Baking Break

Tonight H. went over to the house to work on some things, but I stayed here because I’ve fallen super behind on work. Whoops. And, okay, I did get a lot of work done, but I also took a little break to bake something because…well, because. That’s why. Life’s been pretty full of work lately, and sometimes you just need to step back and bake some chocolate zucchini bread.

Here’s the thing about baking: I’m pretty confident that I can do it. I am not really confident that I’m great at working on a house and my confidence in my writing waxes and wanes, but I know that I can pretty much always turn some sugar and flour into something everyone will want to eat. It’s nice to tackle something you know you can do every once in awhile. Thank God for recipes.

This chocolate zucchini bread comes together super easily, and if you have a lot of extra zucchini hanging out in your garden/CSA box/fridge, it’s the perfect way to use it. I’ve already made zucchini sautés, zucchini & panko bakes, and zucchini, cilantro, and lime stir-fries. Those things are all good, but you know what they don’t have? Chocolate.

I made a few changes to the recipe, mostly because I ran out of white sugar, but I stuck pretty closely to the original.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
adapted from Taste of Home

3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
3 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups shredded zucchini

In a large bowl, beat the sugars, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture until blended. Stir in zucchini. Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

While I was baking, I listened to The X-Files Files, Kumail Nanjiani’s new-ish podcast devoted to, you guessed it, The X-Files. It’s pretty amazing if you love the show like I do. And if you haven’t seen the show, the first episode is a great introduction to why it’s so awesome. Mulder + Scully forever.

Life Lately

front steps
I haven’t been blogging much lately because…we bought a house!

(Insert fireworks display, cymbals crashing, and triumphant trumpet sounds here.)

Yes, finally, after a year of looking at hoarder houses, smelly houses, and houses with naked people standing nearby, we finally found a house that wasn’t owned by a hoarder, doesn’t involve ANY naked people, and is only sort of smelly (it’s cigarette smoke and we’re fixing it).

The picture above is us sitting on our new front steps. That picture makes it look like I got some sort of edgy Jennifer Lawrence haircut, but I just had my hair in a bun (I have curly hair, so I can never cut it short or else I’d look like young Shia LaBeouf). I’m never going to post a photo of the house’s exterior anywhere on the Internet because I think people who do that are insane. Like, y’all know there are murderers and stalkers everywhere, right? Why not just buy a light-up sign that says “Hey, here’s my house! I’m over here for the murdering!”?

Other than that, here’s what I’ve been up to:

-Going to a baseball game. I still don’t know how baseball works.

I did, however, deeply enjoy the hotdog and the fireworks show.

-Enjoying a nice bottle of Dom Perignon with our friends. Okay, so you may have correctly guessed that bottles of Dom are NOT a typical part of my lifestyle because I’m not 50 Cent (sorry if you were under the impression that you were reading 50 Cent’s blog–life is probably very confusing for you). It was a wedding gift that we saved for a special occasion.

-Washing walls and ripping up carpet. I’m much better at writing and planning parties than I am at physical work (listen, we all have our weaknesses, and I’m VERY AWARE of mine), but luckily we have plenty of family and friends to help us. Which is good, because the first day that H. and I were working I laid down in our empty guest room and fell asleep for half an hour. Anyway, I’m enjoying the process and seeing our progress, but I’ll still be glad when it’s done.

-Playing sweet board games like King of Tokyo. I won the first time I played, but I’ve lost every time since. Maybe it’s because I have no strategy and I’m not competitive. Either way, this game rules.

-Crying so hard that H. thought something was wrong with me after I read this Buzzfeed article about this dog. In retrospect, it was a very bad idea for me to read that, but it reminded me why I’m 100% committed to getting shelter dogs! Also, my family has a black lab and he’s the best dog ever, so obviously I’m biased. I mean, look at him:

If I’m not around here much, that’s because I’m ripping carpet out with my brute strength. Please keep your thoughts with me. I’m wielding a utility knife and I’m feeling very vulnerable.

Lady Inspiration: Roxane Gay

By now, you probably all know and love Roxane Gay. If you don’t, then we are clearly using different internets. Either way, Roxane Gay rules and she’s one of my writing role models. I’m always in awe of her productivity, her amazing and emotional prose, and her great attitude. This interview on The Great Discontent just further illustrates her awesomeness.

The whole thing is worth reading, especially the part about the Midwest, but I’ve really been thinking about this:

“Writing is not a tortured act for me. I don’t have any angst about it, and I don’t find it to be a painful misery. Writing is the one endeavor that makes me purely happy, and it comes fairly easily to me. I don’t know why I’m that lucky, but it’s true.
There are definitely times when I have writer’s block, and it’s infuriating, but writers love to dramatize the suffering of the writer. I don’t judge them on that, because it’s their truth, but I’m suffering when I’m not writing: it’s what I do for fun. When people say I’m prolific, I think, “Well, it’s kind of my self-medication, and it doesn’t feel like work.”
I’m a happy writer, and although that hasn’t always been the case, I count my blessings. I’m finally in the place I’ve always dreamed of. Maybe my dreams weren’t that big, but I just wanted to write and have people read what I had to say one way or another. I have that, and I have been lucky to work with editors who let me be myself in my writing. I wrote the novel I wanted to write, I wrote the essay collection I wanted to write, and I haven’t had to compromise. I’m truly creatively satisfied.”

Pretty often, it’s easy to get sucked into this whole “writing is torture” thing, because that’s the way a lot of public writers treat it. It’s good to remember that it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s not how everyone views writing! Most of us started doing it because it was fun, or satisfying, or just because we were good at it, and I think it’s useful to reconnect with those feelings when we’re starting to get discouraged. Writing is work, but it shouldn’t be torture.