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A Note from Marcy March 2006 Passion - Gettin' Some

We’re Havana A Heat Wave 
March 2006 Issue

Complete Recipe Collection is Below....
Welcome to Wheatland, Del Tropical! ****

(*** AOL subscribers please read below)

The snow is still on the ground and the summer breeze is still a rumor but if you look to warmer climes, you can hear the sugar cane calling you to the kitchen. Color the baker’s palate with dulce de leche, citrus, coconut, mango, bananas and yes, some seasonal nods to St. Pats, Purim and Pancake Tuesday. There are more hamantashen ideas, pancakes, and even Packzti in the Recipe Archives.  March Madness indeed! This a very special, packed issue of treats that is a baking rendition of Club Med. If you didn’t get to escape to warmer climes this winter or are simply craving sunshine in any form, these recipes should be the tonic. At the very least, where else are you going to find tropical Mango Strawberry Hamantashen, alongside the baby-sized and beautiful little Irish Soda Breads, all keeping company with such delights such as White Chocolate Coconut Cake and darkly delicious, Aztec Chocolate Cupcakes? We call this issue Havana Heat Wave for its decidedly Latin lilt, but the flavors are taken from parts far east and south, wherever there is heat and no snow.

 Attention AOL subscriber/visitors of BB. You should be aware that AOL seems to be preventing or otherwise waylaying issues of BetterBaking.com from getting through to your mailbox. We have looked into this on our end since last December and technically, all is well. However, if you are still not getting BB newsletters since December ’05, we urge you to contact AOL and mention it.
You can always check BB Online where you will find each new monthly issue. If there are bonus recipes, they will appear, as always, on the Note From Marcy page. We have been in touch with AOL ourselves but regret that things still seem snagged.

 

We are also in the midst of constructing the new way of purchasing my recipes as well as accessing the entire monthly essay. Hopefully, by April, you will have three options. They include:

 

Pay by Monthly Issue

You can purchase monthly issue of BB via Paypal.  The only caveat is that after that month has expired, a few specific recipes that might make the cut to a print cookbook or Ecookbook . If you miss an issue and still want recipes from that issue, they are available (unless they have graduated to a cookbook) in the Pay by Recipe option.

 

Pay By Recipe
The third option for recipes is the purchase a recipe system. Again, this will be by Paypal. With this option, you can purchase a recipe at a time, just as you do Itunes.

 

$39.99 Old System, Recipe Archives Until September 30 2006

For a short window of time, you can still have all the recipes from the archives, as well as new recipes, until September 30 2006 for $39.99. But that system, at least on that basis, will be phased out after that date.

 

There are currently close to 2000 original recipes in the Complete Recipe Archives and recipes are always being added. Down the road, we hope to also create an alphabetical index so you can also see and search recipes in that format.

 

All of this is in the midst of construction and there are still details to consider as we embark on this new era of BB. Thank you again for your patience as this is being sussed out.

 

For your reading pleasure, there is the Passion Play in A Note From Marcy essay that follows. In the meanwhile, I wish you a mellow March and wonderfully satisfying, sunny baking; something to do while watching winter melt away.



Marcy Goldman

Writer and Baker

Host/Editor

www.BetterBaking.com
Est. 1997


In Like a Lion and Out Like a Lamb, The Passion Play of March

"Passion Lives Here"
Turino Olympics 2006

March is an iffy month. It’s the whimpering end of winter but certainly not-yet spring.  Neither winter wonderland walks or skating in the park interest me; it is too late for Melton jackets and too early for cream trench coats. Magazines are touting asparagus and strawberries but around here it is the beginning of maple season and all that provokes in me is more cabin fever. Love maple, loath the slush. In the BB Test Kitchen, I do a Purim & St. Pat’s fox trot, alternating between soda breads and hamantashen. In the end, however, as evidenced by this heated issue of BB, I go south seeking the flavor I crave as much as sailors miss citrus. In short, March, for me, is Nowhere Land. All this considered, it’s the least likely occasion to share thoughts on passion but maybe the most appropriate.

I have been toying with the idea to write on passion for quite awhile.  My intention usually follows a feeling  or impulse about this or that births a wellspring of energy. It often comes to me via a humdrum Tuesday afternoon, while sitting at a café, having the best coffee of the week, hearing a favorite song.  Suddenly, I find myself captive in a moment, best described as an out-of-body-state of bliss that lasts 3 minutes. Alas, inevitably, just days before my essay deadline that fervor, much like my third, used Volvo putters to an unexpected stop. Barely a week later and I am in some sort of doldrums for No Apparent Reason. And that passion thing?  Nada in spades. Not only has it fled but I can barely remember what buoyed me up to begin with. Whatever made me think I could pen passion when I cannot even recall it, let alone feel that succinctly? 

