Yesterday I found myself in the kitchen, doing a familiar routine in my still unfamiliar kitchen. Gathering the ingredients to make homemade rolls, I placed the flour, yeast, sugar, and oil on the counter. I moved the heavy KitchenAid mixer to a spot on the counter by the only plug available, unplugging the crockpot full of simmering chicken just long enough to knead the dough.
I felt so happy. It's one of those "chicken and the egg" questions; which comes first, the baking or the happiness? Do I bake when I'm happy? Or is it that when I'm happy, I feel like baking?
It had been a beautiful morning, starting the day with writing, as usual, and then pushing myself out the door to walk along the bike trail, soaking up the sunshine. I found myself smiling, and waving at the farmers in trucks, and families in cars as they drove past me. The songs of the Meadowlarks, and the coos of the Mourning doves filled the air. The irrigation water rushed through the culverts on its way to the greening pastures.
When I arrived back at the house, I set myself to baking my Whole Wheat Rolls. Once I'd added all of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the KitchenAid, I set the timer for five minutes, to allow the mixer to do the work of kneading. My wrists would thank me later.
Within two minutes, the kitchen was overcome with fumes, but not the yummy fragrance I've come to expect from making bread. After four minutes of listening to the grinding protests of the mixer, I turned the KitchenAid off, and noticed smoke spiraling out of the gear box. Not again.
I am learning the KitchenAid is no match for my bread recipes. I even cut this batch in HALF, after burning up my first mixer a couple of Christmases ago with my 14 cup recipe. Come on, KitchenAid, a "professional mixer" should easily knead seven cups of flour.
After airing out the kitchen with an open window, the yeasty smell of rising dough replaced the acrid, smokey smell of the resting KitchenAid. Within an hour, my hands were pulling off hunks of dough, shaping them into balls, and dipping them into melted butter. While the oven preheated, I let the formed rolls rise one more time.
My little house was filled with the smell of baking bread, and simmering chicken. Whenever I bake or cook, I know that I will "feel the love." Kitchen smells, the good ones, anyway, always take me back home, to when I was a young girl, and Mom filled our house with the aroma of simmering onions, and homemade loaves of bread.
I'm still not sure if I was baking because I felt so happy yesterday, or if the baking made me feel extra-happy, but I've about decided that whether I'm having a good day or not, I can't go wrong with adding some baking to my agenda. It will make a bad day good, and a good day even better. A recipe for happiness should include a big old batch of homemade rolls.