Irony in baking zucchini bread

22 Aug

A few moments ago I had just tucked myself into bed and turned the light off and was so excited to settle in for a good night’s sleep.  But as most of us do, I took a few moments to think about the day and reflect on what happened.  The first thing that popped into my head was my zucchini bread experience that almost ended up in the garbage can.  Then I realized that the reason why I even had the great zucchini bread fiasco was because of a lack of focus….and how ironic that my last blog had the topic of focus and the word was even in my title.  Needless to say, I severely missed the mark of focus during my moments baking in the kitchen today.  On my defense, I was quite sleepy today…..I am taking care of my uncle’s dogs and staying at his house every night, and he lives almost one hour from my house.  By the time I arrived at his house last night, it was around 11 and didn’t get into bed until after midnight; then the alarm went off at 5:45 this morning so I could get back to the studio and teach my morning fitness classes.  Even coffee wasn’t doing its job with helping me to be alert .

After a full morning and afternoon, I decided to bake two loaves of a new zucchini bread recipe from a cookbook, Against All Grains.  But first, I decided to slice up my sweet potato and get the pieces into cold water because I was making oven-baked sweet potato fries for my dinner.  (this little piece of info will make sense in a moment!).  I set the oven to 425 to pre-heat and begin prepping the zucchini.  About 15 minutes into slicing the zucchini, I heard some crackling sounds coming from my oven.  For a moment I was perplexed and then I decided I better see what was making the noise.  Well, I had left two skillets in the oven and they were pretty hot…I’m not sure what would have happened if I had not decided to investigate the noise – hopefully, it would not have involved any kinds of flames, smoke, fire extinguisher, etc!!!

I continued following the recipe – greased the pans, mixed all the liquid ingredients, mixed the dry ingredients and then added them to the liquid ingredients.  I was getting ready to put the batter into the bread pans and noticed a bowl setting off to the side with a plate on it.  (Oh, yeah….I failed to mention that I soon discovered that I did not have enough almond flour to make two loaves of bread so had to make a quick run to the grocery store.  I did turn the oven off; I covered up the dry ingredients that I had been measured and covered up the zucchini.)  I realized that under that plate was the vital ingredient to making zucchini bread….the zucchini!!!! I quickly added it to the batter and then put the pans into the oven to back for the recommended 45 minutes.

About 20ish minutes into the bake time, I really began to smell the incredible aroma of the bread.  I decided to glance into the oven to see how it looked, and I quickly noted that it was looking way toooooo dark to have only been in the oven for 20 minutes.  Here’s where the sweet potato prep comes to light….you see, in order to bake the sweet potatoes, the oven has to be set to 425 degrees – that was in the back of my mind when I turned the oven on.  Zucchini bread, on the other hand, only requires 350 degrees.  That’s quite a difference in degrees.  I hurriedly pulled the bread out and let it settle for a few minutes.  It still needed just a little bit more time in the oven.  I turned back the dial to 350 and gave it some time to cool off and put the pans back in.  I intended to leave them in for 5 minutes.

By this time my dinner was done so I sat down to eat…..yep, you guessed it!  5 minutes turned into 10 minutes before I looked at the clock for another reason and then jumped up and ran to the oven expecting to pull out charcoal crisp bread.  Thankfully, it was good, and I did not have to throw it out.  But there was definitely a lesson to be learned from all of this mishap in the kitchen.  You see I was not truly focused on what I was doing.  Yes, I was reading the cookbook but I was also thinking about other things, had the radio on, was doing laundry. and answering texts.  Also, the lack of sleep was not helping me be at my best mental clarity.

I write all of this to say that when we decided to focus on those three to five things that I wrote about in my last blog, we have to make sure we truly are focused.  We can write down our goals and how we are going to focus but putting it into practice is another thing. Sleep can effect our ability to be laser sharp and at our best mentally.  Multi-tasking can diminish our ability to produce first-class work with excellence.  We have to practice being aware – being mindful – being in the moment.  When we practice those things, it helps us stay focused and ignore all the distractions that are around us.  You can guarantee that the next time I am in the kitchen following a recipe I will be totally focused on the directions for that recipe.  A quest for focus and excellence begins with the small things…..and in the kitchen.

And now I must end the blog so I can be in bed before midnight…I have five minutes 🙂

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