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A Note from Marcy

February 2006 Issue BetterBaking.Com
Memoirs of a Geisha Baking Issue
Cover Art by Audrey Morris

Recipe Collection

First Love Chocolate Chip Cookies !!!FREE!!!
Tiny, tender, buttery little cookies. Easy to make and captivating.
Make these 2-bite size. They are really chocolate chips held together but a touch of cookie.

Tropicana Biscotti
Swiss Fudge Topped Decadent Eclairs
Rent the sleeper chef flick Simply Irresistible and you will see why no one can resist these amazing caramel pastries. Little puffs of éclairs, filled with silken pastry cream and anointed with a unique caramel glaze.

Triple Threat Chocolate Fudge Cookies
A crispy and chewy, totally awesome chocolate ‘wow’ cookie.

Twisty Rocky Road Fudge
Romance might be wonky but this fudge is definitely rocky - in a good way. Chocolate, caramel, swirls of marshmallow cream and toasted pecans. This recipe is worth the price of the whole issue. 

French Chocolate Truffles
Decadent, easy, and romantic. Does she or doesn't he? Truffle confessional.....cans. Dat's a sweet romance.


A chocolate soufflé center in a buttery pastry crust, topped with melted chocolate or try a scoop of French Vanilla ice-cream.

Terre Etoile's Chocolate Sour Cream Fudge Cake 
Mix, bake and seduce at will. This cake made my reputation at the first restaurant where I was bakery manager and inventor and had my first major crush.

Luscious Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake
Make this in a heart-shaped springform pan to entice as if you needed anything extra to get anyone to taste this luscious dessert in a heartbeat.

Cherries Under the Snow or White Chocolate Cherry Bark
White chocolate and cherries, not unlike the hues of our Geisha Girl cover art.
An easy sweetie that makes a great gift. Sweet!

Pink Heart Cream Scones With White Chocolate and Strawberries
Pretty in pink all right – tender scones with bit of white chocolate and field berries, and a rosy frosting to beguile your Valentine.

Double Dutch Chocolate Scones
Enrobed in melted chocolate, these are a Dutch treat everyone can indulge in.

Notting Hill Brownies
Great romantic comedy, Oscar winning brownie.

Dear Friends and Fellow Bakers,

Welcome to our February 2006 Issue of BetterBaking.com.

Do geishas bake? If they do, would they write a memoir about it? Would it be non-fiction?  Recipe truth or dare? Geishas must bake for isn’t knowing how to make a great cherry pie the first arsenal of a femme fatale’s art? For my part, I think baking is utterly, irresistibly seductive (when it is not being nurturing and homey). You can cajole with sweets all you want this month. Given that Valentine’s Day seems to coat the month in romantic notions, your efforts should be most welcome. Or maybe it’s just that no one ever refuses free treats? Hmmm.  Needless to say, true love starts with real chocolate, which explains the predominance of chocolate offerings in this issue.

Incidentally, if you want to look pretty while you bake, check out the fine aprons over at www.jessiesteele.com for romantic, retro chic  These gorgeous aprons are almost frocky, and are sure to make you swoon. They make ideal Valentine's Day gifts and some people are wearing them as fashion. Speaking of retro, we are nuts about the mellow yellow vintage Moon Beam clock by Westclox, available at www.llbean.com. At $36 these are the hottest time pieces (old ones are going on Ebay for $70 U.S. a pop). The newer edition rosy pink Moon Beam is primo Valentine's Day Stuff. It runs on batteries as a back-up and features a gentle moon beam glow for telling time in the middle of the night. It is absolutely the sweetest clock around.

On another note, some subcribers have mentioned they are not receiving their issues of BB each month. We checked up on this and the culprit seems to be spam filters you may be using. Please make sure mail from editor@betterbaking.com is accepted and on your white list of accepted email addresses so that you get all our mail. New issues are always posted online so if you think you missed an edition, just check the site.

Wishing you sweet times in the sweetest month of the year, and advising you to stock up on chocolate!

Warm wishes from Wheatland,

Marcy Goldman
Writer & Baker
Editor and Host
www.BetterBaking.com


The Note From Marcy Monthly Essay

Isn’t It Romantic? *

Marcy Goldman

A while ago, the National Post of Canada printed a commentary from a great thinker who was asked to submit his notion of our social future. It was by economist Jacques Attali, entitled I Love You and You and You, The Death of Monogamy. Mr. Attali’s stance was that in the not-so-distant future,  monogamy (that old chestnut) would be a myth we could tell our great grandchildren about, whilst slapping our heads in disbelief that once, we had been so silly as to create an entire society based on it. Attali contends that the notion of one love, the sort that makes us hope and yearn and attend romantic movies in droves, would disappear the way of dinosaurs, VHS, and peeling wands. It was clearly a matter of the facts.

I read Jacques Attali’s take on the dubious future of monogamy with great interest. Much of his logic is based on a certain presumption of social and cultural quantum equations. These include the fact that we are all living longer and most of us will get bored with one partner; women no longer need men for money, babies, or to vote; and we are a society that values disposability and are known for our quick turnovers. We simply don’t get the concept of commitment to anything, be it our Internet provider, let alone bigger deals like being attached to one other person, for the long haul and in sickness and in health.

The essay was logical and oh-so-slick; its author made such a clear case that I blanched, pressing my hand to the base of throat, feeling my breath catch there. Indeed socio-economic history points to the rightness of his vision and trends seemingly support it. But, after digesting the essay, I relaxed. I don't bite. I simply don’t believe monogamy only exists in a narrow context of economic, social, and cultural data.

