Archive for the ‘CONTESTS’ Category

From Canada to Holland…Christmas Wishes Across the Miles

Happy Christmas, Madelief!

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!  ~Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836

November Greetings,

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been a little lazy with the blog lately – so much has been going on here and it’s been hard to find the time most days. I was in Toronto last week (I’ll tell you a little about that next post), and this week I’m trying to gather myself to do all that is needed to be done around here readying for the holidays (including a small reno).  And, of course, we are gearing up for a fundraiser, “A Christmas Tea for Lucas” on December 11th. We are really looking forward to it – but more about that later, too.  There’s so much to tell!

When I realized the date on the calendar (yikes! time is flying by), I thought I’d better hurry up and post about my blog give-away.

Thank you all for your lovely comments.  When I first announced the give-away in October, I was celebrating reaching upwards of 15,000 visits, and already we are climbing to 20,000 quickly.  I can’t thank you all enough for caring and your interest to take time out of the precious moments in your own day to stop in for a visit. Your comments keep me motivated and lift my spirits always, no matter what is on the day’s agenda.  Thank you for this!

Well, I am thrilled to tell you (if you haven’t already guessed by the top line of this post) that Madelief is the lucky winner of my special give-away. She has a beautiful blog and I hope you will visit here to learn about her wonderful life in the Netherlands.

I am about to post Madelief’s gift in the mail to her.  I am hoping that it arrives in time for her family’s celebration of Sinter Klaas – the Dutch exchange gifts on December 5th. Madelief tells me it is after this celebration, that her Christmas decorating will begin in earnest.  Madelief’s decorating style is minimalist – very sophisticated and  stunningly gorgeous!

The festive contents of my holiday give-away to Madelief include a set of four quality linen table napkins in the most fantastic cherry-red colour I’ve ever come across, festively printed paper napkins (love the vibrant bird and flowers on these), a box of delicious Rogers Victorian creams, a set of four tins of hot chocolate in a variety of flavours (in a sweet series of collector tins) and a darling little porcelain ‘Peace’ star to wish upon and hang anywhere your heart desires…It was so much fun gathering these items for this special give-away!

Congrats Madelief!  I hope you enjoy your holiday gift!  I have never before posted anything to the Netherlands and am curious to know how long it will take to arrive to you all the way from Newfoundland, Canada to Rotterdam! We’ll be tracking the parcel all the way until it arrives in Holland, and it will be so interesting to see its path…

Do you know the intriguing story of Canada’s relationship with Holland?  The post JOYFUL FALL BULBS will give you some idea…

For those of you who know me personally, you know that it has been a long-time dream of mine to visit Europe in early December to tour the enchanting Christmas markets there. Sigh. I have had this dream since I first read about the Christmas markets when I was just a little girl. I hope one day it will come true…

I hope you enjoy the photos of these little Christmas treasures.

Wishing you all a beautiful week ahead.  Thanks again for visiting!




be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!  ~Author Unknown



Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much.  For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbours build their philosophy of life…  ~ A. J. Cronin

Greetings Everyone,

I’m glad you’re here, as always!  You may recall that it wasn’t all that long ago (February ) that I was thrilled to have reached 1,000 visits. I can hardly believe that in the days since then, I am approaching a new milestone of 15,000 visits to my teeny blog! 🙂

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy life to stop by and visit and to share.

I am thrilled to have met and connected with so many wonderful people through blogging. I’ve made some new friends, and it has opened up new doors in many ways.

Your kind and encouraging comments have been nothing less than awesome. I so appreciate and am thankful for every visit and subscription, and each comment that you have left.

IT’S TIME TO SAY “THANK YOU”  If you visit during the month of October, please be sure and leave a comment to let me know that you were here. Your name will be entered for the surprise give-away.  Rest assured, it will be something beautiful!

Here are the many ways in which your name can be entered (more than once):

Throughout the entire month of October, your name can be entered once for each of the following actions:

1) If you haven’t done so already, when you sign up (in the right hand column on the blog site) to be notified of new posts, your name will be automatically entered in the draw.

2) When you comment on any blog post, your name will be automatically entered every time you leave a comment.  You can comment as often as you want on as many posts as you want. Current and older posts are listed in the sidebar.

3) Forward the blog address (https://beautifulideas.wordpress.comto someone (or everyone) in your address book, and your name will be entered once for every person with whom you’ve kindly shared the blog.

IMPORTANT:  In order for your name to be entered each time for sharing the blog address, be sure to let me know the name(s) of all the people with whom you shared. Otherwise, I won’t know! I’ll then be able to watch for their sign-ups and/or comments and know that you referred them.  You can let me know about it via this email address:

4) Share a post directly from the blog site with someone. Again, be sure to let me know that you shared via this email address:

5) When any person with whom you’ve shared the blog address subscribes, your name (as well as theirs), will be entered.

