should already be accustomed to a more relaxed pace, but for some reason with blogging I wasn't following that.  Here's to a new year with less stressing and more enjoying the trip without focusing so much on the destination.  Happy New Year to you all, may it be the best one yet.
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