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A Note from Marcy

Welcome to Our Biggest November Issue Ever
From the Bread and Soup Board, and from the Bakeshop,
just check the front page.

Our Post Thanksgiving Pizza Party Recipes

Are your turkeyed out? Are you shopping till you drop?
Pizza chez vous is just the ticket. Order in!

Bottle-it-and-sell-it Favorite Pizza Sauce Who needs the pizza when you make a meal of this sauce?
Pizza Hut Style Pizza Dough Shhhh. We broke the code. You can too.
Commercial taste and look; homemade quality.
BB's Famous Pizza Croissants Downloaded over 2300 times. Incredible food.
Tuscany Bread and Panchetta Salad Doesn't salad make pizza a meal?
BetterBaking.Com Classic Pizza Dough Always works. Always welcome
“OO” Italian Flour Pizza Dough Feeling like a paesan? This dough is bistro style.
BetterBaking.Com Classic Pizza Dough Perfect crunch, munch, and sweetness
Creme Brule Cue Billy Joel's Italian Restaurant song and a bottle of red....

And other new treats for subscribers:

Apple Cranberry Tart Cake
Clementine Cranberry Pound Cake

Pumpkin Bread Pudding Homey but sophisticated, soothing, spicy, sweet....
White Chocolate Thanksgiving Pecan Pie Priceless. We just raised the bar on pecan pie.
Golden Corn Rolls for Thanksgiving What's Thanksgiving without something corny?
My Bon Appetit Thanksgiving Cranberry Blueberry Pie Summer berries and cranberries won't bog you down. Delectable!
Thanksgiving Special Sour Cream Cornbread More corn. Poney up.

The Free BB Thanksgiving Menu Includes:

The Best Brined & Roast Thanksgiving Turkey 
Old Fashioned Perfect Roast Turkey
 
Just the Best Thanksgiving Stuffing Not-Out-of-a-Box 
Best Ever Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Durkee Green Beans and French Fried Onions Casserole 
Thanksgiving Roasted Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Casserole
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes 
Classic Pumpkin Pie 
Vermont Country Inn Pumpkin Cheesecake 

Hello Fellow Bakers and Friends of BetterBaking.com,

Welcome to the November Soup and Bread/Thanksgiving Menu Issue of BB -  a stupendous collection of staying stuff to tide you till the holidays warm you up. Please also note, these days I am now sending out more recipes, inbetween the larger monthly editions of BB. You will find these new recipes, chatted up in those newsletters, at the top of this (the Note From Marcy page). I find sharing new things in bits, is just more fun and a nice inbetween-the-months’ perk.

The vote is in and the BB kitchen is once again, is open for business. Don’t you find, whether you are happy or stressed, it all converges in the kitchen? It is just the ultimate place of return. As you would expect, I bake pretty well most of the time but both ends of the spectrum: harried and pre-occupied or serene with a host of happier thoughts, find me stirring, kneading, rolling and generally involving myself in tasks that either soothe or engage. These days, with the colder weather and darker days upon us, and being inbetween school terms and calendar holidays, I find my enjoyment, as well as my need to be in the kitchen surges. I cannot think of what to make first nor even choose, at times, what to make. In fact, I had a real bout of the domestic bug just a few weeks ago. I was invited to speak to a woman’s group. I never know, incidentally, when I go to give a speech, if it is a baking or cooking set. Chances are, if it is a more mature audience, they are either devoted still, to traditional pursuits like baking or for the same reason, totally fed up and tired out and could care less. Ditto with other generations: it depends on the group, which means, on a dime, I have to tailor what I am talking about lest I lose the crowd's interest. Consequently, I might start with the future of baking after Atkins and end up coaching women on how to be goddesses (which usually culminates with me inviting everyone to tango). I think the time I really scored the worst, as a speaker was a few years ago, when asked by a radio station hosting a huge singles event, that I speak on “Cooking For One”. I said, cooking for one was like cooking for four but you freeze three portions. Not a big hit. At any rate, most recently, I lost the address for my speaking venue and between my cell, and my hosters’ cell phones hooked up in conference style, I did find my way. After driving around for 30 minutes, I found three 70-something ladies, one in a hot pink coat, waving me in, like gadabout air traffic controllers flagging in a rogue piper jet. Phew. Got there. Remarkably, they were incredibly into baking and cooking and web savvy and it ended up being one of my nicest speaking engagements ever. In fact, they so inspired me, that when I arrived home, I could not seem to get enough things going. I had soup simmering, bread rising, cookies, baking, and biscuits kneaded all at once. I, like you, need the inspiration and energy from others.