6) When someone with whom you shared comments on a blog post,  your name (as well as theirs), will be entered.

PLEASE NOTE: The contest closes on October 31, 2011 at 12 midnight NST (Newfoundland Standard Time).  The winning name will be drawn at random and the winner will be notified by email.  If the winner does not respond to email notification within 72 hours, an alternate winner will be randomly drawn.  

Come back soon to learn more about the ‘Beautiful Gift’ that you could win. Wishing you a beautiful day and good luck!


Categories: CONTESTS

New Contest!!! You Could Win a Duo of Beautiful Red House Soups…

Beautiful News, Friends!

Throughout the entire month of June, your name can be entered (several times) to win a pair of delicious Red House Soups delivered to your home or office – Thank you to the lovely Carolyn Norberg, Red House Soups’ owner/operator/expert soup maker!  (See the post, “About Soup” – A Bowlful of Soulful.  A Beautiful Chat with Carolyn Norberg of Red House Soups from her Flatrock, Newfoundland ‘Soup Kitchen’).  Yay!

Your name can be entered once for each of the following actions:

1) If you haven’t done so already, when you sign up (i.e. subscribe) on the blog site to be notified of new posts, your name will be automatically entered in the draw.

2) And, when you comment on any blog post, your name will be automatically entered every time you leave a comment.

3) Forward the blog address (https://beautifulideas.wordpress.comto someone (or everyone) in your address book, and your name will be entered once for every person with whom you’ve kindly shared the blog.

IMPORTANT:  In order for your name to be entered each time for sharing the blog address, be sure to let me know the name(s) of all the people with whom you shared. Otherwise, I won’t know! I’ll then be able to watch for their sign-ups and/or comments and know that you referred them.  You can let me know about it via this email address:                    
4) Share a post directly from the blog site with someone. Again, be sure to let me know that you shared via this email address:                                                                                                                                                                            
5) When any person with whom you’ve shared the blog address subscribes, your name (as well as theirs), will be entered.
6) When someone with whom you shared, comments on a blog post your name (as well as theirs), will be entered.

The contest closes on June 30, 2011 at 12 midnight NST (Newfoundland Standard Time).  The winning name will be drawn at random and the winner will be notified by email.  If the winner does not respond to email notification within 72 hours, an alternate winner will be randomly drawn.  The contest is open to readers only in the delivery area of Red House Soups (refer to their website for details).  

As you can see, there are lots of opportunities between now and the end of the month to have your name entered more than once! Best of luck!

Wishing you a beautiful day,


Categories: CONTESTS

ABOUT SOUP, ‘A BOWLFUL OF SOULFUL’…A ‘Beautiful Chat’ with Red House Soups’ Carolyn Norberg

Welcome, Dear Friends!

Hmm…It still ‘smells like winter’ with chicken soup (and dumplings) simmering on the stovetop –  there’s something about a pot of soup cooking gently on the stove that makes the house all cozy and heartwarming.  You’re just in time to fill your bowl or cup 🙂  And, as always, the teapot’s on. Today I have a fascinating treat for you – a special interview with Carolyn Norberg of Red House Soups! It’s time to pull up your favourite chair…

‘SOUPER HERO’   First, let’s talk a little ‘About Soup’…What words come to mind when you think of soup? Nourishing.  Restorative.   Nurturing.  Happiness (good soup, that is). Spiritual – think of all those ‘Chicken Soup For The Soul’ books!  And, what does soup mean to you?!

There is a sense of physical satisfaction from a warm bowlful  of soup, as well as an emotional one – wouldn’t you agree?  Soup is especially comforting on a chilly, damp day (like it is here today). Our mothers feed us soup as a gesture of love. Soup feels safe and comforting to us.  Soup is mystical; once thought to have transformative powers – even today soup is still believed to possess ‘healing powers’ and frequently touted as medicinal, acclaimed to cure everything from the common cold to uplifting our moods. People turn to soup when they are feeling ill or depressed.

Soup is social and welcoming.  When we gather people where we live, we sometimes put a boiler of soup on the stove  to ‘warmly’ welcome family and friends, and even strangers, into our homes and to feed them. Soup can be a poor man’s meal or an elegant starter to a dinner for kings – a great example of this is in a previous post “Impress Your Guests with this Wonderful Winter Soup”.

Soup makes for a thoughtful and caring gift for a senior, someone who is ill, or just to let someone know that you are thinking of them. My own mother adores soup – she is near 83 and enjoys soup at least once a day.  Her 77 and 87 year-old sisters frequently bring her their homemade soups. Soup is the ultimate ‘Thinking of You’ gift…

“Only the pure of heart can make good soup.” Beethoven

During the Great Depression, "soup kitchens" fed the unemployed. This particular soup kitchen was sponsored by the Chicago gangster Al Capone. Who knew?!

