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A Note from Marcy

July 2004

The Gone Fishin’ Issue of Betterbaking.com or
Summer in River City and recipes from a picnic hamper…..

Recipes for July
Please note Miss Liberty Cheesecake is the free/sample recipe for the month.


Canadian Butter Tart Squares or Pie
Miss Liberty Cheesecake
Southern Style Flaky Biscuits

Picnic Hamper Chicken
State Fair Blue Ribbon Strawberry Preserves
Andrea's Deep, Dark Truffle Fudge Cake
Family Picnic Bread

Dear Friends and Fellow Bakers,

Welcome to the Gone Fishin’ issue of BetterBaking.com.

Gone fishin’? Well, the pace is more relaxed and this baker is headed up to the country for some R&R by the lake. I am not supposed to say a word but a male relative of the baker, a very close relative actually, (and not male offspring more like a sibling) will be just married by the time you read this. Shhhhh….you didn’t hear it from me. But guess who made the entire sweet table? Fourteen cakes, four trays of marble brownies, apricot bars, pumpkin pie biscotti, rhubarb apple squares, Dulce de Leche, Hazelnut, New York Cherry and Chocolate Eruption Cheesecake later (did I mention two bubkas and a tower of cinnamon buns?), and I am ready to hide out in my hammock for three days. Ah, but doesn’t it smell good here!  Add some summery breezes to the baking scents, give a flag raise for Canada Day and July 4th and you can appreciate this lovely July 2004 is a head turning oasis.

Our June 2004 All That Jazz issue musical mode lingers as I share this month’s essay, a salute to musicals and summer, in the essay, Summer In River City, along with some appropriate recipes. I caution you now; this is not for the sedate or stern of heart. If you are not sentimental or groan when you hear Broadway tunes, just pan down to the recipes. Otherwise, I welcome you to a journey of images of sunny days, other times, and a luscious sense of yearning I hope never leaves any of us. For some reason, summer, musicals, July 4th and Canada Day, July 1st, seems a perfect time to speak of such things.

We also welcome some new friends to the site. www.Cutco.com are folks we have known a long while and each time we test out their fine cutlery, we become more enthused – and we will be sharing our zeal with some neat product reviews.

Charity and Bakers? BB to Donate Percentage of Subscriptions to S.O.S., America's Bakesale

We have also, after many months of researching, adopted a charity close to our hearts, and yours.

It is the the American Bake Sale, www.greatamericanbakesale.org.htm, co-presented by Share Our Strength and PARADE Magazine, also sponsored by ABC, Betty Crocker and Tyson (see our front page for the links and logos). We will be letting you know more about how to contribute with your own bakesale to feed children at risk of hunger. (We will be setting this up with the States and Canada). Please note that a percentage of all BB subscriptions will be donated at the end of each year to this food charity program. It is nice to know that when you subscribe to BetterBaking.com you are also donating to a good cause and helping to feed kids, nation-wide through the S.O.S Programs. I will be offering free recipes to S.O.S. to help the broader bakesale, in a cyber way. The recipes will have a twist – they are scratch ingredients and mixes (Betty Crocker is a devoted S.O.S. supporter) so please have a look. They are sure to be fun, fast, and novel baking ideas. More on America’s Bakesale as we get more acquainted and coordinate our online efforts.

As for summer recipes, there are a ton more in the Archives, pickles, preserves, milk-boiled sweet corn, more pies, and salads. I offer you a picnic basket’s worth in this month’s recipe collection however. Do remember to check for extras being added all the time (Banana Cream Pie is on my test list). JazzedonJava.net has more of my recipes.

And for your summer reading pleasure.......
 

Summer in River City
Marcy Goldman

Oh, we got trouble
Right here in River City
Right here in River City
With a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for 'pool'
That stands for pool
We surely got trouble
We surely got trouble
Right here in River City
Right here

ALBUM: The Music Man
ARTIST: Meredith Wilson

Where is River City exactly? You know, the River City wherein Professor Harold Hill, of The Music Man, duped everyone ‘cept Marion the Librarian into thinking he would lead 76 trombones down Main Street in fine form? The River City where there were bells on a hill and pool halls, lots of trouble and burgeoning romance? Well, wherever River City is, as well as that tiny town of Oklahoma, or the village in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, or blessed Avalon of Green Gables fame, I want to emigrate there for good.  I want to reside and be from there. If someone could just wave a wand and impose me in a musical or the mythical local of a composite of vintage musicals, I promise, I’d not ever whimper  - for that would be pretty well replete.   Do you feel that way too?  Do you miss an era you have never known but your soul remembers? I do. I miss that heyday of Broadway that produced that style of musical that had people breaking into song and dancing down the street. Of course, people do not do this, then or now,  – but in a musical, in those days, it was just this side of possible. Course, that was then…and the world, has lost so much of it joy and innocence. It is not a time for sweetness …unless you opt to bring it back. Bringing it back would take card-carrying sentimental fools to do so but nothing is so overdue as old-fashioned romance, soft-core nostalgia, and dreamy whispers of a world a major chord away.

