Circling Back to Life (and Bread!)

Country Loaf with olives, walnuts, lemon zest

It’s been a hot minute since my last post. Do folks even read blogs these days? [her shoulders form an exaggerated shrug] I dunno…

Here I am either way.

Since my last post, a pandemic has come and gone (is it gone??). I am now a grandmother to a beautiful two-year-old. My mother-in-law has left this world. I had a teeny, tiny heart attack. (That in and of itself is a tale for another day; I am healed and stronger than ever!) Travel came to a standstill. Then travel came back full force, perhaps even more so than pre-pandemic.

In other words, the circle of life has continued.

It seems so many people channeled their inner chef during Covid times. Bread was baked, gourmet meals were whipped up, cocktails were imbibed. Oddly, I went the opposite direction. I still cooked, but I went basic. I baked no bread. Zero. My drinking decreased. A little. We ate super healthy and worked out more. Cooking became an aside for me for the first two years of the pandemic: more need based, less creative outlet. The third year of pandemic found us finally delving into the kitchen renovation project we had planned to begin summer of 2020. (Another tale for another post…btw, it turned out gorgeous!)

I was halfway through a writing program at SMU when the pandemic hit. The program was eventually dismantled, but some of the former instructors took it online during the pandemic. I kept up for a couple of classes, and I also formed an online writing group that met daily. I took a few other online classes. In many ways, those years were a time of connection for me, a time of rediscovering who I am and what I want and need in my life.

I haven’t written much since my heart attack, but I am beginning to get back to my novel (fiction; NOT food based). In May 2024 I will be attending a writing workshop in France (!) for one week. I was shocked that my submission was accepted and that I was invited to join.

And I’ve been re-engaging my own inner chef. In January I began bread-baking in earnest. I had forgotten how much I love the aroma of freshly baked breads, not to mention the taste. Nothing beats a freshly baked loaf slathered with a smear of salted butter. My increasing waistline has reminded me why I need to take it a bit slower with this renewed love. I’ve been using techniques from Chad Robertson’s “Tartine” books, which work beautifully and yield amazing breads. My favorite so far is the basic country loaf with lemon zest, olives and walnuts. I serve it next to European style butter topped with sea salt and herbs de Provence.

Here I am, full circle, back to Cleansed Palate. I hesitated in my return. I’ve steered away from social media in recent years to sustain my mental health and energy, and I fear this will throw me right back into all that mess. I’ll take this slow. One word at a time. One post at a time.

Buon Appetito, y’all!