January is National Hobby Month; so what better time to examine our hobbies and interests and perhaps evaluate our "hobby status" and how well they fit with our lives at present.
Are we actively practicing our hobbies? Do they perhaps need an injection of new life and vitality? Or do they need to be laid to rest to make way for a new, more enjoyable hobby? Different phases in our lives often beckon different types of hobbies. Too busy for a hobby, you say? Not enough time, energy, or interest in having a hobby? . . . . and why do we need a hobby anyway?
The value of having a hobby in our lives, though perhaps not widely understood, is well established. Having a hobby can have a positive impact on your life and even your health. By distracting the mind from stresses of life, having a hobby can sometimes offer a different perspective on something and can often assist in problem solving. This can often act as a mood elevator and even result in lowering the blood pressure. In this way, hobbies can literally be good for you; improving your overall health and well-being in addition to adding a good measure of happiness to your life simply by doing something you enjoy doing that is outside the realm of your normal occupation or vocation.
I recommend, of course, cooking as a favorite hobby. Cooking as a hobby is very practical, as well as just plain old enjoyable. There are many types of cooking to choose from and many areas of interest to concentrate on. You can even change your "specialty" every year to keep things fresh and interesting and still continue to use mostly the same tools and utensils without renewed investment whenever you decide to change specialties. In addition, you get to enjoy, and share with others if you like, the results of your creative efforts.
Having a "beta bunch" is a great way to enjoy the fruits of your labor and get helpful feedback so you can continue to improve your skills on a continual basis. Remember the movie, "Julie and Julia" from a couple of years ago? Julie was cooking her way through Julia Child's French Cookbook so she had her friends come over to share the meals she prepared. This is what I call "beta" people because we are testing things out on them and they are willing participants in the mad scientist/guinea pig scenario.
Ok, so you've read the latest issue of "Fine Cooking," "Everyday Food," or "Cooking Light" and you've decided what style of cooking you want to perfect your skills in this time around. So get out the good table cloth, as my mother would say, and call up a few friends; then jump into your new genre for the year or season and cook up a batch of fun, food, and fellowship.
Reward your beta bunch with your best efforts and don't forget to include the resident poet, singer or comedian from down the hall or down the street to provide entertainment for the evening . . . and Voila! A new twist on the same hobby! Or - if cooking IS your new hobby this year, then stick with me kid; and hang on for the ride.
Try this recipe for a quick and delightful winter breakfast (or supper):
- 2 Cups self-rising flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 4 Tbsp. melted butter (or oil)
- 1 1/3 Cup milk
Blend the ingredients together in a medium size mixing bowl with a fork or wire whip until smooth. Do not over-mix; batter should be light and airy and a few small lumps are okay. Ladle batter onto oiled griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. Pancake is ready to turn when air bubbles form and begin to pop, usually about 45-60 seconds.
Top with butter, syrup, and/or fruit and serve with sausage or bacon for an even heartier meal. Enjoy!
J.E. (Judy) Cook is a successful Ghostwriter and author of "Dear Madde," to be published in 2013. "Dear Madde" is the dramatic story of life, love and loss where Gwendolyn discovers her true identity when she finds a box of letters among her deceased mother's belongings.