Dear Friends and Fellow Bakers,
Welcome to the warm and balmy baking days of July! Above, behold a beautiful Canadiana Butter Tart to celebrate Canada Day. (Alas, that's not the Free Recipe of the Month but there is a free (!) and glorious Buttermilk Coffee Cake so read on....)
I have a habit that gets triggered each time I find a new passion, whether it be hobby or work related. My habit is called gathering. Depending on the endeavour, I gather research materials, tools and equipment as if I’m writing a Ph.d. I meticulously forage the Internet for information, making files of links, flitting, clicking from here to there like an industrious, intellectual little bee. If it’s soap making, I browse associated books on it from Amazon, the bookstore and local library. I visit supply shops in town or virtually troll Etsy, Ebay and Google and order a plethora of samples of lye, shea butter and fragrances oils. For good measure, I read reviews of any and everything that’s relative. Recently I got into essential oils and the ‘gathering’ behaviour was the same: workshops, books and a whole afternoon comparing both lavender oil brands and diffusers. To say I gather is an understatement. I marinate in things almost to the point of not even doing anything, becoming paralyzed by the surfeit of information. Reaching that level of overload, given the glut of everything out there (of varying qualities) is easy.
I must point out however that despite the risks (all gather, no action) I like the gathering stage in its own right. It’s like pioneering and to be a little Laura Engels Wilder about it, I like ‘laying in a stock’ and hunkering down. There’s a just certain largesse of having everything I need just in case. Just in case there’s a flood or a shortage? Really? No, but just because there will come a time when I will do something and when I do, I want to be prepared.
But still, I’ve noticed over the years that when I gather too much, I feel overwhelmed and seize up. The only tonic is to counter overload is to purge and pare down which also has its down side.
Fortunately, I’ve evolved. Nowadays, I investigate new things just a bit and before I dive in, I try and make do with what I have (a vial of rose oil, some coconut oil for fragrance pursuits, let’s say). I limit my information gathering to two books and 20 minutes on the Internet and I do just a little bit of the ‘new thing’. If the passion snowballs, I ‘earn’ more supplies or more research time. In short, I test the passion with my own participation.
You know what? It’s calming. I don’t have to ingest the world to feel safe or sated or prepared and the relationship I slowly create with the new (or revisited) project evolves more organically.
What does this mean to the baker in me? I keep a small amount of baking supplies: a little bit of pumpkins seeds, one small jar of Nutella, a little whole-wheat flour or a little rye (ok, a ton of bread flour and white all-purpose) and a packet of chocolate chips. I don’t shop for sales and amass supplies to a baking bunker. If I need more, I make even getting it into a mini adventure and find a new place to get it (especially a great new spice store).
There’s an expression: how you do anything is how you do everything (in your life). Frantically stocking up and madly trying to bake four things or nothing is no longer my pathway. Concurrent activities and the resultant stress it breeds is not an option anymore. Perfecting one thing or being with one thing (a recipe, a book) ensures I get something done. With that in mind, I hope you notice that in this month’s Note from Marcy (and for the last while) features a quartet of beautifully honed little recipes that (to me) are pearls. The days wherein I would have thrown over a dozen recipes to flood you (and me) are behind us. Instead, I offer you the intimacy and sheer pleasure of less…..is more.
Happy Baking, Happy Canada Day and July 4th!
Warm wishes for happy baking, from my kitchen to yours,
Author, Master Baker
I often have free recipes on Medium.com so follow me there too! And for your reading pleasure, my feature on meeting Anthony Bourdain https://medium.com/@marcygoldman/losing-anthony-bourdain-3a385fad10d3
Recipes of the Month, July 2018
Free!! Easy Buttermilk Coffee Cake
Who can say not to a moist and old-fashioned 9 by 13 inch coffeecake that is pitch perfect?
Canadian Butter Tarts
Carrot Cake Cheesecake
Rustic Amaretti Cookies
Carrot Cake Cheesecake