Jessica Dorfman Jones’ novel, Klonopin Lunch, takes readers through her journey of self-discovery and unleashing her inner bad girl. We asked her a few questions (we couldn’t help it if they were mostly food-related) about stress baking, recipes and her fascinating journey.
TRC: In your recently released memoir Klonopin Lunch, you often discuss your tendency to “stress-bake” when you have a lot on your plate. When and how did this habit start for you?
JDJ: When I was getting out of college and was first married, it was the era of Martha Stewart. Everyone wanted to be a domestic goddess and I don’t think I knew a single soul who didn’t have at least one of her books. I had also always been interested in baking and cooking, less for the domestic goddess affirmation and more for the opportunity to eat exactly what I wanted to and when I chose. So I’d say that the baking started almost directly out school in 1991. I always found myself having an easier time baking than cooking, and the repetitive motions required in baking (stirring, measuring, etc.) Were just the thing to allow me to let my mind go blank and let my hands do all the work. Getting my mind to go blank is no mean feat, so once I realized what was going on baking became an integral part of my life. I guess I baked the same way others knit, do needlepoint, or any other handicrafts hobby.
TRC: How is baking different than other kinds of cooking for you? Is this important in how you work through difficult times?
Cooking has no down time. The great thing about baking is that, for the most part, you can take your time to get the job done. If you’re baking bread, the dough has to rise on its own and then bake for a while without being attended to. It’s a calm process. Cooking, on the other hand, is all about speed, watching what’s going on very carefully, an open flame….all sorts of things that can go wrong if you take your eyes off what you’re doing for even a moment. I love to cook, but it’s not a stress reliever.
TRC: Do you have a favorite recipe that you like to use when relieving stress?
JDJ: I used to bake a lot of bread. All kinds. I went through a foccaccia stage, a pullman loaf stage, a baguette stage…you name it. I also made tons of quick breads and cookies. Quick was the operative term because I wanted to start eating what was coming out of the oven as fast as possible! These days I’m a bit of a plain old chocolate chip cookie kind of girl. Crispy, never chewy.
TRC: Many people identify as stress eaters. How do you strike a balance between baking away your troubles and eating a healthy amount of treats?
JDJ: There wasn’t a lot of balance at the beginning of my baking and cooking career, which is now in excess of twenty years. In Klonopin Lunch, I mention that at one point I was having a bad day and chose to make cookies. For dinner. Not a healthy choice. But over time I finally made the amazing connection that the more cookies, cake and bread I ate, the fatter and unhealthier I became. So the baking continued but I learned to share the fruits of my labors. Pawning the goods off on others worked out well for me and for my friends and family.
TRC: Klonopin Lunch is ultimately your memoir about your good girl self gone temporarily very bad. How did you reconcile your apron wearing with some of your grittier activities?
JDJ: There was no reconciliation. During my “bad girl’ years, I was barely eating at all so food preparation was not part of my lifestyle. I was in an apron or in leather pants and never did the two mix. After my “bad girl” non-eating crisis was over, my relationship to food and to who I was had changed so dramatically, I was able to blend those two parts of my personality. Now I’ll wear an apron over pinstripe trousers and heels, go-go boots and a mini skirt, jeans, or maybe nothing at all.
Klonopin Lunch by Jessica Dorfman Jones – Excerpt