Did you know that research has shown that baking has positive effects on depression? I only discovered this while in isolation. Baking is a form in mindfulness, and can help relieve the symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. It helps us use our creativity and brings on a sense of nurturing others, as well as nourishing your own wellbeing. I think that explains, why my Grandmother, was always so happy in the afternoons after she prepared sweet treats for everyone.
Lately I’ve found inner peace in the strangest of ways, one of those is baking scones. Did you know that scones come in all different flavours? Some of my own favourites, pumpkin and pecan scones or date scones, which taste a little like, sticky date pudding. My teenage children have even caught onto having scones with tea, as a family in the afternoons. The last time, I enjoyed such simple satisfaction, was when I was a child, at my Grandparents house in the summer, in the southern highlands along the coast in Sydney, Australia. The breeze was always cool, the air fresh and the trees filled with eucalyptus leaves and bright red bottle brushes.
My Grandmother was always a baker, she spent hours in the kitchen, with the sun coming in through the window and chooks at her feet, waiting for the crumbs. By heart she knew the recipes of pastry for apple and blackberry pie. In autumn she used to head out into the garden, down the very back of the yard, and pick blackberries fresh off the vines, to go into the pie for dessert, after dinner. Her Yorkshire puddings, were the original type, filled with fat and butter. When we were younger, she would have our aprons ready, with the biscuit cutters, and we would have our own pastry to make what ever we liked. Then we would lay out on the front porch in the sun wearing shorts and singlets, threading beads or colouring in our books. After that we’d head down the road to the river in the forest to swing and walk across the logs. Life was fun, but it was simple.
This is a time when we can all relish in simple pleasures. When we can take a little snap shot from our Grandparents and realise that while we may have technology at our hands, the real pleasure is taking your mind and heart some where else, where you can be creative, give to others and come together as a family. Its possible you may not have much to cook with, they didn’t either, but they made the best with what they did have, and it was always a time to be together.
Baking is a form of meditation, we allow ourselves to focus on something greater than ourselves, all of the mixing, rolling out the dough and cutting the shapes, keeps us focused and present on the moment. We can also add fresh herbs or veggies from the garden, include the children or our partner. And at the end, we have such a sense of accomplishment, that we can share with others.
While I prefer the true and tried version of scones from The Country Women’s Association in Australia, with home made three berry jam and pot of freshly brewed English breakfast tea. They can be made healthier, with blueberries, pumpkin or dates, and you could try swapping out the traditional flour with stoneground or gluten free and having them with a mug of hot chocolate or a cappuccino.
Often I’ll play some classical music or my personal favourite Andrea Bocelli, while I am allowing my creative juices flow. And basically just let the scones make themselves. Home baking, is linked with a longer life, healthier and happier children and a greater ability to experience social joy. It is even a time to share recipes and stories from older generations.