EMPTY BOWLS During the days of ‘The Great Depression’, soup kitchens seemingly sprung up everywhere. They served, for the most part, only soup and bread – you probably have seen the iconic images (similar to the one at the right) of folks lined up to eat…for many, it was the only meal of the day.

Although the numbers of ‘soup kitchens’ may have declined, they remain throughout our communities in various forms, some distributing groceries and/or serving hot meals on specific days (rather than every day of the week).

There is support for those who ‘fill up their bowls’ at  food-sharing organizations, shelters and soup kitchens.  (Some of you may remember my post about Amazing Apple Cake and Street Reach). One local high school recently started a ‘Soup Club’ and regularly cooks up large pots of soups and delivers them to Street Reach, an amazing organization that helps street-entrenched, at-risk youth. On St. Patrick’s Day, when I was delivering some Apple Cake to Street Reach, they had just received from the students a huge pot of beef stew to serve to its clients.  Bravo!

SOUP IS ‘HOPE’  Soup is sustaining and, perhaps just as importantly, soup is symbolic. Soup gives a sense of relief, a sense of hope…

DID YOU KNOW? In March last year, food banks helped a record 867,948 people across the country (Source:  According to our local Community Food Sharing Association, there are 32,000 people who live in our province who don’t have enough to eat – 60% of families who access food banks are families with children. At the top of the organization’s grocery shopping guide for those wishing to donate food, is……Yep, you guessed it – SOUP.

Soup is a meal in itself.  Soup is nutritious.  Soup is convenient.  Soup is economical, too.

Canned Soup & Stew
Peanut Butter
Canned Beans
Macaroni & Cheese
Dried Pasta, Noodles & Rice
Pasta Sauce
Canned Meat & Fish
Beans & Legumes
Canned Vegetables & Fruit
Canned/Powdered Milk
Breakfast Cereal
Baking Supplies


Whenever I think of Red House Soups, I imagine Carolyn Norberg (company founder, owner and expert soup maker) driving a tiny sporty red convertible, wearing a blousy red cape with a generous hood tied around her shoulders; and lengths of brown wavy hair flowing straight behind her in the wind. The  back seat is piled high-to-the-sky with layers of wicker picnic baskets containing bottles upon bottles of her delicious and restorative homemade soups.  While Carolyn may not be on her way to grandma’s house,  she caters to her customers’ needs the old-fashioned way, and personally delivers her tasty soups – in a modest van – directly to the homes and offices of her thankful and loyal customers.  They look forward to that familiar knock on the door and seeing Carolyn’s smiling face, her arms filled with mason jars of yummy soup ordered on-line through her website!

RED HOUSE SOUPS celebrated its first year of success recently.  Weekly soup menus of several varieties are posted each Monday and customers have until Thursday to make their choices for delivery the following week.  Prices are very reasonable (each mason jar contains three servings) and range from $10 and up per jar.  Soups can keep up to three days in the refrigerator and many varieties can be frozen.  They sell out fast – sometimes within mere hours of posting the new menu – so it’s wise not to delay selecting your soups. Deliveries are made Wednesdays and Thursdays depending on the area in which you live.  Carolyn sometimes makes several hundred jars of soup weekly.  Sign up to receive her fantastic menus at Red House Soups.  Soup varieties have included:

  • Beef and Wild Rice (with squash and turnips)
  • Curried Cream of Carrot
  • Mixed Bean, Squash and Espresso Chili
  • Creamy Chickpea (with Carrots and Rosemary)
  • Lamb Tagine
  • Red Potato Soup (with Feta and Lemon)
  • Cream of Cauliflower, Corn and Cheddar
  • Sausage Minestrone
  • Hot and Sour (with pork, mushrooms and tofu)
  • Old Fashioned Chicken
  • Mulligatawny
  • Asparagus and Spinach with Fresh Basil
  • Cod Chowder
  • Onion (with Garlic Scapes)
  • Coconut and Cashew Stew
  • Malaysian Chicken
  • Moroccan Beef Stew
  • Mexican Red Bean
  • Cranberry, Black Bean and Sausage Chili

While I am refilling you teacup, won’t you pull up your chair to the table as I chat with Carolyn, the creative genius behind this lovely-spirited entrepreneurial endeavour.  Carolyn runs her flavourful and unconventional business out of her home kitchen in the petite scenic community of Flatrock, Newfoundland situated near the famous East Coast Trail. Carolyn’s unique soup operation originated from her desire to have a satisfying career doing something she truly loves balanced with the need for gainful employment.  Thus, Red House Soups was born!

