30 June 2011

On Hobbies

Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles
For many years I've said that I need a hobby. I have trouble with work/life balance and thought a hobby would help. A good hobby would help me find that balance by forcing me to think of something other than correcting papers and preparing lessons.

I could collect something, I thought. Nah, what would I collect and where would I put a collection? I could learn to knit or crochet; those are two trendy hobbies that many of my friends already participate in. Nah, I don't have the patience or attention span to count four and do whatever to two.

I could do half-marathons! Actually tried that one and did several, but it gets kind of expensive when you have to go out of town and get a hotel room the night before for a 7 am start. I did enjoy the sense of accomplishment, but the time involved in preparing became too much once my teaching day started at 7:20 a.m.

Ooh, photography! That's a hobby I could do. Actually, this is sort of a hobby, but I don't seem to get out enough to really practice. The last time I was really out to take photos was when my husband and I visited the ruins of the Sutro Baths (see photo slideshow at right). Photography, as much as I enjoy it, isn't something that I can really practice weekly.

Blackened tofu w/ Jerked Asparagus
I have bemoaned my lack of a hobby as well as my lack of sticking with one. I realized a few weeks ago, that I DO have a hobby and have had it for years. I love to cook. Or bake. I don't know that I'm particularly good at it in the classic sense of expectations, but I enjoy it and my friends seem to enjoy eating my experiments. My husband is great about eating my experiments too (thank heavens he's not a picky eater!).

Lately, I've been into vegan baking. I have two cookbooks from which I'm working and every recipe has been delicious. The carrot cake cupcakes were the best carrot cake I've ever had, period.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Scones
A few weeks back I started veganizing* recipes that I've had for years. My favorite conversion so far has been scones. The original recipe came from a friend of my mom's and has a classic texture (crispy on the outside and light and fluffy, but still substantial on the inside). The recipe veganized perfectly and has the added benefit of flaxseeds! Both the chocolate chip version and the cranberry orange version have worked well.

I've often thought about how foreign it sounds to my American palate to bake without butter or eggs. It also seems odd to cook without cheese or meat (I've been doing without the meat for 20 years though). Think about this, during World War II, food was rationed. Home cooks had to do without butter, eggs, cheese and meat for many of their recipes. Don't forget that flour and sugar was rationed too (along with most other foods unless they were grown in home Victory Gardens). I want to hunt down some of those old recipes and cook them up.

At the same time, I'll probably work on my food photography. I usually have my phone handy so that will probably be my camera of choice, but it will require some adjustments because of flash quality.

Strangely, I feel better now that I know I have a hobby. I imagine I'll stick with this one since it's been around for years (my earliest kitchen memory is helping my mom do the canning when I was about five) and I just seem to enjoy it more and more.

*this is a fairly common word on vegan blogs. Veganize=to make a standard recipe vegan.