Dear Friends and Fellow Bakers,
Happy month of November 2021, aka the month of gratitude, that is, if you’re eyeing American Thanksgiving up ahead or simply all about the upcoming Black Friday deals and grateful for bargains (spoiler alert - beware of supply chain issues this year)
I confess, I used to be a November shade-thrower. November was never my favorite month and even now, as I trundle out at 6 am on a dark, rainy Montreal morning to go swim laps, I still have some residual doubts about the eleventh month. But I focus on that brimming feeling of winter holidays on the way and the hygge-effect that starts to burgeon in me, as evidenced by my scented candle stash and the change-over of the burnt orange table runner to a forest green one matched with cedar branches in Mason jars. The sandalwood incense and pots of cardamom tea complete the tableau. Welcome November! Not only does this help me welcome the deep days of fall but these activities are rituals that ground me.
There is just this stillness on some November days. The trees are bare, they stand like thin sketches in the magic hour of each day, tensed for snow, proud sentinels of the street, ready to meet the star moonlight sky that replaces the fast-setting sun. The grass is hard and dry and people scurry somewhat from car to house; brisk walks now replace the ambling ones of September and October.
I for one, soak it all in. Each outer season and each inner season in our lives have a theme. There’s the overview of the weathery ones (summer, spring, winter, fall) and then there's the ‘what and where I was last year at this time’ comparison. Plus there’s always another mood underscore that has to do with how I look at life or time or whatever endeavour I'm embarked on. Viewed this way, November is a friend that invites me to be happily, quietly introspective. I can cozy up endlessly, recharging from the seasons prior and hunker down to a hidden germination. In this space, this seeming calm, there's still a churning of things both spiritual and creative. Seen that way, November isn’t the dark, damp doorway to an inhospitable few months but a time to look back with gratitude for personal harvests. I also look ahead and know that November can also be the gateway to a whole new adventure. None of us have ever yet experienced winter 2021 – who knows what possibilities might unfold?
Someone (see above link) finally talked about the elephant (in the self-publishing) room which is trend of photo-free cookbooks. How on earth would anyone publish a cookbook without art? The bottom line is that most indie publishers or medium-sized publishers can no longer afford to include photos, certainly not as a major publisher can. As self-publishing evolves, independent cookbook authors are realizing that the costs of producing photo-laden cookbooks (in print and eBooks) have associated costs that are become prohibitive. It includes: preparing the recipes for photos (versus regular recipe development and testing), ingredient shopping, clean-up, food styling, propping, photo editing, interior cookbook design and months, even years of time). This is if the author is doing all this work themselves versus hiring a professional photographer. It leaves an indie publisher (even traditional ones) in a difficult decision which is a return to black-and-white cookbooks. Would you buy a book without photos? If not, why? If yes (no photos) why? If both yes and no - why?
As a reader I love, almost require photos and a picture is of course, worth a thousand words. But as an author, if it is a choice between a cookbook that gets to exist and subsequently purchased, read and used versus no cookbook at all, then the choice for me is clear. My next cookbook on Scones does have photos but it’s also taught me a lot about publishing as a business as well as an art. It's made me rewind a bit and think about my next cookbook projects and how I will go about them. If case you haven’t caught on, I am smitten by everything to do with publishing and consider it a privilege to be in an era where one can self-publish. I guess you can say (cue seasonal theme of this newsletter) it makes me….grateful !
I hope you enjoy this month’s recipe selection. It's chocka full of cranberries and pumpkin, joy and hospitality. Keep warm, safe and be of good cheer. This much I know is true: it's November and we are all in this month together.
Happy baking, sweet times from my kitchen to yours,
Author, Master Baker
Free Recipes of the Month: Cranberry Biscotti and Golden Parker House Rolls
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Cranberry White chocolate Tollhouse
Cranberry Brie Pull Apart Bread