Sometimes I think moods are like the Maine weather.  What do they say? If you don’t like a weather in Maine, wait an hour or so. It will pass and there will be new weather on the way. If anything, moods are more inevitable than the weather and just as mercurial. Despite or because of the ups and downs of moods,  I am often asked to speak on 'finding one's passion' or about living with passion. I find this it odd because I spend my days in much solitude, as writers do, and when I bake, I am notably quiet, happily so, but quiet.
And yet, I often am asked where I get my energy or have I always had passion? The answer to the latter part of that question is no. Being a poster child for passion is relatively new or if I had passion before, I didn’t advertise. I presumed everyone felt the same way about whatever it is that makes him or her feel equally up. Often times, in the midst of doing whatever it is that I do, I feel awe, or bliss, or energized, or better yet, totally engaged with who, where and what I am. Apparently, it is noticeable and that's when I get asked about the passion thing. The goal of course, would be to make that great feeling/place my default state! It is in those moments that cauterize a racing mind and constant state of striving that I know the answer to that eternal question, ‘Do we ever arrive?” Yes, we do.

As a chef, I see Passion is very much like a meal. You begin with the appetizer, which is Appetite itself. Said appetite can feeling dull and need a rejuvenating palate teaser that can be something either fresh or familiar but long overdo. After the appetizer is the whet. This is small but strategically tidbit designed to accent the potential already stirring on the psychic palate. The whet is followed by Inspiration. Inspiration is the entrée – the meaty main event. It is what nourishes you without you knowing you were even hungry for it. Inspiration is like an old friend that returns that you forgot was gone and didn’t remember to miss. But without inspiration, all else is dry breadsticks. 

Inspiration is the most vital component of this special meal. It comes from without or within and bounces back and forth between the psychic landscape. You see, hear, inhale, feel something (a random act of kindness,  a sunset, a Miles Davis solo, the first lilacs of spring) and you are transported. You move to a higher version of yourself.  Like the kids’ book, ‘ If You Give a Mouse a Cookie’, good thought gives birth to more of the same. Shifted to a place of possibility - simply by being present for that one precise moment, your spirit leaps in and everything seems clear. With clarity, come creative ideas, a flood of solutions, and a surge of purpose and meaning. It is merely remembering our source selves, i.e. who we are and what we love. When we find it – however briefly, it is enough to make us reach again for the things that sustain us. That ensures that moment of being present is not a blip in time but in fact, the whole tenor of your life.
 
Dessert of course, would be the Passion afterglow itself – passion fruit of another tree but sweetly ambrosial.

People often talk about wanting to feel passion or be passionate. You cannot just choose passion like pressing the right vending machine button. It comes after you commit. Whenever I hear that phrase, 'you have to follow your passion', I wince. You don't go following nuttin'.  Passion is a drumbeat that starts inside. You choose to do something or risk trying something, fully engage along the way and if you chose instinctively, passion follows you.

And then there are those changes in the weather. Certainly, it’s possible, like a picky palate on a March day, you might not know or remember what your passion is. If you don't know what it is, you must figure it out. It doesn't come to you and speculation is a poor man's game. Passion is a participatory sport and big on body & soul contact. If you are lucky enough to know what you love, never let it go nor leave it untended for too long. Passion, like a sourdough starter you forget to feed, only needs oxygen, warmth and hydration and then rewards you tenfold. 

Other times, passion fades simply because a plethora of the minutia of real life can fog it up. In those cases, much like courting an jaded or indifferent appetite back to life, you have to try everything or anything, however unenthusiastic you feel because you don't know what will be the wave that you can surf on. In that peckish state, we forget what we need. This sounds absurd but when you are starved for inner vitamins, or suffering from scurvy of the soul, you will swear you are not even hungry. You might resist being fed by any suggestion because as appetite flees, so does your sense of taste. This is all the more reason to find what it is that fuels you. Sometimes you have to nibble on something/anything, without being in the mood at all, in order to wake up inside. This is a task for none but the brave or the very desperate. Once you engage, it is like being drawn back to what makes you tick. Choose with the head and the heart steps up to the plate.

If you think about it, finding and maintaining passion is really just as natural as breathing in and breathing out. You inhale what you need; you exhale that feeling which should be the drug of choice for the human condition.

I don’t know many people who have a passion for something without also having a parallel passion for life. Having that fire that so attracts and ignites us and draws others to us (we feel passion; they see charisma, passion's runoff) is a choice to fall in love with life. Having a crush on life takes some effort, at least in passion's off season. But it is about renewing your vows to yourself, opting to stay connected and open, even when you are in a cooler place like the Ides of March. 

