Dear Friends and Fellow Bakers,
Welcome to the March 2023 issue of Betterbaking.com!
A few months ago an editor of mine asked me to pitch some stories that were â€˜evergreenâ€™. Iâ€™d never heard this term before with regards to food features but I quickly discovered it referred to stories that as you would presume can be published any time of year and always be fresh. Think of a story on classic or all-seasonal chocolate chip cookies versus springtime rhubarb recipes. It got me thinking about the term, evergreen.
Iâ€™m smitten with the concept of evergreen because like the verdant spruceÂ trees that have kept us company all winter thereâ€™s that same uniqueÂ somethingÂ inside all of us, whether weâ€™re twenty or sixty years old that is alsoÂ evergreen. You might be feeling creaky or dusty or in a bit of a post Ground Hog Day slump. But trust me, something thatâ€™s always essentially 'you' and 'forever you' is in all of us. In fact, your body by way of each separate organ is always regenerating itself. Still, itâ€™s possible youâ€™ve forgotten the lively feeling and you might need to shake the emotional snow off the same way we shake the snow off the pine tree bough. That green is always there.
Forever young, forever green....
I notice this in March when my spirit begins to wake up and I can feel that psychic greenery stirring. It vibrates inside asking unspoken questions such as:Â what do you want to do this spring? OrÂ where have you been all winter? Or:Â isnâ€™t it time to shake off old leaves and peeling bark and re-launch your life? No wonder life coaches do huge business in spring. (Iâ€™m making that up; I have no data on it but I am presuming for the sake of this editorial).
Lately Iâ€™ve noticed a collective malaise that coincides with end-of-winter and ongoing pandemic issues. Itâ€™s understandable. But no worries â€“ there are tonics for such things and I'm a pro at this. Tonics like what? Change your route home â€“ take the long way or the shortcut. Donâ€™t listen to music while you drive and say no to phone calls while you drive. Just observe instead. You've been missing the world with all those calls and learned to fear your own wandering mind. If you let it go free, it will eventually move to higher ground.
Change your perfume or your soap or the decorative flower arrangements in your house. Change the music you listen to, try a new yoga class, buy a different colour sweater and throw out the old sweater you havenâ€™t worn in years. Make a different filling hamantashen, make your Irish Soda Bread with white-whole wheat flour or make a make blondies instead of brownies. Read a different genre of book; if youâ€™re reading romance, thrill psychic thriller; if you read historical fiction, try speculative or fantasy fiction. Or just suspend Netflix for a month and start reading instead. If you meditate sitting, try a lying down meditation. Change your comforter cover (Ikea has unexpensive, gorgeous ones), fill up the car at a different gas station, try colourful socks versus Costco white athletic ones.Â Taste something different.Â Have breakfast out and at a new place or make something new for breakfast. Recently I made Eggs Benedict. Pick up paints or wool or a bag of earth and a new ivy plant.
EvenÂ the smallest change can produce great shifts and but all shifts need to be wooed.You don't have to move to Seoul or Walden Pond to transform inside out. Just sayÂ yesÂ and keep onÂ keepingÂ on saying yes. It might take some time but I can guarantee something fresh will seep in.
So many times we all focus on changing the â€˜what isâ€™ parts of us or the negatives we say we want to change. We say things like:Â this is how it always is. This is how and who I am. Maybe so, but life can be surprising and itâ€™s not a bad idea to drop the hubris of thinking that we know ourselves. Maybe we donâ€™t or maybe we can challenge the status quo of us.
At any rate, itâ€™s far easier to overlay a new template atop the old, crackly matrix that no longer serves. If you allow it, in time the new replaces some of the old or simply upstages it. One day we wake up, our perspectives have altered just a smidge. Weâ€™re nourishing that evergreen thing â€“ that wee, beautiful lifeblood vein of renewal. Itâ€™s like an emerald ember you blow on until itâ€™s catches hold and is fire bright.
On this end, myÂ yesÂ to being evergreen is treating myself to breakfast at the Ritz very soon, along with visiting a roof-top green house cafÃ© I discovered. And (ta-dah) I finished my tango memoir and it's now going into editing and production stage. I'll also be a special guest and 'pie-ing' it up at my alma mater, McGill University at this live streamed Pie Chat and event.Â It's on March 15th; here's the link:Â https://fb.me/e/2eYoNBaYt
In other food news, thanks to a Connecticut friend who clipped this for me, yeasted or donut-style hamantashen are now trending.Â Check out this featureÂ in the New York Times. You can use my ownÂ Yeasted Hamantashen DoughÂ as your base recipe (it's also in my Jewish Holiday Cookbook).
Speaking of hamantashen, a few years ago the trend was my own Bakery Style Hamantashen Dough. Then I (and everyone else) experimented with fillings (mango, lime, dulce de leche, chocolate). My latest was last year when I presented aÂ Chocolate Marble Hamantashen. Nowadays? Bakers are going after the dough itself (along with the filling) and rainbow or unicorn concept hamantashens are on the rise. Confetti Hamantashen (white chocolate cheesecake filling, confetti and glaze outside) is vying for top honors as well. That all said, hamantashen take a little effort and in the end, people seem to like the tried and true which is so old, it's new again.
Happy Purim, happy St. Patâ€™s, beware the Ides of March, hope your survive mid-term break. I hope you remember that you are the finest house plant in your home. Take care of it. Ask it what it needs, water, sun, a kind word? Above all, stay evergreen.
Stay well, bake often and share the oven output. In these still crisp new days of March, enjoy the extra minutes of sunlight coming sooner each day to a kitchen near you.
With warm wishes from my hearth to yours, wherever it may be.
Master Baker, Author
Recipes for March 2023