A lot of people, upon learning that I love to bake, say something like, "I hate to bake because you have to be so exact." Aaaaah... that's exactly why I love it so much.
Most of the time, life is messy and unpredicatable. There are so many things about it that don't make sense (at least not to me.) It's constantly a surprise. There is no owner's manual or recipe to follow. And the only thing you can really count on is that life is going to be changing and different all the time. Baking is not like life at all. When I bake, I can carefully measure my ingredients. I put them together as the recipe tells me to. I put them in the oven at a precise temperature for a certain amount of time. In the end, I always get the same product, every single time. Well, I get the same product ALMOST every time. Occassionally there are conditions that you can't control, and you have to work around (high humidity, heat, etc.) And sometimes, things go wrong for no reason that you can come up with (the Big Karaoke Cake Debacle of 2011 is a perfect example.) But, most of the time, baking is predictable. Baking is safe. I can totally count on baking.
Yesterday, I made banana bread from an old recipe that belonged to my childhood neighbor. Despite the fact that we didn't share genetics, we called her Grandma Vasey. She was a very elderly spitfire of a woman. I'm pretty sure that her picture is next to the word "sassy" in Webster's dictionary. She made the best baked goods on the planet. She was pretty amazing. And lucky for us, she left lots of little pieces of herself in our recipes boxes. Her banana bread absolutely, positively kicks ass.
It is dense and moist and all that is wonderful and right with the world. It helps me remember Grandma Vasey and some of my most lovely childhood memories. It makes me feel like at least something in my life is a little bit predictable. And quite frankly, I could use all the predictable I can get.