For one, as a veteran worrier and intellectual prognosticator, I can only attest that few things, however logical on paper, necessarily evolve or distill down in the ways we forecast. Consider the 70’s, where pretty well every futurologist said the problem in the new millennium would be a surfeit of leisure time, courtesy of technology. I don't think so.

Two: morals, genetic technology, and the financial sense of marriage are changing – true. But again, who’s to say without reasons of economy and the fact that we are living longer (and more likely boredom with one partner in the longer life span) there won’t instead be generations of people delaying marriage and reproduction. Once they do marry, they will have sown wild oats, emotionally and financially matured and ready to opt for monogamy, as a matter of choice versus economic and social morays. Overall, both monogamy and marriage might a yet be sounder, more stable proposition. Commitment might be the new cool. 

Who’s to say that the resultant generations of offspring of such unions won’t profit from love and care in ways we cannot begin to imagine? Is there any taxation on having good faith? Society might be shaken and shifted at its core at times, but it doesn’t all collapse. Besides which, our morality and even our humanity might get jostled at times, but our souls are markedly intact.

Consider the whole new generation of laboratory-conceived children. Did geneticists ever consider that beyond perfect progeny, and offering hope to infertile couples that barely two decades later, children of donor sperm, on discovering they have several half siblings, would be bonding, as they discover each other on the internet. (See New York Times, November 20 2005, “Hello, I’m Your Sister. Our Father is Donor Number 150’ by Amy Harmon). Are these 20-something kids connecting in the name of science or economy? No, not at all. It is about this timeless thing called love and roots. Hardly futuristic, is it? You may be conceived in a lab but in the end you want to know whom you can share Thanksgiving dinner with. Way to go kids.

Thing is, there is a real problem using current notions as one brushstroke on the future. Given the same ingredients, five bakers could make ten-fold different recipes. Given the data and conjecture, one can envision all sorts of brave new worlds.  I could go one on one with any futurist and only concur that things are changing. How they eventually wind their way is anyone’s guess and even then, the change is a social/cultural tango that rarely stays its beat for more than a few years. Speaking of which, guess what's In lately? According to the New York Times (again) what's In is: modesty. Well, I'll be. Modesty is what is trendy and this comes the exploding era of total Over Exposure.

At any rate, I am not sure envisioning the death of monogamy is about social, cultural, and economic evolution nor wholly sound a vision. Nope -it's something else.

I contend that this essay, I Love You and You and You is but a fancy way of fear mongering about romantic love itself. I hold that the one-love-forever dream is still sets many hearts aflutter, married and single. That romances fumble and marriage ends makes us sad but the fundamental things still apply. It is not about shared property being divvied up that makes us mourn; it is the end of that shared dream – a hope that in humans at least, whether we live in 1806 or 2006, that still seems to spring eternal.

We can send people to the moon; we can download anything from a college degree to a passport or the intimate diary of a stranger off the Net in minutes. But, with few exceptional societies, most of us has not yet trained the  human heart to love a few people, in quite the same way, at the same time.  We are not even particularly good at sequential love. The mainstay of us seem to very much want to 'love you and only you'. Indeed, we hunger for one eternal romance and a life companion with whom to travel a shared path and end our days with,  even as we might suffer a late or protracted start to this vision. We are just now learning that there is no such thing as quality time either. It is quantity, that over time, breeds quality. And therein lies some of the charm of shared history, in regards to monogamy, otherwise known as the On Golden Pond style of togetherness.

In this bright new millennium, we are as bright as anything but not so terribly wise.  Besides, who among us wants to be the Scrooge of Valentine’s month or cozy up to a platform that suggests that romantic love, anchored, as it is with the yearning for that special someone is but a fad that has had its run? In this case, it might not pay to be right. I’d sooner be happily oblivious and shy away from the wagging finger of an economist-cum-futurist who might also eating at a table set for one. (Note to self: do not ask economists about the state of romance).

What made me read Attali’s I Love You and You and You is for the same reason anyone is riveted to such a headline.  We are in love as ever - judging from the box office success of Pride and Prejudice, online dating, and the brisk trade of roses in winter - with the notion of forever sort of devotion as we always were.

True Love never fails to inspire. What do we say when we see swans on a pond?  They mate for life. The wishful feeling that evokes will never be eroded, regardless of whatever else changes. It is that feeling and the sentiment that underscores it that is the tent peg of enduring passion. It is our fervent hope that it is at the very least,  possible.

At the end of the day, maybe monogamy will be a niche domain of unique people like those among us who still know how to bake bread. Or perhaps, faced with the loss of the magical idea of one love, forever, we will remember to honor and cherish what we have before it’s gone. Personally, I don't think it's not gone but we simply may have lost our talent for seeking and keeping it.

Warning monogamy is on the way out, and citing all evidence to the case, is hard to ignore. But if there is one thing even brilliant minds cannot predict, it is the affairs of the heart.  The heart, bless its soul, goes its own way. If you don’t believe me, check with the best futurologist I know. She lived 231 years ago and she is still mostly right about most things that matter. Her name was Jane Austen. I bet she is somewhere, wherever sweet souls reside, chuckling behind a lavender-scented hankie, and saying in her gentle but forthright way,
“My word,  I fear our Mr. Attali is no Mr. Darcy’.

Wishing you a wonderful Valentine's Day all this month, all year, and if you are lucky, throughout your life.

Marcy Goldman
Editor and Host
www.BetterBaking.Com

 

* This essay is dedicated in memory of my Aunt Helen and Bern Miller, sweethearts for over 68 years, and who never went to bed without a kiss goodnight.
Marcy Goldman © 2006


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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