The It’s All Greek To Me Baking Issue of August 2004
Click here to see this month's incredible cover and newsy
Baker’s Recipes For August
Our Free Bonus Recipe
Baklavah with Honey Lemon Orange Syrup
Greek Restaurant Vinaigrette
Kourabiedes or Greek Almond Cookies
Blackberry Loyalist Bread
Wedding For Bella Biscotti
Tiramisu Wedding Cake with Berries
Dear Friends and Fellow Bakers of BetterBaking.com,
Welcome to August everyone. Back from vacation, or just taking off, the high energy of summer is still in the air. What is that pulse? Olympic fever? The crunchy part of summer balking as it smells back-to-school and the first of those leaves turning?
Whatever it is, it should have its own spice jar name, becaus you can almost taste it: yearning, waiting, impatient, and restless in a good way. August is a month of fits, starts and finishes: the rise, peak and fall of baseball and soccer playoffs, the last sand out of the trunk of the car, the matchbook from a restaurant in cottage or resort country, and that proverbial ‘one shoe’ on Interstate 87 or 104, or the TCan (dat’s Trans Canada Highway, kiddos). The month reluctantly dwindles down – but not without a fight. August is like that once a year party that you will do anything to get to, knowing it ends at midnight and the wake up call is Labor Day, which as everybody knows, is no man’s land, plain and simple. C’est la vie. C’est summer.
Summer and The Curse of Multi-Tasking….
What’s also true of summer, even as it fades, is that it is never too hot to bake or think about baking. Somehow, the more you do, the more you remember you want to do. It’s a vicious circle. The other day, I remarked to someone, that had I known that I would only learn more about baking, expand my tastes and skills, only to find out there is less time, more choices and possibilities and wind up in a chaotic frenzy of inspiration, desire, and limitations, I would have simply read Harlequin romances and ate bonbons as my day job. While it’s nice to know ‘stuff’, it’s overwhelming to know and want to do too much. Wanting and doing way too much is my default state. Some days, it crosses over from inspiration in the kitchen to simply, ah…..frantic. People do observe I am ‘high energy’ and ask me ‘how do you do it?” I sometimes simply respond by saying that I am often, very, very nervous, which brings a chuckle from everyone but me. Well, I am not often nervous but there is this high wire, high on too much joy and sourdough starter feeling sometimes. I begin something small and copable and before I know it, I am almost running alongside my car in the fervor that comes from too much ‘wanna/gotta do’ and too little time.
Frantic is what happens when I multi-task. Oh sure, I can do it. Who doesn't?But frankly, it is a horrid little word and an awful silly little concept. Multi task?
I am a human Swiss Army pocket knife. I can make bread, figure out a new tango routine, prepare my baseball line-up for Monday’s game, spritz a plant, light Blackberry Sage Incense I made myself, stir the Coq au Vin, test a new muffin, and manage to hand journal a page or two of Profound Thought as per Julia Cameron Morning Pages advice. I dance as I do all this; radio is on and sometimes, mid step, mid song, I pluck the binoculars off the top of my bread machine battalion so I can cop a glance at what seems to be an out-of-his-region mature red Cardinal only to remember I wanted to try
Till There Was You on the piano in Eflat Major instead of G.
Count to ten. Take a breath….because suddenly, it is one task too much.
Instead of Walden Pond and Ms. Buddha, I experience breathlessness – not in a good way but in a racing mind and a blank look on my face as I forget my cell phone number or garage door code sort of way. Know the feeling? I see it on the faces of the Gap cashiers and drive-by window kids at McDonalds. It is overload. It is not gender nor age exclusive. It is this life, these times, these days, this world. One day, we may be in fact, up to speed and be able to better download email on a Blackberry, while re-programming a cell phone to play a digital William Tell Overture (whilst snapping pictures of a mattress on sale at Wal-Mart), drive a stick shift car, and do a neat lipstick re-application. But until at least one more generation of kids become 18, we are not quite yet there, not quite yet competent. This is the downshift and reverse era of adaptation. Makes me cranky sometimes, have to say. Old enough to remember radios with tubes, that Tang was part in the space program, and long playing records; not young enough to instantly master my CD burner, and not yet old enough to get away with not learning new things by saying ‘I am too old’. Indeed, I am at the awkward age.
