The importance of slowing down

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By: Rachel Shenk

Rachel Shenk

Barely back from our wonderful vacation in the sunny European South, I was already baking up a storm at work. Our last flight had landed in South Bend around 9:15 p.m. With jet-lagged bodies, we made it home and to bed only to rise early. And here I was.

I like jumping right back in, excited to be back in my normal routine, itching to get my hands into the dough. For my first day back, I put on my old pair of cowboy boots, happy to be wearing different shoes than the ones I have been lugging in my backpack these past few weeks. My co-workers are happy also. We share our getaway stories as we get ready to reopen. Baking, cooking, mixing, cleaning, it’s definitely lively in the kitchen.

I learn again that slowing down, even waiting, is a gift.

At the end of the day, I am the only one still working. I finish that last pan of pastries so I can get them to the cooler for their nighttime rise. As I step with my right foot, my anti-skid boot stops suddenly and in my mind’s eye, I see my ankle joint bend in a way it shouldn’t. I immediately know it’s bad. In a moment of composure, I take my boot off my right foot, knowing my ankle will swell so badly it won’t come off later. Then, I make the phone call to Jim for help. He comes running and helps me get things cleaned up because tomorrow morning is the big reopening.

I go home and check the Internet for help. MICE is the new acronym: motion, ice, compression and elevation, which I follow through with. After a short night of fitful sleep (I’ve been home only 30 hours), I gear up for a busy Saturday. With the help of Anna, I make it through the morning of work and think that maybe it isn’t so bad after all. What I forget is that with these kind of injuries, one must have patience.

For the next three weeks, I spend some time on crutches. I use a cane. I hobble as needed and keep my foot up whenever I can. That’s three weeks! Three weeks that I cannot run at the park, or walk the dog in the morning, or get anywhere fast. They seem interminable.

Shortcuts in cooking often reduce the flavor.

Finally, a miracle happens. From one day to the next, I find that I can walk more easily and with less pain. I have moments when I forget what happened. I work a little more quickly. But the thing that sticks with me is that word, patience. I remember other times that I have hoped for action only to find that backing off is more useful. I learn again that slowing down, even waiting, is a gift. If I take the time I am given and use it well, I will come out stronger in the end.

It is often the same with food. Shortcuts in cooking often reduce the flavor. Letting the bread dough do its rising, allowing the baby back ribs to marinate, pressing the juice from a lime, using real butter; these are ways to be patient and present to food. And it makes all the difference in the outcome. So I suggest you plan a meal, think it through, get it down on paper, put on your patience apron and enjoy the process. Here is a recipe for granola that I make regularly. The stirring takes time but the end product is worth it.

Rachel’s Granola

Ingredients

  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cups oat bran
  • ¾ cups wheat germ
  • 1 cup nuts
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup canola oil

Directions

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together.
  2. Add the wet ingredients. Mix well.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for up to 25 minutes, stirring after the first ten minutes and every five minutes thereafter until toasted to desired color.

Baker’s note: The nuts can be changed according to taste. The original recipe called for dry roasted peanuts.

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