A dash of . . .
by Sheri McGregor, M.A.
There’s something about the holidays that draws me into the kitchen. The jaunty tunes, colorful displays, and homey scents of cinnamon and pine conjure comforting memories: Poking toothpicks into cupcakes, sucking on candy canes, and my mom following recipes she clipped from the newspaper. She committed the steps and ingredients to memory long before the food splatters and faded print rendered them unreadable. My mom was a practical cook who could stretch staples like milk and flour, or beans and potatoes, into tasty, stick-to-your-ribs food. Maybe you can relate.
I’m more of a toss, dash, and experiment sort, but in my own way, with my own creations, I’ve become a fantastic savory cook. Other than my bread making phase, baking hasn’t been my forte, but I know enough to get by. And as a busy working mom, one thing I learned was to substitute. Not enough butter or oil? There’s always applesauce … .or shortening (is that still around?). No buttermilk? Add lemon juice, white vinegar, or cream of tartar to regular milk. Low on cocoa powder? Well, dark coffee provides rich depth to decadent cakes. And that’s how it is in life. As our circumstances change, we learn to substitute and adapt.
I’m not suggesting that a new hobby or a few drops of almond extract will bring you to bliss, but just as applesauce instead of butter lightens the fat, fun pursuits can lighten the load. A spiritual retreat, travel plans, or a lighthearted friend can make life rich. Being engaged in our day-to-day routines, open to the people we meet, and trying new activities, gives us something to happily recall as we close our eyes and settle into sleep each night.
This time of year, when the holidays can bring feelings of loneliness and despair, learn to lean on and savor anything good. A favorite book, a catchy song, or an entertaining show. Friendly chit-chat with a fellow shopper, the service rep over the phone, and the neighbor who is also taking out the trash.
Do your children neglect or abuse you? Love yourself.
Add a dash of fun and keep what’s best for you in sight.
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