January 2011 A Note from Marcy
Make my new year pure and simple: make it vanilla. Free Mandarin Chocolate Chip Orange Glazed Cupcakes and Free My Bon Appetit Thanksgiving Cranberry Blueberry Pie
BOGO – Buy One, Get One at BetterBaking.com continues
Happy New Year and welcome back to the kitchen. What’s that you say? You’ve never left it and you haven’t stopped eating for two weeks? Join the club. But there is still a whole lotta of interesting baking to explore, albeit in a less frantic way – so I hope you’ll keep me company as 2011 unfolds.
BOGO at BB?
I also am pleased to extend to the ‘bogo’ (Buy One, Get One free a la PayLess Shoes) subscription. If you’re purchasing one month of BetterBaking.com (and this is particularly aimed towards newbies), you can get a free month for a friend. Just sign up and then let us know the email address of your friend and their name and we’ll do the rest.
As it is January lst, I think it’s only fair to start the New Year fresh and come clean with a confession that you might as well have guessed by now. It is really simple: I can’t keep up. What can’t I keep up with?
I can’t keep up with Twitter, Facebook, my website, my (non updated) blogs, Etsy, PW Daily and a ton of other publishing trades that tell me what boat I’ve missed. I can’t keep up with the recipes recipes I want to improve, create, or edit. I can’t seem to get the camera at the moment the ‘thing’ (whatever the thing is) comes out of the oven. Or I do but there sunlight is gone. Or the batteries are fried or there is butter on the lens. And this is only compounded with the fact that as time goes on, instead of having less interest in photography, I find I have more and want to take not only food shots but almost everything else I see.
I can’t keep up with the New York Times online or in print – nor follow the blogs from tango, to perfume, baking, books, music, and publishing. I can’t keep up to phone calls to friends or I do and they’re too tired to talk at night or trying a new sushi place or I’m at tango. I forget to journal and experience the bitter-sour burp of undigested emotions- having not had time to process them in a mindful way. Sweet butter is on sale and I miss it because I was bidding on an almost-new Ebay copy of Crouching Tiger. Speaking of which – I have movies to tell you about (Timer, Outsourced, Arranged, Love and Other Drugs, Away We Go) that I haven’t been able to review along with books I’ve read but I’ve loaned before I’ve reviewed them. Ingredients come and go in my test kitchen and I get a chance to visit them briefly (Vermont Cabot Cheese, Torino syrups, Christopher Ranch garlic) and then it’s on to the next.
Publishers tell me (and every other author) to promote, promote, promote and yes, you guessed it: I can’t keep up. There are things I should do and sometimes, even could do but the bigger, dirty secret is: I don’t want to. I don’t care to put a calorie count with my recipes, or feature them in weight and imperial as well as Metric, or link the ingredients to nutritional profiling, or make them vegan or try them with Splenda or make them gluten free. I know I should be on YouTube, and have apps for BB and overhaul the site and make it interactive with a forum and all sorts of community and Twitter a conversation the Pioneer Wife (who I greatly admire) and visit the Fancy Food Show and the Housewares Show and actually, do, (not just say I do), yoga. I think I was online too early, peaked too fast and yet here I am – somehow enduring and still enjoying. In my fashion – after a fashion which is to say – totally out of synch and unfashionable.
What I can keep up with is to sleep, eat, email, work out at the gym (I just insist I get there daily) and think. I think alot. I manage to have coffee with friends or meet them at the gym. Somehow, I manage to dance and primp and potter about with perfumes. I manage to invent weird cakes and strange cookies I just happen to think the world needs. What I manage is to remember who I love, what I like, and what dreams I just can’t let go of and I still trudge towards them. I manage to remember to be grateful. This is pretty important because frankly I’ve been through two of the most unpleasant years of my life so the gratitude thing is no small thing.
