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A Note from Marcy

Welcome to the EggsTreme Breakfast Baking Issue of BetterBaking.Com

April 2006

Photo from The Best of Casual American Cooking: Diner

Text by Diane Rossen Worrthington. Photography by Allan Rosenberg. Copyright 1995 © Weldon Owen Inc.

Dear Fellow Bakers and Friends of BB,

This month's recipes run the gamut of gourmet delights for spring, to wonderful recipes for Easter and Passover. There is a free Primavera Quiche, famed Matzoh Buttercrunch and an incredible "Skinny Cookie'. Please visit www.BetterBaking.Com to see the full offerings.

It’s a brand new start; it’s a whole new day! It seems I barely leave your company, so to speak, and a month flies back and here we are again – all gathered in the BB kitchen, sharing a cup of coffee, more recipes and more chat.  So much happens in so little time or is that that I just feel brand new. What's happened? My cookbook manuscript is done! Finished! It has been a two-year (plus 15 year career) epic-cum-baking opus. I can’t believe I baked the whole thing!  (And 'done' means it has another year or so before it is on the shelves so we must be patient)

Twenty-two baking volunteer testers later, all capably directed by my test kitchen manager, Ellen Fuss, and hundreds of recipes all accounted for. I am delighted to share that A Passion for Baking is now in the next stage of its journey., i.e. miles of editing and design to go. If you want to know more just read So You Want to Write a Cookbook.

I thank you all too, for the spirit of my BetterBaking.com visitors, and readers of my print work over the years, infuse each page and every recipe of A Passion for Baking.  It is this incredible spirit, as well as that of my test kitchen volunteers that inspired me as I puddled through, eating, breathing, thinking nothing but cookbook for months and months.  Happily, all this is no longer a notion or a promise, it is a complete book. It is also the biggest, broadest, hunkiest baking book I have ever done, and I have (frankly) ever seen. If it was a mountain, A Passion for Baking would be Everest. It certainly took mountains of flour, butter and vanilla to create. Let me also publicly apologize here and now to all my testers for any collective weight gain, sugar addictions, and for sending so many of you out on a mission to find that elusive 8 by 11 inch brownie pan. (It does exist; it is worth finding; and yes, it makes better brownies!) .

The day after I submitted my cookbook manuscript, I woke up wondering not only who I was (writers get lost in acres of text; it is like a massive cornfield after awhile) but also what to do with the extra time on my hands. Of course, that is a myth – the notion of ‘time on my hands’. There are my sons first of all. Turns out I have three. For weeks, I vaguely wondered just who were these three people, habitually dressed in boxers and wafting far too much Axe deodorant, cursing hockey, watching the Olympics, and holding relentless taco fests. What I thought was the set of Animal House is actually my family. The boys’ consensus is that for this book is that I worked harder and quieter; whined less and produced more. My oasis in this surreal time was watching endless episodes of DVD Sex in the City. For some reason, this was my way to turn off and relax, obliterating thoughts of Rocky Road Biscotti and the lost Pizza Chapter. Actually I only lost it for 27 hours, it popped back in my system on its own; I expect it wandered in cyberspace, saw there were no better food writers to be with and returned home, head lowered; hat in hand.

In doing the manuscript I learned you can never have too many back-ups. I now own something almost as precious as my favorite rolling pin: a 512 MB memory key. Thank you Dell. Seriously, when you are working on something this big, you make back-ups hourly.

As for my strange TV fest of Sex in the City, it was a harmless, mindless tonic. I concluded that Big turned out OK in the end but I wouldn’t date him. I think I have dated all the "Bigs' I want to. Mostly, I thank Sex in the City for changing my entire wardrobe. No one recognizes me. I started mixing and matching colorful clothes the way I play with recipes. I am wearing tulle Burberry crinolines over my jeans with leopard heels  (and at the gym, yet) and sporting tiny, little, handbags that carry fit nothing more than that 512 mb memory stick. I am also lunching at a local coffee shop with three great new friends. We just eat, dish the dirt and share deep feelings in a pithy, witty way. We are banter babes. Actually, I don’t even know who these three other women are but I appended myself to three fashionista strangers lately just to do the SITC experience. I  have concluded (somewhere between Episode 5, First Volume of the 5th Season and the Biscotti Chapter) that I probably am essentially Carrie minus the Blahniks, secretly wishing I were a ‘Charlotte’ and hiding my inner, Miranda edginess.