Like anyone else, I also need to heed this advice, especially on those days where the passion dims, the soufflé falls, and moods swim by, as ephemeral as mist on an April morning. Few of us live in a state of sustained passion 24/7;  even the hardiest of passion flowers hibernate. Happily, like sunny recipes that shine in a winter kitchen, there is always a tonic. All I have to do is remember that the spring wheat already stirring under the ground. All I have to remember while I am salting the driveway to melt last week’s ice storm, are the salmon battling their way upstream, buoyed by an incredible life force. It is the same visceral yearning that brings the Canadian geese flying north just around now, in their flight path over the roof of my house, breaking the skies with their sounds and formation. Before I know it, those crocuses I planted in good faith last year, will peak their purple petals out of seemingly frozen ground. I figure, if wheat, fish, birds and flowers can do it, again and again, for springs eternal........so can I.

Marcy Goldman
Writer and Baker
www.BetterBaking.com

March 2006 Recipe Collection
Tropicana Biscotti !!! FREE!!!
Island sunshine in every bite. Tropical inspired biscotti with a unique
Florida orange 'n rum glaze.


This is not a cake; it is a symphony. White chocolate golden cake, fused with Madagascar vanilla and touches of lime.

Devil's Food Cake Cupcakes
Cupcakes of the gods. A dark, deeply chocolate cupcake that whips up in minutes and bakes into the Best Chocolate Cupcake Ever. Dip them in melted chocolate or glaze to finish them off. Brush up on your math; you going to want to double the recipe immediately.


Down under, it’s still warm as toast. Good time to enjoy the Aussie Tiramisu of 2006 – a cake version of marvelous sticky toffee pudding. Btw, you don’t taste the dates in this recipe; they just provide the ‘goo’ and richness of this cake.

Cuban Bread
This is a great bread that is made for Cuban Sandwiches or anything else you can stack on it. Palm fronds or banana leaves optional.

Orange Almond Vanilla Alphahores Cookies Dipped in Chocolate
These are worth the price of many private tango lessons. Nothing beats this delicate almond orange shortbread sandwich with a dreamy caramel filling. A brief dip in melted Belgium milk chocolate is the final coup.

Pineapple Lei Over Tart
Filo, cream, and pineapple in a pastry tart that is sunny and sumptuous.

Trois Leches or Three Milk Cake
Hola! We want seconds on Three Milk Cake. This is a luscious, tender but quick and easy cake that whips up like a cobbler but tastes like cheesecake.

Twisted Banana Bread
Coffee, bananas, macadamia nuts all in one moist, homey loaf. Not your grandmother’s banana bread.


Remember lemon bars? Sweet, sour and tangy? This is the same old done to a new beat. Lime and orange combine to make these the sassiest squares this side of the equator.

Best Ever Key Lime Tart
Salsa over to Lime Lane. A sensational Key Lime Tart to wake you up before you go-go. Creamy, tangy, exotic.

Caramelized Pineapple Island Cake
A golden sour cream cake topped with a halo of caramelized pineapple chunks, set in a macadamia nut streusel. 

Some Seasonal Treats

Irish Soda Bread Scones
Don’t ye be feelin’ green when you can score someone the perfect gift of 
classic Irish Soda bread, done baby sized but oh-so-beguilin'.

Apple Pie Hamantashen
Make your own apple filling with the recipe here, or the quick-baker method of using canned apple pie filling. Why didn’t I think of these a million years ago?

Strawberry Mango Hamantashen
Hamantashen goes south. The filling is the hue of a Californian sunset and tastes absolutely heavenly. Tropical hamantashen is just what you need for Purim 2006. Queen Ester approved.

American Irish Cinnamon Soda Bread
A bit richer, sweeter and a kiss of cinnamon makes this special.

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
A new twist for Shrove Tuesday – flapjack cookies. These are almost the size of a small crepe with the taste of the most delectable, thing-as-Pringles sugar cookie you ever had. A dusting of maple sugar or colored sprinkles and you have a quick treat that stack high as flapjacks but disappear like silver dollars.

Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes
Don’t reserve these for Fat Tuesday! These are the most tender morsels you will ever sink your fork into. A great way to make use of the new maple syrup.

Maple Walnut 'n Brown Sugar Scones
Sweet, rustic, homey dessert biscuits in time for the maple run.

When Bakers Cook

Tortilla Soup
Chicken strips, cilantro, and crisp corn tortillas fried and crumbled on top. Is this good? Natcho-ly.

Empanadas
Pastry pockets filled with cumin seasoned ground beef.
There are tons of ways to make these Latin calzones but they are always great.

Salvadoran Onion and Pepper Salad
Talk about heat! This secret recipe for onion and Scotch bonnet pepper salad is for heat seekers. Addictive and different.

Vegetarian Smokey Black Bean Soup
This is one for your repertoire – smoky yet vegetarian, it’s got a flavor you will sop up in a flash with a hunk of Cuban Bread


Previous Monthly Essays from A Note From Marcy:

Essays to tickle your funny bone, wake up your inner baker, twinge on your heartstrings, or make you smile and say, ‘I’ve know the feeling; I know the place”. If you missed an essay, or a season in baking or inner sensibility, we invite you to stroll through our archived Notes From Marcy.

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