With any mental health issues, there is a lot of self-care required. This can be anything that makes you feel better; from reading, writing down your thoughts, talking to people, playing games, cooking, watching movies/TV, pampering yourself with facemasks etc. Who you are and what type of person you are dictates the kind of things that will help you get through the worst of days.
I’ve not really touched on in any of these blogs how cooking and baking can help you.
I consider myself a decent cook, but I wouldn’t say I’m brilliant. I sometimes find that creating something tasty with your own hands is a good way of feeling better about yourself or even just spending time doing something other than staring at social media and feeling worse about yourself.
I like to cook and can make a range of dishes, from simple – throwing pasta, cheese and tuna into a bowl – to more complicated – salt & pepper chicken. But baking isn’t ever something I’ve been all that great at or something that I’ve done a lot of.
At the beginning of the year, when we entered our first national lockdown, I – like many other people around the world – decided that I would bake some bread.
I’ve never baked bread before so I was nervous about how it would turn out, but I threw myself into it anyway. I found a recipe – I think it was on BBC Good Food – for a simple white loaf, gathered all the ingredients together and set off on my bready journey.
I cautiously followed every stage of the recipe, not wanting to deviate from it because God knows what would have happened if I did. But even though I was following the recipe to the letter, at every stage, I would second guess myself and think that it didn’t look or feel right. Anyway, once the dough was made, shaped and thrown in the oven I held my breath – figuratively otherwise I would probably have passed out – until the bread was baked. When it was in the oven, I would occasionally peek through the glass door and wonder if it was meant to look like it did.
Eventually, once the bread was done, I could breathe again as what came out, looked like real bread. I know it was “real bread,” but when you produce something that looks like it’s come fresh from the bakery, it’s a shock – I really didn’t think it would look that good. Maybe you can give me your opinion on it from the images below.
Anyway, once it had cooled and we decided we would have some – we chose to have some very large cheese butties – and honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever tasted bread as nice. I know, I know, I’m biased because I made it, but being that I didn’t think I’d ever make bread that looked good, nevermind tasted good it was even better.
I’ve not really made anything else since, other than the meals that we eat at night. But the urge to bake some more bread is always there. I look forward to giving it another try.
At the time, I wasn’t feeling brilliant, but focusing on baking really took my mind off things and gave me something a little bit different to focus on that wasn’t just movies and games – at this time I couldn’t even concentrate on writing all that well.
To anyone thinking of giving it a go, I’d tell them that baking bread is a great and different way to occupy your mind. I’d say any kind of baking is, as it allows maybe just that little bit more creativity than regular cooking might.
Recently we made some flapjacks. Not just any flapjacks but cinnamon and raisin flapjacks; and they were amazing. Alex did the bulk of the work on them, as I stood by assisting where I could and moving my crutch out of the way.
Below is the recipe that we used. I just thought I’d share it so if you fancied it you could give it a go.
- 300g butter
- 150g light brown sugar
- 6 tbsp golden syrup
- 500g porridge oats
- 100g of raisins
- 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
- STEP 1 – Preheat the oven to 180C/160C
- STEP 2 – Grease the bottom of a 20cm baking tin
- STEP 3 – Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a small pan, stir regularly until the butter melts
- STEP 4 – Once melted, take the pan off the heat and pour in the oats and raisins, making sure to cover the oats evenly. Add cinnamon and mix in.
- STEP 5 – Tip the mixture into the greased tin and level out with the back of a spoon
- STEP 6 – Bake for 25 minutes or until brown around the edges
- STEP 7 – Remove from the oven and leave to cool down for 2-3 minutes in the tin then remove from the tin and leave a further 5 minutes
- STEP 8 – Once cooled, cut into slices and enjoy
We made one with raisins and one without, so if you don’t like raisins you don’t have to put them in. There are plenty of things you could put in them, raisins, chocolate, cherries and nuts, to name just a few.
If you do have a go, let me know how they turned out and what you thought about them.