Friday, November 13, 2020

More Baking, Less Quaking: Use Your Words


Use Your Words, a multiblogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics

Today’s post is a monthly writing challenge. If you’re new here, this is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once. All of the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the recipient will take them. Until now.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.
I'm using:  purpose ~ get a grip ~ compound ~ perimeter ~ rescue ~ track
They were submitted by Tamara of Part-time Working Hockey Mom.

 I bake. A lot. Perhaps you know that. I started this blog, in fact, because I was sharing food pics on FB and people were asking for recipes. I have to admit that although that was what got me thinking about starting a blog, it was the push from a few friends, and my own agenda, that pushed me to jump off this particular cliff.  
I had teenagers at the time. No need to pity me now, I survived it (with a whole lot of grey in my hair but I'm still breathing, so there's that). But this blog and the distraction it provided is without a doubt part of what rescued me. Through humor and creativity, I was able to get a grip on some pretty stressful times. Yes, by just avoiding them, at least for a part of the day, but it mattered. A lot. The writing, running of challenges, graphics creating, recipe developing, picture taking and editing served its purpose, distraction, just allowing my mind to be somewhere else for a chunk of the day.

Distraction is something most of us do in some way or another, it's about self-preservation. But this is especially true for those like me who have an extreme level of anxiety running through our family trees. There always has to be a way to either release or escape the stress on a regular basis. Like when College Boy lights my car on fire, or PurDude falls out a window at his frat and breaks a leg. You know, those kinds of kid-induced stresses.

There are those who run. Not as in away, as in a circle around a track over and over again. Truth is, exercise does get those endorphin levels up, helping alleviate stress. When the boys were little, I had a double stroller and I'd walk/run them 4 miles a day through the neighborhood. We'd talk and sing and, in fact, that's how they learned their phone number. At a very young age, I made a song of the number (no, it's not 867-5309, didn't even use that song) and we'd sing it over and over so if they were ever in a situation where they needed help, they could tell an adult how to get hold of their mom.

So although I could do a 4 mile walk/run, once they had broken the second double stroller I'd bought, forcing me to admit they were just too big for that situation, I stopped going. First, I couldn't leave them at home and second, I needed the talking and the songs to keep me going. It just wasn't the same alone. And there are no mountain trails here, nor beaches to walk {{sigh}}.

Next I turned to reading. It was, and remains, a love of mine. If you knew me at all back then IRL, you know I'm skipping over my shopping phase and jumping right over to reading here. Yes, I admit it. My name is Karen and I'm a shopaholic. In my defense, we'd sold our house and bought a much bigger one. The single guy who bought our last house also bought most of the furniture from me. So really, compound interest be damned, I could either shop or we could sleep on the floor. Of course this doesn't explain the decorations and tchotchkes and all, but I could say I was just creating a pretty environment for the family. The fact that the family could care less about pretty was not even on the perimeter of my thought process back then. But the reality of the situation is that despite how much I enjoyed this distraction, once the house was furnished and decorated, it was done (although many years later my youngest son got his first apartment which I furnished and decorated in one rather exhausting weekend. It was fun though, you can read about it and see the pictures here: Home with an H.

So on to reading which, although it was a good escape, didn't allow me to be creative at all. I needed more than just books (yes, I can see some of my avid reader friends shake their heads at this blaspheme, trying to figure out what more than books a person might need). Finishing a book is not the accomplishment that creating a recipe and seeing the boys' eyes light up (well, and all those of all the other kids who started coincidentally stopping by at snack time).

Pear and Apple Galette, a rustic version of a pie featuring fresh pear and apple slices, baked in a pie crust with a hint of apricot and the crunch of walnuts. | Recipe developed by | #recipe #dessert

Pear and Apple Galette
Pear and Apple Galette, a rustic version of a pie featuring fresh pear and apple slices, baked in a pie crust with a hint of apricot and the crunch of walnuts. | Recipe developed by | #recipe #dessert

