It’s a funny thing to think that you’ve finally found your way and then suddenly you lose it. You wake one morning and wonder where all the years have gone off to, and is this — this job, this house you made into a home, this love, this heart — the life that gives you shelter? Or is it a layover to the life you were meant to have but were too frightened to pursue it? Because in the end you want to feel as if it all mattered. In the gloaming you want to close your eyes and believe that this life was everything.
Many of my friends are on the verge. They’ve found themselves in the mid-thirties clawing their skin as if it were an article of clothing they so desperately wanted to shed. They’re anxious, filled with frenzy and doubt and longing because although we don’t want to say it…time is always moving even when we don’t it to. They’re afraid of time running out. And they wonder, have I wasted these past ten years? Have these years meant nothing?
It always means something, I say.
I invite you, for a moment, to step out of your life. To open up a notebook — not a laptop, an iPhone, an Android, an iPad — a notebook. I want you to find a pen, and I want you to sit down and free associate. Write down all the things you want from your life. Take down all the things, people, places that make you truly happy. Be fanciful. Be pragmatic. Be honest. But just write. Don’t judge, don’t pause, don’t answer your phone, don’t text, don’t email, don’t think, don’t evaluate, don’t write job descriptions. Just write.
Because distractions are like anesthesia — they never allow you to come closer to feeling, to come closer to yourself. They are fear’s magnificent tools. You need this space and quiet and honesty in order to uncover what you want and who you want to be.
Do this for thirty minutes. And then turn the page and write down all of the jobs you’ve had. Under each job write the things you loved about this job — the light that came in through the windows, the fact that you were tasked to create, the people congregating in the kitchen complaining over the tepid coffee, the work, the details, the pens and gadgets you might have held in your hand.
From all of this, start to identify patterns, words and phrases and ideas that repeat themselves. Group words that are like-minded. Continue to do this exercise for as long as you need to. Until your life reveals itself.
A year ago I did this exercise when I was in Bali — my first vacation in years — and it dawned on me that my work stress prevented me from doing one of the things I truly enjoyed: baking. All of my accoutrements were dusty, and I had abandoned my great love to be the sort of successful person I thought I should be. But this exercise revealed that pursuing all my passions will allow me to have an affection for, and perspective toward, my work. And although I love my life right now, I can’t wait for the next phase of it. For when my love of food plays a more prominent role, whatever that may be.
Today I told my friend all of this, and after I was inspired to bake. On impulse I purchased a cookbook I’ve been meaning to explore, written by a blogger who adores baked goods just as much as I do. Joy Wilson’s Joy the Baker is exquisite and a real feast for the eyes. Simply put, I want to bake EVERY SINGLE THING IN THIS BOOK.
First up are these super simple whole wheat, goat cheese and honey drop biscuits. These are so flavorful, flaky, and delicious that I had to refrain myself from devouring the whole batch.
So instead I took a quick walk down the block and enjoyed spring, in blooming.
INGREDIENTS (6-8 large biscuits): Recipe courtesy of Joy the Baker.
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. salt
2 oz. (4 Tbs./½ stick) unsalted butter, cold & cut into cubes
¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
1 cup buttermilk, cold
2 tbsp. honey
cooking spray for the pan
Place rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 400° F. Place a large (10 or 12-inch) cast-iron skillet in the oven as it preheats. If you don’t have a skillet, DON’T PANIC! A muffin tin works just as well.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Quickly incorporate the cold butter and goat cheese using your fingers, until it resembles a coarse meal. Some chunks will be bigger than others. That’s okay. Make a well in the center of the mixture.
Whisk the buttermilk and honey together. Pour into the well you formed and use a fork to blend the wet and dry ingredients together. Mix until all the flour is incorporated (no dry flour should remain). Set aside.
Carefully remove skillet from oven and add the tablespoon of butter. Swirl it around the bottom and sides of the pan until it is melted.
Spoon batter by ¼-cupful* onto skillet. You can fit about 6 in a 10″ skillet and 8 in a 12″ skillet. There should be about an inch of space between each biscuit. (So yes, do this in batches…or use two cast-iron skillets together…adding the same amount of butter to the second batch/skillet). Or, you can opt to place them all into a muffin tin.
Slide back into oven and bake for 14-16 minutes, until golden and tops appear dry and slightly firm. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes. (Repeat with remaining batter if not using a second skillet.)
For a glossy finish, brush the biscuits with slightly warm honey. Serve immediately (best) or wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.