But the real problem is that too much of a good thing is simply: too much. It is a real quantity over quality collision.
So, I read Walden Pond. I take notes on simplicity and economy.
Thoreau’s words swim before my eyes. My son Jonathan (who at 19 is actually reading Thoreau instead of just quoting Thoreau like some people), comments, that “Thoreau did not keep house on his own for three kids’. Right. Thoreau just had to feed and entertain himself. Thoreau, bless him, did not tango, carpool, re-program DVD’s so as not to miss Michael McDonald In Concert on A&E, or have to spend 2 hours finding a jock cup that fell behind the washer with 'someone' nearby (let's call him Benjamin, how bout?), accusing me of ‘hiding it on purpose’ (Me hiding the jock cup? Like I hide and lose jock cups for the express thrill of seeing someone go to baseball unprepared? That is what I do for kicks? I am amazed I have yet been asked to guest on Dr. Phil: Rogue Mothers Who Sabotage Jock Straps. I can just imagine the video footage. We should get a copy; maybe show it at the next bar mitzvah).
But Thoreau did write eloquently enough on economy and simplicity to have had people read his words for nigh 150 years. Says he, “We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander’.
Pasturing freely? Does that sound like wasting time or the best advice you have heard all week?
Our lives are more complicated 150 years later. But as Henry David remarked, in a few different ways in Walden, (and for just about the nicest edition, check out Walden at http://www.shambhala.com/html/catalog/items/ISBN/1-59030-088-2.cfm. So much of our efforts, labors and inventions seem more means designed to make us scurry and hurry mindlessly forward, without wit or reason. Surely, if Thoreau felt this in 1854, and we feel it now, it is not modern life that is the culprit, it is human nature.
We need set limits on our energies (not to mention whims and impulses, and need to do it now, and have it all, instantly, and at once) lest they become the carts that drive the horse. The logical feeling is – the more you do, the more you will get done. In reality, as sensible logical as that sounds, it is akin to rubbing out an ink spot with an inky sponge. It just seems to sprawl out to yet more you can do. Takes a huge centering to appreciate less is more. It is. It just seems like less in your head. The resonating feeling tells another story.
So, these days, I opt to bake just a bit less or rather, I bake sequentially, nor in parallel acres of production baking. I can make one dozen muffins. I can make another, a different type, tomorrow. I can make one sort of bread today; I can toddle around with rolls tomorrow. Maybe, Wednesday will be croissant day or just one great soup. Friday is definitely playing hooky day. It does, in fact, all get done. It becomes a winning argument for quality over quantity; serenity over mindless hurtling. You only get serenity if you complete something. Chances neither are you can complete one thing and one thing well; not twelve, nor do twelve perfectly. Actually, forget perfect. Even Olympians try for ‘their best’, not ‘perfect’. When’s the last time anyone held up perfect scores of ‘6’ for your banana bread? Get the point? Who are we doing it for? Our inner judge – the one from the Eastern Republic of Blamania who scours at us rather than gives us a well deserved thumbs up just for showing up. You show up; you’re a contender.
At any rate, doing one thing, one thing at the time, is all you need. You will get to the finish line. A little one. Then another one. By Friday, line up five such finish lines and you have a whole string. Try it. It is a tonic. Tomorrow is, another day. And no, there is always something more to bake, to read, another race to run – unless you opt for higher ground by stopping the madness. One step, one task, maybe even one recipe, at a time.
By the way, I did get to the country with my sons this summer and spent some time on horses, rescuing fish off hooks, and finding out I liked miniature golf (sort of). I inhaled the forest and tucked it in my memory. I also thought of all the things I used to bake when I used to visit my brother Mark in the country. Minutes after I arrived, I would plunk myself in his kitchen-by-the-lake and have bread going, pie apples peeled, pie dough chilling, and a few batches of cookies baking. What was I thinking? And I did this with three little boys in tow. This time, I decided not to bake and simply be a guest. (Heck, they are still talking about the wedding sweet table I made for his wedding. I’m clear until Rosh Hashanah).
