Baking to Heal

by Irvin on December 18, 2012 · 9 comments

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It’s hard for me to talk about cookies or baking after the events of last Friday at Sandy Hook’s Elementary School. In fact, last Friday left me utterly wordless, which, if you know me, is a rarity. Outrage, anger, complete sadness, I’m still trying to comprehend how something like that could have happened. Where do we go from there, and how do we all recover? I was shell-shocked (still shell-shocked really, broken somehow with no way to figure out how to fix it) and the only think I could think to do was go into the kitchen and bake something.

In the kitchen, baking. Photo by A.J. Bates.

It was a purely a selfish move on my part. I wasn’t baking for a bake sale, I wasn’t baking for charity, I wasn’t baking to raise awareness for gun control or mental health (though if someone knows something out there that I can bake for, let me know). No, I was baking to make myself feel better. It’s what I do. The methodical measuring and weighing of ingredients, the ritual of preheating the oven or taking my eggs out and placing them in warm water to bring them to room temperature because I never remember to bring them out earlier because I never plan things. All of the little movements, the muscle memory of whisking the dry ingredients together or creaming the sugar and butter, these are the things that comfort me. As my friend food stylist friend Krista told me, it’s becomes a bit of a zen state. Baking give me purpose and makes me feel like things will be better. Because nothing makes me feel better than watching someone I love take a bite of my baked goods and light up with pleasure.

This is why I bake and this is why I call my blog Eat the Love. In the nearly three years of writing and photographing and designing and generally talking about food, I still believe that when you eat something that someone bakes for you, you’re eating the love. And that truth is important to me. Sharing the love, especially in times like this is important.

In truth, I needed to bake as well, because AJ and I had scheduled our annual holiday party on Sunday. Our holiday party is an excuse for me to go all out and bake for three days straight, with very little sleep and come up with ridiculous recipes. But though the party was in the back of my head, that I really needed to bake more, I really went into the kitchen to try to make sense of a senseless act.

It didn’t work. Or maybe it did. I’m not sure. Nothing will ever make sense of what happened in Connecticut. But while I baked, while I made food for my friends and loved ones, I found myself falling into a rhythm again, making food for those that I love, some of whom I only see once a year. And when the party came around, as I was surrounded by my friends who I all love and adore, who I care about more than anything, I took a look at what I had made, what I had baked, how I had crowded the table with 19 desserts, including six different types of cakes (seven if you count that cheesecake, but who calls cheesecake cake?) I was able to breathe a little. Not completely but more than I had been since Friday. And that’s when I knew that things will be OK. As a person and as a community we’ll all heal. Things will get back to normal. It’s already starting I think.

But until then, I’ll continue to bake.

Table of desserts from my party. Photo by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love

I don’t have a recipe for you today – which I know sounds ridiculous since I baked 19 desserts in the past few days. But if you want holiday cookie recipe, bounce on over the Cooking Channel where I developed a recipe for lemon and gingerbread checkerboard cookies. I’ll be back with a recipe here soon. Promise.

In the meanwhile, please check out these wonderful posts about how different food bloggers have dealt with the tragedy in Newtown, CT.

And, of course, a number of bloggers (including myself) chose to hold a day of silence. If you know of any other blog posts in the community that wrote about how the tragedy affected them, I’d love to know about it. Please leave a comment for me so I can read them and add them to the list above.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

tami December 18, 2012 at 5:06 am

a beautiful post, too, Irvin. thank you so much for including me. xoxo


Gail December 18, 2012 at 6:07 am

Beautiful, Irvin.


Kay December 18, 2012 at 11:03 am

I agree with you that baking is very calming and centering. There is just something in the gentle movements of measuring, scooping, and stirring that can take your mind of things in a way chopping veggies doesn’t, although that can be therapeutic in a whole other way (tackle a butternut squash).
Elissa at Poor Man’s Feast wrote a very touching post as did Luisa at The Wednesday Chef.


Irvin December 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Thank you Kay. Those were both wonderful posts. I’ve gone ahead and added them to my list above.


Belinda @zomppa December 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Baking, being with friends, comfort, these are the times when we realize the simplest gestures can make the most impact and be most meaningful. Hugs.


Sheri December 18, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I was blissfully unaware of the horrors from Friday due to my self-imposed News Diet. Until late Saturday, when I decided to peruse the local paper. It’s unimaginable. I like what you wrote, though – it says what I think a lot of us feel.

And um. Sorry we missed you Sunday! Aaak, I just discovered the invite. After reading your blog post.


Amy Kim (@kimchi_mom) December 19, 2012 at 6:06 am

Beautiful. Thank you.


Krissy @ Make it Naked December 20, 2012 at 6:48 am

I read your blog often but wanted to comment and say thank you for a beautiful post. I really can relate. I keep finding myself going back in the kitchen and baking another batch of something. I have no reason to do so other than it just feels good. May you have a very happy holiday. Thanks again.


Ruthy @ omeletta January 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I wish i had found this post earlier, since you’ve just said, more or less, precisely how i felt (and still feel) about what happened in CT. After the tragedy, words escaped me for nearly a week (and that never happens!) and the only place i was able to find any solace was in the kitchen. Keeping my hands busy made me not dwell so much – it was all just so overwhelming. When I was finally able to write about it on my own blog it was an enormous release. Thank you for a beautiful post, Irvin- and as usual, gorgeous photos! I hope you had a lovely holiday season. X


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