Sometimes the world seems a little crazy. In fact, sometimes the world seems outright bat-shit bury your head under your pillow insane. And how do we cope?
How do we cope when the people who are meant to be leading us are setting up measures to hide human rights abuse? How do we cope when we are being constantly manipulated to care about things that really don't matter, while the things that do go on and on? How do we cope when our earth is being destroyed so that a privileged few don't ever have to take a step down?
Sometimes it seems too much. How easy it would be not to care. But we live on this planet. And we share it with billions of other people. So not to care is not an option. We have to care, or what is the point?
When our government is so busy making sure we will not become a country celebrated for its renewable energy system, so busy making sure we understand that the only thing to be scared of on this earth is terrorists and how much the government is doing to protect us and our families from the terrorists, so busy locking our country down because how dare people try to sneak in illegally, we live here, not them. So busy pursuing goals that seem so out of touch with what we in the western world could, and should, achieve that it would be absurd if it weren't so horrifying. When the people who lead us are following this path, how can we care about what is really important? We are being distracted and manipulated and pushed to pursue the wrong ideals, the wrong goals. Is it really our fault?
Does it matter?
We who live these easy lives, who don't really have to struggle or want for anything, who maybe can't all afford a new TV or an expensive car but who live very comfortably indeed, we have a responsibility to the rest of the world. We thriving in the 'first world' may not be responsible for all the problems the planet is now suffering from (although I don't think I am wrong in saying that we must take the blame for the majority) but that doesn't matter anymore. We don't have to struggle to find water or food, we don't have to constantly worry about our safety or where we are going to sleep. We are the ones who need to re-evaluate our lifestyles, because we have the comfort and security in which to do so. And there is a lot of re-evaluation to be done.
When we drive around in enormous cars, with bumper stickers proclaiming 'global warming = warmer waters = more fishing spots = bring it on'... There is a lot of re-evaluation to be done.
How is it that we have come to a state of being where we allow massive multi-national companies to make the rules. Where our food is made out of nobody-knows-what and we are literally killing ourselves as a species. Where we are scared of what is not our immediate environment, or we are not thinking of anybody else at all. Where oceans or the concept of borders somehow remove our empathy for other members of our species. Where we think it is wise to cut down ancient trees to burn so we can keep our water hot and our lights on, when there are so many simple, sustainable solutions available- and we have the money to implement them.
Segregation, fear and greed. How have these become the traits that define so much of what we do?
Sometimes it seems too much. Though there are people who are fighting all of this, who don't agree with the way we are living and who are consciously trying to change it. There are a lot of those people and we all need to talk with them, work with them and learn from them. And we need to not give up on it all every time we turn around and hear the news of another environmental disaster, another animal pushed to extinction, another bout of fear-mongering or hate or stupidity on the world stage.
So sometimes, when I can no longer cope, when I feel like my head is going to explode or I want to crawl into a rabbit hole and hang out with the worms who just spend their lives chilling under the ground, doing amazing things, I gather my flour, eggs and sugar and I make something delicious.
I eat a lot of treats.
Yesterday I made something a little less indulgent (probably because I also spent a large portion of the day making something INCREDIBLY indulgent). Something with rye flour, various seeds and a funny name. Baking + hilarious words = a relaxed and happy me.
Let's all make knackerbrod! This bread is Swedish, it has the best name ever and each piece has a doughnut hole so you can make bread bunting when you are finished cooking. AND it is pretty healthy, so eating a whole wheel of brie by yourself is no longer such a bad thing.
Don't stop caring. Come out of your rabbit hole, recharge your spirit, and make knackerbrod. Then we can all sit down over a wheel of brie and discuss this government of ours.
Knackerbrod- from my favourite new cookbook The New Nordic by Simon Bajada
20g fresh yeast (or equivalent dried)
2 1/2 tbsp treacle/golden syrup
270ml cold water
400g plain flour
120g good rye flour
1 tsp dried dill (optional)
1 tsp salt
Crumble or mix the yeast in a large bowl with the syrup and water (make sure the syrup is runny ,otherwise it is verrrrry hard to incorporate it fully). Add the remaining ingredients- apart from the seeds- and combine into a dough. Knead for a few minutes until you have a nice looking dough. Cover with a tea towel and sit at room temperature- or somewhere slightly warmer if room temperature in your house means you breathe steam- for forty minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200c. Divide the dough into six even chunks- but I think I had maybe 9 or 10, it just depends how big you want your finished breads to be- and form them into smooth balls.
Dust your work surface with a little flour and roll out each ball as thinly as possible without tearing the dough- if you are making six they should all be at least 20cm in diameter.
Sprinkle your chosen seeds (my favourite was caraway... because I love caraway) and give them a quick roll so they embed themselves into the dough. Use the back of a fork to make little indentations in the dough- this is to texture the dough (traditionally this is done with a specifically designed notched rolling pin, but I think I am right in assuming not many people would have one of those lying around).
Use a small (5cm) cookie cutter or other suitable implement to cut a whole in the middle of each bread, which helps with even cooking.
Place your breads on trays and cook for about 5 minutes each- when the thinner areas are cooked to a golden brown colour they are ready.
String them up outside to cool, and sit nearby with a cup of tea so you can admire your wholesome, satisfying Swedish bread bunting.
(When you have finished admiring/your breads are cool you can serve them with anything really, but apparently pickled herring, sliced boiled egg, fish roe and cucumber are very happy accompaniments. I think I will be buying some smoked salmon very soon. Or simply butter and good cheese.)