Supper drew near and a barbecue was started. Salad was made; dessert was the Tiramisu cake I had brought up. There was really not a whole lot to do or needed added. I had time to putter and I did. But then, I found a jar of baking powder, a wee bit of flour, a smidge of butter, and a touch of shortening. I spied a new canister of salt. I doused some sweet milk with lemon juice to curdle it and the next thing I knew, I was knee deep in biscuit dough. It felt like velvet. It handled like silk. It baked like clouds. The biscuits made the meal. The last thing I remember when I fell asleep, listening to the loons (or maybe it was the electronic loon sounds CD I left on) was that batch of biscuits, golden, light, feathery wisps were the best I had ever made. Maybe more so because they were the only fresh, baked good we served and there was no competition on the table. Maybe because, all my efforts, care, and baker’s touch were distilled down into 2 cups of flour.
One thing, done well. That’s the key. Having so few ingredients and tools, made me focus. I think I appreciated the biscuits more than anyone else. I was reminded that the point is to be a baker; not master the bakery or tame all the wheat, on any one given day. I think even the goddess Demeter would agree.
If it is any comfort, baking is best done slower, done carefully, and meticulously. The results tell all. No one misses the extra stuff you didn’t bake or cook, or the table setting you really had in mind, or the grand plans that were as much about impressing them as it was about feeding anyone. What they see before them, IS the only reality they need know. So is the reality of you being really present with them; happy and part of the gathering, not frantic with lofty goals of a churning master from within. Calm is good; not multi-tasking and heavens forbid, multi-baking.
Bon appetit, happy baking, peace in the kitchen, peace in sports,
Wheat Siren, Writer, Host,
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, ‘I’ve 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.
- March 2018 A Note From Marcy - March 2018
- February 2018 A Note from Marcy - February 2018
- December 2017 A Note from Marcy - December 2017
- November 2017 A Note from Marcy - November 2017
- October 2017 A Note from Marcy - October 2017
- September 2017 A Note from Marcy - September 2017
- August 2017 A Note from Marcy - August 2017
- July 2017 A Note from Marcy - July 2017
- June 2017 A Note from Marcy - June 2017
- May 2017 A Note from Marcy - May 2017
- April 2017 A Note from Marcy - April 2017
- March 2017 A Note from Marcy - March 2017
- February A Note from Marcy - February 2017
- Betterbaking.com 2017 All Recipes Listing - January 2017
- January 2017 A Note from Marcy - January 2017
- Winter 2016 BB Best Gifts Round-Up - December 2016
- December 2016 A Note from Marcy - December 2016
- November 2016 A Note from Marcy - November 2016
- October 2016 A Note from Marcy - October 2016
- September 2016 A Note from Marcy - September 2016
- August 2016 A Note from Marcy - August 2016
- July 2016 A Note from Marcy - June 2016
- June 2016 A Note from Marcy - June 2016
- May 2016 A Note from Marcy - May 2016
- April 2016 A Note from Marcy - April 2016
- March 2016 A Note from Marcy - March 2016
- February 2016 A Note from Marcy - February 2016
- January 2016 A Note from Marcy - January 2016
- December 2015 A Note from Marcy - December 2015
- November 2015 A Note from Marcy - November 2015
- September 2015 A Note from Marcy - September 2015
- August 2015 A Note from Marcy - August 2015
- July 2015 A Note from Marcy - July 2015
- June 2015 A Note from Marcy - June 2015
- May 2015 A Note from Marcy - May 2015
- April 2015 A Note from Marcy - April 2015
- March 2015 A Note from Marcy - March 2015
- February 2015 A Note from Marcy - February 2015
- January 2015 A Note from Marcy - January 2015
- December 2014 A Note from Marcy - December 2014
- November 2014 A Note From Marcy - November 2014
- October A Note from Marcy - October 2014
- September 2014 A Note from Marcy - September 2014
- August 2014 A Note from Marcy - August 2014
- July 2014 A Note from Marcy - July 2014
- June 2014 A Note from Marcy - June 2014
- May 2014 A Note from Marcy - May 2014