My mom bakes. In fact, at any family event she was always asked to bring dessert. Or multiple desserts. And she never disappointed. So maybe along with that anxiety, there's also a baking gene somewhere in my DNA. I'm nowhere near as good, but it sure did serve multiple purposes as the boys were growing up. And really brought so many people into my life through this blog. I am eternally grateful. 
These days I'm a semi-empty-nester. Actually, a revolving-door-er. They come and go and although I'd love to have my younger son closer, I do appreciate that when he's here, it's for chunks of time during which I get to see him living in his childhood room, something that makes me infinitely happy. Other than when the boys are around, recipe development and interpretation has taken on a whole new purpose. With Hubs' gallbladder acting up, I've had to learn to shop and cook and bake completely differently. Functionally, at a time when I thought I'd be cooking and baking less, he's provided me with the challenge necessary to keep me blogging through the anxiety and aggravation and sky high stress of the trump debacle and the coronavirus. Don't tell Hubs, but as unhappy as he is with that gallbladder, I'm thinking I owe that particular bile storing organ a debt of gratitude.

Here are links to all the other Use Your Words posts:

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Pear and Apple Galette

1 refrigerated pie crust (half of a 2-crust package)
1 apple of your choice (I prefer Braeburn or Honeycrisp)
1 ripe Bartlett pear
1/4 cup apricot jam
3 TBSP apricot brandy (can substitute orange juice)
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

OPT: whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the pie crust on a piece of parchment paper so it's about 12 inches in diameter. Move the crust, on the parchment paper, to a baking sheet.
*Whisk together the apricot jam, apricot brandy (or orange juice), brown sugar, and cinnamon. Using a pastry brush, paint about half of this mixture onto the crust.
*Peel, core and slice the apple into thin pieces (approximately 24 slices). Core and slice (you can peel also if you prefer) the pear into thin pieces (approximately 16 slices). Fan out the fruit, alternating between pear and apple slices (it'll work out to about 2 apple slices, the 1 pear slice then 1 apple slice then 1 pear and repeat) in a circle about 1 inch from the edges, then fan the remaining slices around the center to cover the crust. The center slices will overlap some with the edge slices).
*Fold the 1 inch edges over the fruit. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on. Drizzle with the remaining apricot jam mixture, sprinkle with the walnuts and bake for another 15 minutes. Serve warm.


  1. Who knew about the gallbladder’ secret quality?
    Love how your sons learned your phone number by practicing a song!
    Happy Friday!

    1. I used to laugh thinking that, if ever someone asked one of those little boys what he phone number was, they'd be surprised when he started singing, but that's exactly what would have happened.

  2. Baking stresses me out, I am no good at it. The cake will crumble, the icing run and pies I don’t know where to start. The crust usually will crumble and the ingredients bubble out. I want to be like my cousins and start from scratch, but box cake mix and canned frosting is my lot and still always a mess. So I call my local bakery and spend a pretty penny for baked goods, but I can have them with my coffee without the fuss and muss.
    I know I didn’t use your words, I used mine. I made it up as I went.

  3. Well, spouse and I are already planning how to make this, although we don't have all the ingredients. We have apples (not pears), we have blackberry jam and blackberry brandy, and piecrust, watch out. Enjoyed the origin story of your blog, too. Alana

    1. Looking forward to hearing what you think when you make it!

  4. Oh the joys and creativity of STRESS!
    I think I owe about 17 of my novels to that emotion...

    1. Well, at least you can say it's been lucrative. All I've got to show for my writing is a little bit of remaining sanity.

  5. Yep, there's nothing like having a life of stress for driving you to do something creative as an outlet. In your case, i am glad, the word counters challenge is indeed keeping me on my toes. When is our next one again?

  6. Replies
    1. Yeah, I loved doing it pushing the double stroller, both for the company and because it was great exercise for my arms as well.

    2. Yeah, in my early twenties I found I was able to do at least three miles on the treadmill, and now-a-days I keep getting calls from the Y for my indoor fitness return, but I may pass, I enjoy getting outdoors.

  7. I love reading but I still have to create something. It's a matter of input/output. If I don't get some out more won't fit in lol.

  8. I think that's what keeps doing these blog challenges. reading is a great escape, and I've flown through a series of books this year on top of all the reading I do to homeschool my kid, but creating is a different feeling. Constructing a world in a short story or putting out there all the feelings of the things you're avoiding in life or painting bats on the wall (ok maybe that's just specific to me haha) or a just hits different. thanks for creating a space that pushes all of us to keep creating!

    1. I'm honored to be writing with you, Jenniy, you're so talented.


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