At that speaking gig, there were many of the usual questions: how I got into baking? How I create recipes? Was I always a writer, etc. One question that is always asked, when my bio is read out, is why I write more or have written more for the States than Canada.  That is an excellent question.

How I ended up writing more for the States was a totally unplanned path. Living in Montreal is wonderful – it is French Canada but with the added of a world-class city (and largest tango city in North America, incidentally) Old Europe, funky Canada, plus a healthy dab of Americana, and a good dash of Latin heat. Think of four cities: Quebec, New York, Paris, and New Orleans as two sets of parents and collectively giving birth to a special city child. That progeny might be Montreal.

Montrealers feel more ‘Montreal’ than anything else – but it is indeed, Canada and Quebec, in the nicest of ways. Montreal is city slick but not so cold as you cannot find and greet, the same stranger twice in one day, which makes for four, not two, kisses, on each cheek. But, Montreal, is not,  for reasons of the market, population,  language and culture, an exactly easy place (as if it is every easy!) to thrive as a writer. There are simply limited places to write and write, in particular, in the vein I wanted to.

Then one day, many cold Novembers ago, after struggling to become a writer/novelist/poet/copywriter/playwright for a few years, I decided what I could do was venture into food writing. I was delivering carrots cakes at the time, pregnant, and pretty green (let me count the ways). I remember dropping off a batch of cakes a restaurant and then stopped to read the Montreal Gazette. I saw the food section and it all came together. I pitched the Gazette who happily, took a feature on Chocolate Chunk Cookies, then a trend, and published it four weeks later. If I tell you I test baked chocolate chunk cookies till the cows came home it would not be an exaggeration. If I tell you I stayed up all night, perched at my own doorstep, waiting to see the newspaper with my first story in it, it is the absolute truth. I cannot convey the excitement I felt in anticipating my own words and byline, published in my city paper. It is a thrill that has never, ever, dimmed.

I had many editors at the Montreal Gazette after that, as writers do (so tiresome: each time you train a new editor, they move on and there you are, breaking in a new one J all over again) and courted each one anew, having stories accepted and many not. One day, whichever editor I had refused a story. The story was on Montreal bagels – how to make them at home.
”No,’ said he.

“Why not?” I asked

”Because, no one who lives here wants to know how to make bagels we can buy, at home’


I was aghast.

“Of course they do! There is mystique, bagels are fun, easy, cold weather baking….”

“No’.

Well, that bothered me a great deal. But, later on that same week, I went to a writer’s meeting where Adrian Waller, a noted Canadian writer, author and speaker, spoke.

”Recycle’ was his credo. Approach the best editors in any market and work your way down. Never work on spec. Pitch them all, on all you do.

Well, give me a 'no' and I see a green light. Give me a glimmer of good advice, and I am off. So armed, I called the New York Times the very next day.

I spoke to their (then) Living Editor, Margot Slade. I queried her on the Montreal bagel feature.

“Who are you exactly?” was her response.

“I am a Montreal baker and writer. I can deliver a feature that will amaze your readers and ignite a bagel war’. Montreal bagels are different and ah…better, than New York bagels’.

She hemmed a bit and then seemed interested and asked if I would do it on ‘spec’, which means, you do the piece and if they like it, they take it. If not, you have written something for nothing. Sort of.

”Sorry. But I do not write on spec”.

Now this is an interesting point. As a writer, even a novice, you should not, as a rule, write on spec. I was also holding fast to the advice of Adrian Waller who had said, ‘never on spec’. That is generally true but it would have been helpful had he added the caveat, ‘except if it is the New York Times”. In which case, you say, sure. In which case, you might also even suggest you pay them.

But……

I held fast. In the brief silence on the other end, I heard an editor who was totally nonplussed by the sheer moxie of a new, Canadian baking writer.

“I can have bagel bakery photos, thrown in for free, as part of the feature” I impulsively added, thinking my brother Mark, a super photographer, could be coerced into service.

“Sold’

And that was that.

I did indeed drag my brother around Montreal, shooting bagel bakers and bagel places. When push came to shove, I disallowed him to submit his own byline, Mark Goldman, fearing I would be called on the carpet by the NY Times for nepotism. Instead, I convinced him to use his middle name and thus, the cut line for the fine bagel shots the New York Times did indeed run with my story, was ‘Mark David’, my brother, by any other name but a photographer who never existed (at least, beyond my own head and the NY Times). My brother loved seeing his work in the Times but has not yet been properly recognized. Please join me in saying ‘thank you’ to him now!