- April 2014 A Note from Marcy - April 2014
- March 2014 A Note from Marcy - March 2014
- February 2014 A Note from Marcy - February 2014
- January 2014 A Note from Marcy - January 2014
- December 2013 A Note from Marcy - December 2013
- November 2013 A Note from Marcy - November 2013
- October 2013 A Note from Marcy - October 2013
- September 2013 A Note from Marcy - September 2013
- August 2013 A Note from Marcy - August 2013
- July 2013 A Note from Marcy - July 2013
- June 2013 A Note from Marcy, Baker's Stash - June 2013
- May 2013 A Note from Marcy - May 2013
- April 2013 A Note from Marcy Baker's Stash - April 2013
- March 2013 A Note from Marcy - March 2013
- February 2013 A Note from Marcy - February 2013
- January 2013 A Note from Marcy - January 2013
- December 2012 A Note from Marcy - December 2012
- November 2012 A Note from Marcy - November 2012
- October 2012 A Note from Marcy - October 2012
- September 2012 A Note from Marcy - September 2012
- August 2012 A Note from Marcy Baker's Stash - August 2012
- July 2012 A Note from Marcy Baker's Stash - July 2012
- May 2012 A Note from Marcy - May 2012
- April 2012 Note from Marcy, Baker's Stash - April 2012
- March 2012 A Note From Marcy - March 2012
- February 2012 A Note from Marcy - February 2012
- January 2012 A Note from Marcy - January 2012
- December 2011 A Note from Marcy, Baker's Stash - December 2011
- November 2011 Note from Marcy Bakers Stash - November 2011
- October 2011 Note From Marcy Baker's Stash - October 2011
- September 2011 A Note from Marcy - September 2011
- August 2011 (1) Note From Marcy - August 2011
- June 2011 Note from Marcy - June 2011
- May 2011 A Note from Marcy, Baker's Stash - May 2011
- March 2011 A Note From Marcy - March 2011
- February 2011 A Note From Marcy, Baker's Stash - February 2011
- January 2011 A Note from Marcy - January 2011
- December 2010 Baker's Stash - December 2010
- November 2010 Baker's Stash - November 2010
- October 2010 Note from Marcy & Baker's Stash - October 2010
- September 2010 Note from Marcy & Baker's Stash - September 2010
- August 2010 Baker's Stash - August 2010
- July 2010 Baker's Stash, A Note from Marcy - July 2010
- June 2010 Baker's Stash - June 2010
- April 2010 BAKER'S STASH - April 2010
- March 2010 Baker's Stash, A Note From Marcy - March 2010
- 2003-2007 PAST ISSUES Note from Marcy & Recipes - February 2010
- January 2010 Baker's Stash - January 2010
- December 2009 Baker's Stash - December 2009
- September 2009 Baker's Stash - September 2009
- April 2009 Bakers Stash - April 2009
- March 2009 Baker's Stash Baking With Mom, Feminist in the Kitchen and some Retro - March 2009
- February 2009 Baker's Recipe Stash - February 2009
- January 2009 Baker's Stash - January 2009
- December 2008 Baker's Stash - December 2008
- November 2008 A Note From Marcy - November 2008
- September 2008 Baker's Stash - September 2008
- A note from Marcy - December 2007
- A Note from Marcy - February 2007 - An Oreo Love Affair
- A Note from Marcy - January 2007 - When Bakers Cook, Recipes deChef
- A Note from Marcy - December 2006 - Shortbread and Other Favorite Things
- A Note from Marcy - November 2006 - Thank Goodness for Pie
- A Note from Marcy - October 2006 - A Salute to Chocolate Chip Cookies
- A Note from Marcy - September 2006 - The Back to School Carrot Cake Issue
- A Note From Marcy - August 2006 - The Sourdough Magic Issue
- A Note from Marcy - July 2006 - The Annual BB Picnic Issue
- A Note from Marcy - June 2006 - The Bountiful Berry Issue
- A Note from Marcy - May 2006 - Pride and Pastry or Tea With Jane
- A Note from Marcy - April 2006 - The Breakfast Baking Issue and Fresh Starts
- A Note from Marcy March 2006 Passion - Gettin' Some - March 2006 - Havana A Heat Wave, Baking with A Latin Beat and The Passion Play
- A Note from Marcy - February 2006 - Memoirs of A Geisha Baking, Valentine’s Sweets
- A Note from Marcy - January 2006 - The You're Toast, A Salute To Slicing Loaves and More
- A Note from Marcy - December 2005 - Bake It Forward, Gift Baking Issue
- A Note from Marcy - November 2005 - Open Hearth Hosting or Guess Who's Coming For Dinner
- A Note from Marcy - October 2005 - It All Happens for a Reason or Sometimes Bread Just Doesn't Rise.....