It’s no wonder some of us want to take a hike over the rainbow and covet the sweetness of a place like Brigadoon or Carousel.  Maybe it is time to bring back the sentiment and the music. If we ever needed sweetness and light, it is now. If you are up for the trip, here is a lush, tapestry of my want list – it spans a host of images that should leave you dizzy and lost and yet found again, in a manner of speaking. Cue orchestra, start the overture, and raise the curtain. Buckle up – we’re taking a trip.

Years ago, I was a chorus dancer in local productions but even that (grueling rehearsals and all) scarce put a dent in my secret plan to cross through time and fiction and live in a staged world. I pranced (and sang) my way through Hello, Dolly, painted scenery, got thrown and twirled in the air, and lost 30 pounds in two months. I was a waif but I was happy. Actually, to keep ‘in time period’, we girl dancers were required to wear a corselets, sort of a latter day bustier, to keep our waists tiny and prepare us for the rigors of full costume by show time. I still remember my two dresses: the buttercup yellow number with the bows and tiered hem and the red satin and black tulle gown for the supper club scene. I miss those dresses. Whatever wardrobe room they ended up in, I do believe a part of me is still living in those gowns. “Every woman has one dress that is them”  I was told by the sage wardrobe woman who dressed the cast so splendidly (and who turned out to be a ‘he’ but fiddle deedee). “That red dress is ‘you’”. Alas, apparently, the dresses (all the costumes) went from our production to one out in Vancouver but last I heard, no one had the requisite hourglass figure to fit them. (Says she archly)… they were designed for me, and I wore them first and I am much obliged to the loyalty those frocks showed.  Sniff.

Now these were dresses with an absolute perfect equation of rustle to swish ratio.  Bias cut, with bodices that would make Scarlet O’Hara wince, everywhere I walked, either of those dresses would sway just so – exposing the tiniest bit of petticoat, ankle, and black character Capezio dance shoes. Clearly, it seems dresses like that would put chiropractors out of business simply because one’s posture improves dramatically by wearing one. You rise up in the saddle, so to speak. You find your backbone and your neckline pokes out from those jewel necklines like a swan. Gee whiskers! Golly, yes. Those dresses make you a lady from the outside, in.

It is no secret (and disease, war, crop failures, drug free child birth notwithstanding) that my era of choice is vaguely 1800-1900. My era is a town that has Broadway score behind it, and is lit up by a paper moon and an achingly yellow, unstinting sun. My perfect world is contained in a steamer trunk, yes indeed, it is. Open that trunk and out springs a town and a cast of types who are more family than family and who speak Perky Talk, a dialect of uncomplicated people who know what’s what and have half a mind to tell you so. Mine is a town that has a subtle sent of starch and Indian paintbrushes, melting butter on dollar sized pancakes and apple blossoms. Mine is a berg most anyone would want to call home. Wanna peek? Just push away those gingham curtains.

In summer, my desire to be and live as a character out of a Jerome Kern, Rogers and Hart, Hammerstein play becomes as keen as newly mowed hay, blossoming lilacs, and honeysuckle hedges. I want to fish, stroll, and paint my wagon. I want to dance in a laneway, flit among butterflies, and tuck my hand on some gent’s arm and stroll a spell. I am a girl outta my era and out of time signature living in a soulless new millennium that says I am stranger than springtime. I want to swing till dusk in a tire swing and land in a mound of hay; catch fireflies in a cracked jar and rinse my hair in rainwater I collected the night before.

Oh, but just picture me, upon your knee, in a pinnie and white stockings. I could be happy as a June bug. But see, here’s the thing. In this perfect world, everyone would be like me – fashioned of musicals, birthed by starlight and dreams of a time and an America gone by. A simple rural reverie and corn pone romance.

Here in Springtown, on Main or Maple Street, folks take the long way home, and are into courtin', strolling, bidding on pies, talking books, and reading short story installments in the The Herald or The Register, dropping linen handkerchiefs and hoping someone finds them. Better yet, remembering to scent the hankie with Florida Water or oil of tea rose. If only the worse unhappiness we knew was to find the soda fountain was out of sarsaparilla and we had to make do with iced tea or lemonade...and that was the day's worst disappointment.

How I long for white shirts with tiny tucks, pencil mustached men coming out of barbershops with red swirling poles outside. I want to frequent a general store with penny candy, a shop keeper that calls me Miss Marcy, hands me a bag of barley sugar candy and blackballs from St. Louis and says, ‘Now, Missy, will you be putting that on account or how’s about we trade a batch o’ yer fine biscuits that took the blue ribbon at the Sadie Hawkins’s Day fair?”. I want that.

I also want to bump into gossiping old maids, and cluck at knickered boys who cross my path, and get wide-eyed to see “Circus Coming Soon” signs.  I want to wag my finger at an orange cat that steals the cream, shuck corn, pry berry hulls, and wipe sweat off my brown with a calico apron. I want to be woo-ed by a sweet boy called Charlie and then run and tell my best friend (in person: NOT by cell phone, email, fax or text messaging!!!) that some fella is sweet on me and asked my pop if he could come callin’. 

