We were at King Arthur Flour recently. This is a baking emporium, a fantasyland for cooks, just off Interstate 91 on the way to Boston. King Arthur flours are sold throughout the USA. But it is their store, or campus as they call it, in Norwich Vermont that is a regular stop when we drive south.
I can watch bakers work, get guidance on perfecting the spring in my breads, pick up arcane baking material such as sourdough starter and a crock to put it in, a variety of pizza seasonings, make-your-own vanilla kits, cupcake papers, bread mixers, pizza peels, folk art rolling pins, bagel moulds, and enough paraphernalia to require a complete kitchen redesign should we haul it back.
All we need is space. We have reached that point where 1) we really need nothing and 2) we have no more space for anything. The fundamental rule is not “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but “break it so that we can get something new to replace it.”
We have sturdy appliances from companies that went out of business long ago. The microwave is analog (yes, turn a dial, no digital read out), from Montgomery Ward.
The mixer is by Sunbeam. Like the old campaign slogan for Timex watches, which we also have, they “take a licking and keep on ticking.” I want much. I need less. Dada has room for nada.
So we walk through the aisles and buy a couple of tins of pumpkin spiced tea as gifts, get a cup of
coffee and a muffin at the café and go on our way. We still consume but we are no longer consumers. Recently, I have learned, this may not be good for our health.
There is an endorphin rush that comes from consumption. Endorphins are a natural opiate that gives us pleasure. There are many ways to release them naturally.
Eating chocolate does it. So does exercise. Sipping a cup of ginseng tea works too. Buying expensive products also appears to do this.
We know it as “retail therapy”. Shopping can make us feel good. What is even better is that, as
someone who needs nothing, I can do it altruistically.
So come the holiday season, I cheerfully shop for others. I may be buying things they probably don’t need, but why should they be so selfish if it makes me feel good. At least that’s what I am thinking. In the meantime, pass the chocolate.
Hot cup of cocoa
Comfort foods are also good for getting the endorphins out. On a cold day, few things do this better than a hot cup of cocoa. For each person, mix 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and a tablespoon of sugar with a cup of milk (regular, soy, almond, etc.) a pinch of salt and a dash of vanilla extract or your favourite liquor such as Tia Maria or Amaretto. Stir this over low heat until the cocoa and sugar are dissolved. Taste and add a little more sugar if desired. For even more comfort, supplement with a marshmallow.