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The whole idea of (insert name of baked good(s) here) made with disdain and discontent started with my mother one Christmas holiday.

She was doing what she usually does during the holiday, i.e., baking up a storm, and that day's mission was cut-out sugar cookies with icing. Back in the good ol' days, all of us (minus my dad, because he's the Grinch) would "help" with mixing the dough, cutting out the cookies and slathering on the icing, but now that we're all older, we aren't very interested in making the cookies. I think this sort of bummed my mom out. I mean, sure, she was always saying how we were underfoot the whole time, and that we made things more of a hassle, but I think this was just one more piece of evidence that her kids were growing up, so she was sort of in a sour mood. Another factor that definitely did not help Mom's Christmas cookie spirits was the simple fact that she had had to work overtime that morning, which never causes my mom to be in a happy mood.

So, to set the scene, Mom's in a grumpy mood out in the kitchen while making cookies, and Dad, my brothers, my sister and I are sitting in the living room (which happens to open onto the kitchen), doing various things, such as watching TV or surfing the internet on our computers. The older of my two brothers, being the big dope that he is, notices that my mom doesn't look too happy, and decides to poke the proverbial bear.

"Hey Mom, cheer up. Christmas cookies are supposed to be made with love."

To which my mother replies with this now famous family phrase:

"These cookies are made with disdain and discontent, and you will eat them and feel the lack of joy, damnit!"

Mom wasn't really upset about being the only one making cookies and I'm sure they were baked with the normal amount of love (and strangeness) we've come to expect from her baked goods, but the phrase has stuck around nonetheless.

I never really thought about the idea of baking with disdain and discontent until today, after I baked a pie because I was angry about how my day went, but it seems to describe my typical mood while baking, which is sort of alarming. It's not that I hate baking, I love to bake. It's nice to be able to take some random ingredients (well, not random random, because that could be disastrous) and make something out of them. I particularly enjoy it when I see people eating what I've made and really liking it, but if you were to take the whole "good food is made with love" adage to heart, I suspect more people would be spitting my food out because of the not-happy feelings that permeate it.

For me, baking is somehow a way to meditate, I guess would be the word for it, and the majority of the times that I need the calm that accompanies a baking stint are when I'm mad or can't quiet my brain. I have a really hard time getting my mind to shut the hell up sometimes (at work it's especially maddening, because I'm stuck alone with my thoughts for a solid eight hours), and concentrating on the creation of baked goods seems to be the mute button I so desperately require. I didn't even realize that was why I loved to bake so much until one day, during an apple pie marathon, when it hit me: my brain wasn't running its usual depressing and shrewish commentary about the current state of my life, and quite frankly, it was, and remains to this day, an awesome discovery. (Even if it means I make disdain and discontent baked goods).

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