I want to use a paper fan with a lacquered wood handle to cool off; watch beads of moisture form on Mason jars of new jam and find extra cache of honey in a hive I forgot. I want my picnic basket, replete with buttermilk-fried chicken, to snag the highest price at the charity auction.

I want to live where the moon is always a full one and there is a brook I slip pretty stones in or a well that hears my wishes. I want a tree with my initials in a heart, and a screen door that rocks back and forth in an easy-going, melodic squeak. I want the sky to look like rain and then deluge and then rainbows. I want a pond filled with catfish and a private place where only I know where the best blueberries hide out. I want a Saturday night social and caramel corn and a promise of a Ferris wheel and fireworks that are pretty and unchoregraphed and followed by the gasp of delight and delayed sound of the rockets that clear the sky.  I want some strange, gold-toothed lady to read my tarot cards and tell me I have two men in my future: one will come by sea and one on a horseback. “Which one will I choose”, say I. But she puts the cards away as I lick the last of light blue cotton candy from my fingertips.

I want to sally forth and do a square dance. Or plan a barn raisin’ and organize the victuals and make committees of my bestest of friends. I long to argue over the décor (harvest ‘n hay stacks or stringed pink lights, Japanese garden theme that will have the girls in the other county say I’m getting citified and above myself).  I want to fret over high top shoes that pinch and I want to go to the dance in that surrey with the Isinglass curtains. (I will pass on the guy called Curley or Judd). I want to smell fresh shoe polish, bayberry cologne, all mingling with roasted corn, spicy apple cobbler and dandelion wine. Speaking of spirits, I want to get silly on blackberry cordial and loose my silver pendant, holding a four-leaf clover that I will find after next snow’s thaw. I will press it in a journal I keep; the one with the leather ties and swear it brings me luck. One day, I will sew it into a down quilt that will keep my first-born baby boy warm.

I want to start a newspaper that makes the town matrons say, ‘well now, isn’t she a caution!” and the menfolk, scratch their heads. And I want someone renegade with a ton of dough to haul up one day with lumber and nails and build a place for that darned newspaper that shows people I DO mean business and AM a caution. But in a good way. 

I guess I want each and every cliché and I want it in G Major or nice, bright C Major key.

Ah yes.
Wouldn’t it be loverly?
I’m as corny as Kansas in August, is what you’re really saying, right?
I reckon you are right. Time to reel it in and come on home.

Those musicals, those times, those worlds are sleeping in another strata of time, much like Brigadoon. I only get there when I dream and I only dream when common sense takes a vacation and no one is demanding I come down to earth.

So, instead:

I am dancing to Rent and a sleeper of a show called The Last Five Years while watching my sons play baseball (I have a headset, I stake out a forest area near the diamond, I watch every play they make and I dance. Can’t help it).

I am baking up treats for day camp, baseball teams and jazz bands, and wondering where cyberspace really is. I am referring to my fridge, as the larder and calling the pantry, the buttery. I am making biscuits on my flea market, Franklin stove on my back deck, and listening to planes land and the buzz of a vintage Doobie Brothers on the radio.

Instead, I am checking the New York Times to see if summer stock musical revivals are happening at Tanglewood, Saratoga, or Cape Cod. I am plodding away on my own two musicals (yes, one involves chefs!) and dream about the day they will be staged.

Instead…. I am here, digitally yours, and oddly, soundtrack notwithstanding, amazingly, often unreasonably, inexplicably happy, and humming Do I Hear a Waltz, Where Or When and It’s A Grand Night For Singing. The corn is as high as my eyes can see and the moon is full and aglow. To quote Ms. Merman, 'I hear music and there's no one there' or maybe, just maybe, it is simply the sound of my own heart singing.

Happy Canada Day and Happy July 4th to everyone. Wishing you all a summer of music, memories, special times with special people, and idle summer moments to cherish.

Happy baking,

Marcy Goldman
Host, Head Baker, Writer
www.BetterBaking.Com
Est. 1997-2004

Summer in River City is dedicated to Richard Ouzounian, film and theatre critic, Toronto Star and host of the renown (and just off the air) CBC’s Say It With Music.

Recipes for July
Canadiana Butter Tarts
Miss Liberty Cheesecake
Flaky Butter Biscuits
Marion the Librarian Hermit Cookies
Picnic Hamper Chicken
State Fair Blue Ribbon Strawberry Preserves
Andrea’s Fudge Cake
Raspberry Zinger Bars
Family Picnic Bread

Recipes for June 2004

Potatonik 
Buffalo Girl Chicken Tenders 
Greek "S" Cookies 
Banana Bread Biscotti 
“OO” Italian Flour Pizza Dough 
Pizza on the Grill Tips
Supermarket Yellow Cake for Strawberry Shortcake
Buttermilk Vanilla Scones with Currants  

Recipes for May 2004

Ooey Gooey Peanut Butter Cookies
Anadama Bread
Basque Butter Cake
Italian Cream Cake
Whole Wheat Date and Orange Muffins
Asian Chicken Salad
Double Fudge Chocolate Cookies


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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