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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Crisis Consumption are two little ideas. I really liked Celeste's idea of a checklist that a husband or other family member could hand to the person who wants to help. Church calls and wants to send over food? Well, here's a list of what they actually like to eat. Don't feel like spending the money on a meal from a restaurant? That's fine--here are some tasks without financial components, like doing a round of food shopping or walking the dogs or picking up the dry cleaning.

But here's the thing: when I'm really upset, I can't think clearly to know what I want or what is helpful. That's something I should do now--an insurance plan of sorts. I'm making a list of what I like to eat--both homemade or ordered from a restaurant. I'm making a list of helpful tasks (I'm like electriclady--I hate having anyone in my kitchen so it would never be helpful to offer to do our dishes). Someone else also mentioned that it's hard to tell someone what you'd want ordered even if they asked because you never know how much they wanted to spend. Soooooo...

My proposal is that everyone who is currently not in crisis creates a help plan that would serve the same purpose as a gift registry. It lets people know what you want and it lets them scan the choices and see which one they can do. I can create a form that you could fill out in Word and send back. I would then post each individual list in the Annex with your name as the heading. I would then place a link to your personal list on this blog in the help registry (I feel another date with Microsoft Paint coming on--icon-creating night!). It wouldn't have a link to your blog--just whatever name you choose to use--so no one would know about your blog if you didn't want them to know about it (for instance, on the help registry, my name will be listed as Melissa with a link to the Melissa's list that is posted in the Annex. If there is more than one Melissa, we will become Melissa 1 or Melissa 2, etc). Does that make sense?

Then, if someone wanted to help, a friend could organize a help drive by sending out a mass email to friends and family letting them know about the list. You get the help you want--they get to feel good because they gave you the help you want. It's win-win.

So let me know if you'd like to put up a list and I will send you the help registry page (leave a comment or email me at You could actually write anything you want in any form, but I thought a worksheet could help people organize their thoughts. Whenever you finish filling it out, send it back and I'll post it with a link in the help registry. And then either you or your friend or your husband could send out the link to the help registry whenever people offer to help.

No more gifts of Angolese peanut stew!

The other idea I love is Allie's recipe list for cooking in crisis. I do have a bread recipe I can throw out there that fulfills the universal love of carbs and chocolate. It is a chocolate cherry bread and it is a recipe I adjusted from an old Good Housekeeping recipe.

Cherry Chocolate Bread

1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (may need more or less depending on humidity)
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup of brewed coffee, cooled until warm (110 degrees F)
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg, separated
3/4 cup dried tart cherries
3 squares (3 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. In a glass measuring cup, combine warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar; stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in large Kitchenaid mixing bowl, combine 4 cups flour, cocoa, brown sugar, and salt.
3. Pour warm coffee, butter, egg yolk (cover egg white and set aside in refrigerator), and yeast mixture into flour mixture. Using the bread hook, knead the dough until it mixes together. It may look very wet, but do not add more flour until you've added the final ingredients.
4. Add cherries and chocolate. Knead until combined and then turn off machine.
5. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (add more flour if necessary).
6. Shape dough into ball; place in greased (with oil) large bowl, turning dough to grease top. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place (80 to 85 degrees F) until doubled in volume, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
7. Punch down dough.Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and cut in half.
8. Shape each dough half into 5-inch ball. Using the sides of your hands, tuck sides of dough under to meet in center. Rotate and repeat to form taut ball. Place balls, 3-inches apart, in opposite corners of ungreased large cookie sheet. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
9. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
10. In cup, beat reserved egg white with a few drops of water; use to brush tops of loaves. Sprinkle loaves with remaining 2 teaspoons granulated sugar. With serrated knife or single-edge razor blade, cut shallow X in top of each loaf.
10. Bake until loaves are crusty, about 20 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

So. Fucking. Good. I'm eating it right now. It freezes well (simply reheat in the oven). And since the recipe makes two loaves, you can keep one and give the other away. I started making this bread recently due to my lady-when-waiting, Julie, who began the brilliant tradition of mailing bread from Zingerman's whenever there is a crisis at hand.

So what is your best recipe you can pass along for anyone who is currently cooking in crisis? No recipe will be considered too bizarre--cooking in crisis tends to bring out the saltines and chocolate chips (thanks for the idea, Susan!).
I made the first entry. So when you click on Melissa, it will take you to my registry page. And there will be a main list where people can find your name and click on it and it will take them to your page. I'm waiting for Josh to get home so he can check out the three icons I created on Microsoft Paint--yahoo!


Anonymous said...

ooh, send me the list. I'd LOVE that. I'm convinced that the reason nobody helped me during my depression was that nobody knew how bad it was or what I needed help with. A registry would really help!

And my favourite recipe for immediate help would probably be my chocolate chip cookies. Those or my lentil soup. Neither has ever been refused or disliked.

Anonymous said...

Top idea. I was thinking recently, it's not that grief gets easier, exactly, but you do get more organised about it. It's good to think about how you might want people to help you in a crisis.


Anonymous said...

It's a brilliant idea. I'm just sorry I live in Britain, approximately a bazillion years away from most of the rest of you. I'd love to be in a position to send y'all cookies at need.

TeamWinks said...

Sometimes I wish that I knew some of my blogging buddies in the real world. Then it would be easy to bake something special, and pop it in the mail. However, addresses. I never want to ask for a blog friend's address. Just in case it makes them uncomfortable.

Regardless, I have a recipe I can get together this week. I'll email it to you. I wouldn't mind the list too.

Tina / Anxious Changer said...

Definitely send me the list! It is a top notch idea - one that I could have used back in December!

I will look through my recipes and see which one would be a good crisis food and e-mail it to you!

Anonymous said...

I have just made this bread.

So. Fucking. Good. is an understatement. It was incredible. I would have made French toast with it, but we ate it all. Both loaves.

Thanks for the recipe!