This all aside, one Sunday in March, I suddenly came out of my home office and announced to my trio of sons, “You know what? I just finished the book. All nine hundred pages”.  The boys just stared in amazement.  I too, was amazed. It was like I went past my own finish line.  I don’t think any of us thought I would actually get there for “The Book’ has been our life for so long.

Beyond family life, there is BetterBaking.com as always, other cookbooks, a novel, two plays, and a nonfiction book that is begging to be worked on. But Passover and April’s issue of BB notwithstanding, I am trying to relax and regenerate, for it is both personally and seasonally correct.  I am back in tango and tango is having its way with me. It is, for 6 week sabbatical, as sublime as ever. Tango Partner # 13 is showing special promise; I only stepped on his feet once and barely with the stiletto part of the shoe - no crime a batch of cookies won't fix.

Months of hibernation due to deadline make me feel like a newcomer in a new land. With some wonder, I have discovered there is a whole world – my world - which I have missed for many months, being so embroiled in baking and writing. I am surprised to see winter has passed and there is grass, sunshine and birds out there. Beyond sons and tango, there are my friends, books, and a whole new line of perfume I haven’t even begun to inhale. I also discovered that while I thought I was weary, day-by-day, hour-by-hour, spring and pride in accomplishment are having their way.   I don’t feel weary at all. I feel that 'good-tired' and even that state is making way for a second wind.

This is exactly what I like about spring, spring holidays, morning and breakfast. No matter how bad a winter, how long a difficult night of restless dreams, what happened the day before – by sunrise, certainly by breakfast, you get a whole new do-over. What is a do-over? It is like that scene in City Slickers when the Billy Crystal character tells his friend, who is in the depth of a mid-life crisis, “You can take a do-over –like when we were kids’. A do-over is another chance and sunrise, particularly an April one, is prime do-over time.

It always used to amaze me, when my boys were little and had a bad night (asthma, earaches, fevers, strep), which in turn meant I had a bad night, to wake up and see the sunrise and realize, we had made it through; all was well. After dark comes light. Morning time is where and how we all discover a cache of energy, attitude and retap into a resilience that was under wraps. By breakfast, it’s always a brand new day and what a difference a day makes! Just that sound of eggs being whipped in a bowl and that hiss of coffee as it chugs it way through the drip lifts anyone’s spirits. You hear those sounds and inhale those scents and your inner self is reset to potential.

So no matter how tired I was barely a week ago, vowing I would never bake or write again, (alright, that only lasted one hour) here I am, back with you all, as always, up for a whole new issue of baking. This is what I love about what I love. Like spring, it is self-regenerating.

While I was ‘away’, I lived in a place of rare diligence. I found stores of resolve I hadn’t known I had. But I was also on autopilot. How nice to finish something so big and then wake up to April (although my relief is so great I daresay waking up to a bleary November would have also worked). On that note, and with reflections of the themes of Passover, Easter and all that stuff factored in, I offer recipes that suit the mood and the season. I also share with you one of my favorite poems by Sanskrit poet Rumi. This poem sums up so much and better than I ever could. It says much about our winter mood and how we hibernate our awareness of our spirits, our lives and ourselves. There is a brand new do-over at hand if you wake up and see it. Like the poem says, ‘don’t go back to sleep!’

Happy baking, and wishing you the sweetest of springs.

Marcy Goldman
Host
Baker and Writer
www.BetterBaking.Com

P.S.
Our Pay-by-recipe option should be installed by the end of April. We will keep April recipes all on until that option is installed. Recipes will be $1.99 per, and the complete monthly issue of BB will be $4.99. Most issues have at least a dozen recipes (this one has more than double I think!). Now, and until September 30, however, you can still sign on the old $39.99 flat rate, all-the-recipes format.

A Rumi  Poem*

Jelaluddin Rumi, the 13th century mystic poet, was truly one of the most passionate and profound poets in history.  Now, today his presence still remains strong, due in part to how his words seem to drip of the divine, and startle a profound remembrance that links all back to the Soul-Essence.  Born in what is present day Afghanistan in 1207, he produced his masterwork the Masnawi that consists of over 60,000 poems before he died in 1273. 

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let's buy it.

Daylight, full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you, without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?

All day and night, music,
a quiet, bright reedsong.
If it fades, we fade


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, Ive 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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