What I really mean to confess is – there are things we all should do and could do. And then there are things we love. Then there is the reality of 24 hours in one day and responsibilities that are firm task masters. Then there are things that bring joy – which until recently, in my life - was missing in action. And so – when I contemplate what I should do, could do –especially what I could and should do in regards to earning my keep, I am thinking more and more of simply doing what makes me happy. To that end, I am still presenting a cooking book proposal to my publisher and hoping because I believe in this book. And a book on scent, tango, and collected culinary essays (all the best Notes from Marcy but condensed and edited into nuggets I will force my unborn grandchildren to listen to). In service of joy, I sent off my collected poetry book to a publisher that didn’t have the heart to say no and my baseball novella to another one. I could have been researching Apps but in a pinch, I went with what felt more fun. I wrote another letter to Oprah (I’ve written a few over the years, since 1985 wherein I wrote her a list of 15 suggestions of better quality show topics to do), one to Rachel Ray (I love RR but she uses Pillsbury dough on camera – something which I cannot fathom). I bought new journals, new disposable foundation pens, and 2 more vintage slips from EBay. I bought new figure skates and am heading out to a pond to resume a figure skating career I let go of when the kids went into hockey. The pink and gray skates sit in a box in my bedroom and wink at me each morning – waiting for the perfect sunny, cold day to begin our adventure. See, I could have gone with new software for the computer but I went with the skates. I should have bought a part for my upstairs toilet (which heaves like Darth Vader all night long) but instead, bought two Persian tea glasses and a wee sack of premium Darjeeling and wild honey. I should have gone back to sleep the other night but instead, I made a stack of buttery toast (yes, my own bread), a scalding cup of wildly caffeinated coffee, and watched Something’s Gotta Give and stopped the DVD to study that amazing kitchen. I should have meditated this morning but instead, I visualized taking over the Black Swan’s dance sequences.
I know – keep up, grow up, do what you should. Instead, I have to settle (aka gracefully accept) the things I can get to, which is an odd balance of have-to and want to stuff. I am resigned too - dogged pony that I am, to get where I want to go – I have to stick to a certain trail that gets me to the range or the ranch. I am a plucky pony and so it’s hard to keep my head down and not gallop towards a more elusive horizon but that thing called focus seems to be the way to both getting at least something, however modest, completed and the way to some semblance of serenity.
When people tell me what I could do and should do – I don’t know about you but this inner frothing begins. I really don’t like that sensation. And then I catch hold of myself and remember to go towards this thing I call resonance – this inner vibration that tells me I am on the right path. For everything else that sounds right, seems true and reasonable and makes sense but makes me feel yucky I let go. Because chances are, if I feel good – I will get and do everything else I need and want to. It’s this spiritual eco-system that never fails.
So – in salute to one of my own New Year’s resolutions which is to have a simple, beautiful, calmer life – a vanilla life (for now), I am offering a recipe portrait in just that flavour – pure vanilla. It goes without saying that whatever else you might need in baking and cooking is in the Complete Recipe Archives. If you can't find it ask me. It's there or I will get around to creating it - either a fresh version of whatever it is or a definitive new take. Increasingly, you will notice I am publishing free recipes from my repertoire or otherwise inventing new stuff.
Happy New Year all, and sending warm wishes from my kitchen, and my life – to yours,
Master Baker, Author
Baked Old Fashioned Rice Pudding
Free!! Make my life, and my rice pudding, pure vanilla. Pure, simple, sweet – the perfect start to a new year.
Classic Butter Vanilla Cupcakes
Free, pure and simple - and in our favorite rendition: cupcakes......
Brought to you by Levis Canada and The Lodge, two icons in clothes and in housewares that helped settle this incredible continent.
Like Oprah, I have a few things I know for sure. My list is random and only mildly wise.
Orange Olive Oil Bundt Cake
Big, gorgeous, crowd-pleasing, moist and sunny- a corn pouncake that is indescribably delicious. What better way to start the year.
Double Chocolate Fudge Cookies
Someone dared me to replicate cookies. I chose to make my own. When in doubt, reinvent don’t imitate.
Use a Lodge cast iron skillet as your panini grill and count on this huge great bread for the best sandwiches, grilled, toasted or resh
Oh my – quick and dirty- decadent and delicious. I just found a partner in crime. It starts with a cake mix but I will soon have a scratch cake recipe for this amazing treat.
Old Fashioned, Fragrant, Homey, Banana Bread
Coconut, walnuts and banana - it's almost restorative.
Homemade Buttermilk Biscuit Mix and Garlic Cheese Biscuits
Sometimes you need something easy, savory and restaurant style.
Previous Monthly Essays from A Note From Marcy: