Baking the Blues
On any given day, there are a handful of things that can turn my mood around. Most often, however, the two big things that can severely alter my mood for the better are working out and baking. I find that both activities cheer me up for completely different reasons.
Some of my best workouts happen after some of my worst days. There’s nothing quite like turning up Cee Lo’s “F You” on my iPod and pounding out sprints on the treadmill. The adrenaline that comes from a furious cardio workout burns away even my worst stress. After pushing myself, I feel accomplished, strong, and powerful—all things that boost my self-confidence and make me feel ready to take on a challenge.
Baking relieves my stress for an entirely different reason. As a teacher, I often feel like I am pulled in a million different directions on any given day. In my four years of teaching, I have become a master of multi-tasking, but at the end of some days, I feel frazzled and fried—like I don’t even know where my day went. Baking is the complete opposite of multi-tasking. It is literally a science, and it requires focus and a complete attention to detail. At the end of a long day, spending fifteen minutes creaming butter and sugar and making cookie dough can feel almost zen-like. And the results are always delicious, to boot.
Today wasn’t a bad day, by any means, but my stress levels have started rising again as of late. My grad school summer session started last night, and the first night of class, when you glance at the syllabus and see what is expected of you over the course of the next six weeks, is always overwhelming. We’re in the final stretch of the school year, which means assessments, cleaning out my room, and getting my act in order before summer break. It also means that my summer curriculum writing job is right around the corner (beginning the day after school gets out). Then I’m spending the rest of the summer bouncing around to visit various friends and family—Florida to Maryland to Boston to Connecticut to Rhode Island to North Carolina. Today was not a bad day, but it was a day when I needed a workout and some baking to bring me back to myself.
My workout was simple but effective: 35 minutes of intervals on the treadmill (2 minutes at a 5.3 pace, 2 minutes at 5.5, 2 minutes at 5.8, repeat) and 15 minutes of intervals on the bike (2 minutes level 8, 2 minutes level 10, repeat). I finished it out with a 20 minute full-body weights session (I’ve been following this plan for about two weeks now. Simple, but I leave feeling strong and a little bit sore—always good!)
And then I baked. Oh, yes I did. I came home knowing that blueberries were going to be the star of the show tonight. Giant had pints of blueberries on sale this week for buy one, get one free. I was a little overzealous and bought FOUR PINTS. Yes, four pints of blueberries. For myself. I don’t want these beautiful babies to go bad on me, so I decided that they could take center stage in a new recipe.
I deferred to this recipe that I found, if only because it got such positive reviews.
(Hello, crumbly topping)
(Blueberry syrup worth bathing in)
Oh, my heavens. This crappy picture doesn’t do these things justice. Trust me. If you like blueberry cobbler, make these bars because that’s essentially what these are. And there is nothing wrong with portable blueberry cobbler, in my humble opinion.
Good day, bad day, mediocre day, it doesn’t matter. All I know is that, today, I’m happy I took the time to bake the blues. I feel better already.