Dear Bakers and Friends,
Good morning and welcome to April 2020 issue of Betterbaking.com. I wish I could say happy April Fool’s Day because that would mean all this ‘stuff in the air’ would be either a joke or collective bad dream. But when everyone is having the same yucky dream you know it’s not a joke. This is a difficult time for all of us and I know for some it is more difficult than others. In the meanwhile, reach out as much as you can and bless a world that has the Internet, especially Skype and creative apps to keep you connected while we cozy in or WFH, aka Work From Home.
Work-from-home is something I’ve done since 1981 when I began as a food writer. Those were wonderfully creative, albeit sometimes lonely days. I was finding my way as a self-employed wholesaling baker and feature food writer. Everywhere I looked, my peers were on a different route becoming teachers, accountants, lawyers and nurses and becoming part of traditional 9-5 work life. There was no road map for someone like me who liked to bake and write and whose formal job history included more than a couple of lay-offs and mis-fit positions. It took a few years and three years of hotel school, becoming a pastry chef and professional baker to finally settle in. Eventually as I found my pace and path as a food and cookbook author, then as a working mother and then as a solo parent. Time and tenacity smooths a lot but I also drilled deeper and took authority of my life/career as a solo practitioner.
As we shelter from home and socially distance ourselves, I remember I’m long accustomed to shopping when the stores are quiet and everyone else is ‘at work’. In the prime of my twenty-something years when everyone seemed up and on their way I made friends with quiet streets and vacant parks. I structured my days with work deadlines and domestica. In the 90’s, I observed my land line telephone and fax machine grow still as email (which makes no sound) and then texting, took over. The world of freelancers got ever more outwardly silent but a sub-terrarium bustle increased as work continued and just became more compressed. I no longer pitched by phone (or snail mail) but instead sent query letters with an efficient click. Trips to Fed Ex to courier packets of typed out features to editors was replaced by email and WeTransfer or Google Docs. No longer did telephone book sized boxes, holding my book manuscripts back from the publisher with edits, arrive at my door. Technology made my work ever easier and also I was, as I am now, able to hear directly from readers of my work and that actually increased my sense of connection.
This somewhat solitary journey is an inherent part of any creative endeavour as well as that of an entrepreneur. One learns to accept that and doing what you love becomes your companion and chases away the alone-ness. You fill up from the inside out and that tactic has become my ballast. I have a tool kit of what I need to stay centered and I am using each of those tools right now.
I’m as social, if not more, than the next person. I’ve learn to attune that balance of solitude with reaching out to friends and family and simply getting out into the world. I can do yoga at home but I already so miss the gentle communion of being on my mat in a room of 40 people all breathing the same ins and outs breaths. It’s comforting and I miss that along with tango, coffee with friends, urban adventures and even an innate feeling of safety walking about my neighbourhood without darting away from strangers. Most of all, I miss hugging my sons.
Elizabeth Gilbert is on Insight Timer app with a free chat about feeling fear these days. She talks about the rug being pulled from under us, then the floor from under the rug and then the ground from under the floor. But they can’t take the inside ground away from us – at least not forever. I pay more attention to the birds chirping in the morning, the snickering of the squirrel outside, the rainbows on the windows of my neighbour and the palatable beauty of my country as it hunkers down together.
A quick word about the recipes….
I doubt I’ll be getting the Passover staple ingredients to do the usual Seder but I trust that the powers that be will take a benevolent attitude about this. With that in mind, I’m sharing recipes that use pantry ingredients that hopefully you have on hand. At the top of the list is my recipe for homemade matzoh, made the way it once was –perhaps made the way the Israelites themselves did in their hasty flight from bondage.
Homemade matzoh is fast and easy. Traditionally it’s made from a special crop of wheat, carefully guarded, and especially milled for Passover so we’re taking some liberties here using regular unbleached flour and tap water. Just make sure you don’t let your matzoh dough sit around beyond 18 minutes allowing any fermentation to take place because that turns it from the flat bread of affliction into plain old crackers. That said, nothing beats the hearty, rustic taste of matzoh made at home and not from out of a box. On the other hand, this homemade matzoh is not suitable to make my Matzoh Buttercrunch, aka Matzoh Crack recipe.
Aside from Homademade Matzoh, there’s a fabulous Passover Baklava Cake that is as amazing as it sounds. My sweet-potato Truffle Torte is matzoh-free and will satisfy chocoholics. Last is a Maple Walnut Cookie that is good with any sort of nut and is naturally gluten free.
This issue of Betterbaking.com is all free and you can access it here:
(It’s also online at Betterbaking.com but via the Medium link, you’ll find all the recipes are free) https://medium.com/@marcygoldman/a-note-from-marcy-april-2020-issue-96446e16b1c0
Stay safe as you can, stay close to hearth and home. Have faith that this too will pass and as impossible as it seems, some day you will, I will, feel safe again.
Author, Master Baker
Homemade Passover Matzoh https://www.betterbaking.com/recipe-items/homemade-passover-matzoh/
Free Passover Baklava Cake https://www.betterbaking.com/free-recipe/
Passover Chocolate Crack Torte https://www.betterbaking.com/recipe-items/passover-chocolate-crack-cake/
Maple Walnut Cookies https://www.betterbaking.com/recipe-items/passover-maple-cookies/
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