The Wednesday my NY Times bagel piece was to run, I camped out at the international Montreal airport at 6 am, waiting for the first flights from Kennedy to arrive. When it did, I tackled an American Airlines pilot, exiting customs, and wrested away his copy of the New York Times. I showed it first to my dad who claimed, the New York Times, the best paper ever. I have to agree in large part.  If you are a writer, and have anything to prove, that is the paper you want to break.

I had other pieces in the Times since then, on occasion and thank my editor, Eric Asimov for the opportunity, as well as had my poetry published run in their Metropolitan Diary. Not many food writers can say that. And they weren’t even food poems.

Months after that, I approached Bon Appetit and suggested they run a story on Quebec desserts. Fresh out of hotel school, I was feeling positively Quebecoise and sparkling with baking and dessert ideas I wanted to share. I still cautiously suggested someone else author such a feature. My editor, and now executive editor of Bon Appetit, Barbara Fairchild, said, ‘well, sure, but why not you do it?”. Quebecois desserts with a new spin were my debut piece in Bon Appetit.

What Bon Appetit and the New York Times experience showed me, why not start at the top? If you get a no, move on. Quickly. Try not to stare at empty food bowls or locked doors when unharvested fields and open arms, and flags waving you to the finish line,  await.

And, as the song goes, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. I went on to query Canadian and American newspaper food sections but more often than not, American editors accepted my feature queries with a enthusiasm and interest that was not, with few exceptions, being reflected north of the Mason Dixon. I found a home in the Washington Post, Newsday, Boston Globe, Buffalo News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press and Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel among others. Of course, I always approached Canadian editors as well - constantly! Canadian readers seemed to welcome my work but editors found me too brash or too baking-oriented. One editor asked me if I might consider writing more Odes to Maple Syrup if I wanted to get ahead. A Vancouver editor once asked me if I was indeed, American. I said, no, why?

She replied, “Well, you are too assertive.”

I said, ‘Too assertive as a writer?”

No, as a Canadian. Both, actually.

Now, this is rather silly for Canucks, while unique, are not exactly milk toasts.

But no mistake, it has been harder, as it has been for countless other Canadians, to ‘make it’ at home base, than in the States. Still, when I published The Best of BetterBaking.com with Random House Canada, I finally learned what it was like to be treated like a veritable star and honored author. No one gets better treated than the authors of RHC. Ditto for certain editors in Canada who, did all they could, to get me some ink, some space, and publish my byline. 

But, the truth is, American editors gave me full rein. Theirs is a gusto for great food, trends, as well as classics, upbeat writing, and anything that is new and unique. That is what they want. In terms of foodies and/or the greater reading public, that is what both Canadian and American readers seem to want.

Having BetterBaking.com as a place I can hang my hat means, I finally get to reach out to fellow Canadians, some of whom, because of my cross references to American products and ingredients, indeed, my experience in food being dual, think I am American. Having BetterBaking.com where no editor tells me to mind my p’s and q’s, means I can freely stir things up with both my fellow Canadians and American friends without censor. I see it, as the ultimate Baking Without Borders Party. I have not traveled much but I have been from Montreal by car, around the Great Lakes, across the Prairies to Banff and been back as far as Halifax and Charlottetown. I have been as far as Phoenix, as south as New Orleans, to Chicago, New York, Washington, Boston, and all up the eastern seaboard. I suppose, anywhere I roll some dough and find a bread-baking friend, is home. 

In the end, I suppose I think of Canada as my birth mother and fellow Canadians as my siblings at large. I think of American editors and readers, as my other, chosen family, chosen siblings, and adopted friends. BB is still, albeit almost 8 years later, still in an evolving curve. Canadian visitors are still just finding their way and discovering their baking sister. Those that do or have supported me for a longer time, have been supportive and incredibly encouraging. Thank you!  Truth is, everyone always wants to do good at home. To my American cousins, thank you too, for first opening the door and saying, ‘yes’. Sure. Write about Montreal bagels if you want to.

So for those who have wondered, if I am Canadian, why do I seem American, maybe this explains it. For Americans who wonder, why I insert some French words in my work, or slip up and say, icing sugar, instead of confectioners’ sugar or call for butter in 1/2 cup measure instead of ‘one stick’ it is because, as the beer ads go, I am Canadian.  In baking terms, in career demarcations, I am probably a bit of both. Fact is, I am pretty fickle. Pressed to choose, I’ll go wherever the wheat grows taller.

Happy November everyone. Stay warm, relax, kick back, bake or stir a soup, indulge in a spa treatment you cooked up at home. Or, stay still, and listen to the quiet that comes just before the snow covers the wheat fields.


Marcy Goldman
Baker, Writer, Host & Editor
www.BetterBaking.com
1997-2005


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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