After weeks and weeks of not being able to fathom the effort of baking or cooking (despite loving to do it), I was visited with the urge to make shortbread at 4 in the morning....one thing about IronMam's LifeHacks for Depressed People post that stuck out to me was the ETA Hint 6:

If at any point during your depression you discover that there is something you ACTUALLY want to do that is not:

a) cripplingly expensive

b) involving mind-altering substances

c) harmful to recovery

JUST GO DO IT. Wanting to do things is so fucking rare during depression, it's not even funny. Want to on-demand that film? DO IT. Want to try on hats? DO IT. Want to eat frosting from a jar? GO TO TOWN. Your mental illness and all the shit you have to do will keep.

so I took that advice and I damn well made shortbread. My roommate wasn't home, so there was no need to try to keep quiet, and I already had all the ingredients.

I used Jamie Oliver's Best Shortbread in the World recipe. And man is it delicious. It's buttery and crumbly and crunchy but soft and holy hell, I have to be careful not to eat the whole thing by myself.

And, while it was baking, I decided to make fancy mac n' cheese because I was already in the kitchen and already making things and why the hell not? I didn't use a recipe, but here's what I did. Cooked bacon in a pan until crispy, removed and drained then chopped into small pieces. Caramelized a small onion in the bacon grease (shoulda used at least two because these onions were really small), then threw in some sliced mushrooms. Salt and peppa, a splash of white wine (to deglaze the pan - shoulda done this before the mushrooms). Once the mushrooms were done, I put it into a bowl, rinsed the saucepan, and made bechamel (equal parts butter + flour, whisked over heat until brown), splashed in milk and cooked until thickened. Grated sharp white cheddar and gruyere and parmesan, which I added in small handfuls until all melted and gooey and wonderful. Teeny bit of salt, lots of pepper, to taste. Yum. Mixed in the mushrooms. I dumped in all the juice from the mushrooms - it made the sauce a lot runnier than I wanted but added so much mushroom flavor, like french onion soup but in mac and cheese form. Next time, I'll just make the bechamel slightly thicker than usual, so the mushroom juice helps counter that. Then I tossed in semi-cooked rotini noodles and added it to a baking dish, topped with more grated gruyere and the bacon crumbles, then baked until bubbly. THEN broiled so the cheese and bacon would get crispybrown.

It's really good, y'all. Like, really good.

Meanwhile, because it's not like I have enough food already, I threw a pork loin roast into the slow cooker with a rub of fresh sage, salt+pepper, minced fresh garlic and some water. Cooked on high for ~4 hours. When it was finished, I made a balsamic brown sugar sauce (balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce mixed together and reduced until syrupy) to drizzle over the shredded pork.

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The best part is that it is so refreshing to feel something about food again. To eat something because I want to eat it, instead of halfheartedly picking at something because I should.

I had a bit of a tough weekend, but I have my first appointment with a therapist (ever) in a mere 8 hours! When I made the appointment, I thought I'd never get there - like swimming toward a boat against the current, it felt so far away. This burst of cooking, which almost felt like the old non-depressed Paper again, was a little like a life raft pulling me partway there.