- A Note from Marcy - September 2005 - Baking By the Code
- A Note from Marcy - August 2005 - The Tao of Pie
- A Note from Marcy - July 2005 - The Journey of the Journal plus Twix Bars!
- A Note from Marcy - June 2005 - A Pastry Chefs Trial by Cheesecakes
- A Note from Marcy - May 2005 - The Frontier Baking Issue/Living Big in a Small Venue
- A Note from Marcy - April 2005 - When Harry Met Salad
- A Note from Marcy - March 2005 - Baking with an Irish Broque; A Romance in the Dairy Queen One Fine March
- A Note from Marcy - February 2005 - She Just Doesn’t Get Him, Valentine’s Day Rebuttal and Cupcakes Galore
- A Note from Marcy - January 2005 - The Art of Changing and Making Space in a New Year
- A Note from Marcy - December 2004 - The Shall We Dance or Shall We Bake, Holiday Baking Issue and an Ode to Dance
- A Note from Marcy - November 2004 - The Bread and Soup Issue and How A Canadian Became Americanized (sort of)
- A Note from Marcy - October 2004 - The Field of Dreams Issue, Baseball and the Baker
- A Note from Marcy - September 2004 - The Catcher of the Rye Issue, What Falls Away, the Sweet Taste of Forgiveness and Letting Go
- A Note from Marcy - July 2004 - The Gone Fishin’ Issue/Summer in the River City, A Baker’s Musical
- A Note from Marcy - June 2004 - The All That Jazz Issue, How To Scat and Improvise in Wheat
- A Note from Marcy - May 2004 - The Bread and Roses Issue, Goddess, Feminist or Feminine…and Fudge
- A Note from Marcy - April 2004 - Waiting for Happy, or If I Won the Lotto
- A Note from Marcy - March 2004 - Meet You in the Bookstore, My Love Affair with Books
- A Note from Marcy - February 2004 - Sweets for the Sweet, a Valentine From the Baker
- A Note from Marcy - January 2004 - How To Eat Right or Resolution 2004 – How Not To Diet
- A Note From Marcy - December 2003 - The Sugar and Spice Issue
- A Note from Marcy - November 2003 - How To Weather the Weather, or Keeping Cozy in Late Fall
- A Note from Marcy - October 2003 (Part 2) - They Laughed When I Got Up To Bake, Hotel School Trials
- A Note from Marcy - September 2003 - Welcome To Wheatland, a baker’s fantasy or Camelot in Flour
- A Note from Marcy - October 2003 (Part 1) - How I Got Into Baking, A Baker’s Beginnings Part 1
- A Note from Marcy - August 2003 - Notes on Homemade Krispie Kreme Doughnuts
- A Note From Marcy - July 2003 - Memories of Summer Music Camp or Baking to Birdland
- A Note From Marcy - June 2003 - How to Play Hooky in Summer, An Urban Adventure
- April 2011 A Note from Marcy, Baker's Stash
- October 2008 Baker's Stash
- May 2010 Baker's Stash
- Archived A Note from Marcy 2003 - 2017
- February 2009 Issue Baking by Heart Copy
- March 2009 Baker's Recipe Stash
- April 2009 Baker's Stash
- Archived Newsletters, A Note from Marcy 2004 - 2017
- 2003-2009 Note from Marcy Archives
- May 2017 Big Product Review Feature
- February 2009 Baker's Stash
- Karine Joncas Cosmetics