Carolyn's red salt-box styled, two-story near the water's edge where she creates mouth-watering gourmet soups in her fully-equipped commercial kitchen.


LINDA:  What is your first ‘soup memory’?

CAROLYN:  My first soup memory is of my grandfather dicing turnips for soup into perfectly even pieces and getting mad at anyone who tried to help.  My grandfather never cooked until he retired from fishing and he quickly acted as if he had been cooking his whole life.  Fresh Meat Soup was his speciality.   From what I recall, it was good.

LINDA:  When did you make your first pot of soup?

CAROLYN:  The first pot of soup I made was a chicken soup for grandmother.   She was dying of cancer.   I decided to make her soup.  She couldn’t really eat it but I know she appreciated it.

LINDA:  Who taught you how to make soup?

CAROLYN:  I taught myself to cook.   I didn’t grow up in a family that cooked much besides traditional dishes.  However, there are stories of my great-grandmother pickling cauliflower with turmeric in rural Newfoundland which was pretty adventurous in her day.

My real passion for cooking began in university.   I had a boyfriend who liked to cook and we learned from each other.  This passion was strengthened when I moved to Flatrock in 1995.   During that time, I stayed with a couple who cooked everything from scratch.   They had a vegetable garden, fished and hunted and picked berries.   The first meal I ate with them was moose burritos, from a moose they had killed and butchered, and they were making their own flour tortillas, and I thought it was exotic.

LINDA:  What’s your favourite homemade soup and the memory tied to it?

CAROLYN:    It’s difficult to pick a favourite.  I love anything with potato.  I also love Avgolémono which is a Greek lemon soup and Cream of Onion.

LINDA:  Do any of your ‘Red House Soups’ creations come from childhood memories?

CAROLYN:  Only  in the sense that they’re the opposite of what I ate growing up.

LINDA:  What does soup mean to you?

CAROLYN:  Love, comfort and sharing.


LINDA:  What was your job before you began ‘Red House Soups’?

CAROLYN:  I was an English Teacher, Computer Programmer and a Writer (Poetry & Short Fiction).  I also worked as a Caterer.

LINDA:  What was the impetus behind ‘Red House Soups’?

CAROLYN:  I had been catering on and off and wanted to take things to the next level.  Plus, I was tired of working for other people.

LINDA:  How did you come to start a soup-delivery business?

CAROLYN:  I knew I wanted to do something original and thought it was best to focus on one thing and do it well.  I’ve always been good at making soup and one day the idea just came.   I googled it and learned that others had been successful doing similar things.  I had actually written business plans for other business concepts – this was the third one and my gut told me it was the right one.   So I applied for funding and my father lent me money to put a commercial kitchen in the back of my house.

LINDA:  Where do your inspirations come from for your soup recipes?

CAROLYN:  Ideas and recipes come from many places.  It helps to be fearless in the kitchen.  What’s the worst thing that can happen?   I also read a lot of cookbooks.   But I never follow a recipe.

LINDA:  Would you say making soup is a creative or even inventive process?

CAROLYN:  Yes, but I don’t think anyone should take themselves too seriously.

LINDA:  How do you decide which soups to offer each week?

CAROLYN:  I try to create a balance.  If I do a Mexican soup one week, I won’t do another Mexican soup for awhile.    I listen to which soups my customers want repeated.  Sometimes it depends on what I’m in the mood to make.  During late summer and fall, I like to choose soups based on what is in season.

LINDA:  Are you ever asked to make large batches of soup as custom orders?

CAROLYN:  Yes, but I don’t usually do it as I’m so busy.

LINDA:  What’s the most unusual ‘soup request’ you’ve ever had?

CAROLYN:  To make a soup using Edamame.  I would love to do it but Edamame is not an ingredient I can get a large amount of.

LINDA:  Which came first: the name ‘Red House Soups’, or the paint colour of your house?

CAROLYN:  The house was red first.


LINDA:  Describe your ‘soup kitchen’.

CAROLYN:  I have a separate licensed kitchen in the back of my house.  The kitchen is set up like any other commercial operation – stainless steel and a gas stove.  There are two large refrigerators –one with glass doors to store the soup in.  The kitchen is painted red and yellow to match the company colours.

LINDA:  Do you have any vintage kitchen tools that you love?

CAROLYN:  I love my potato ricer.

LINDA:  Do you prefer to serve your soups in bowls or cups?

CAROLYN:  Depends on the situation.

LINDA:  Do you have a collection of soup tureens or ladles?

CAROLYN:  I actually don’t.  I do have a collection of soup pots, though.

LINDA:  Do people tend to give you soup tureens and/or other soup-related items as gifts?

CAROLYN:  No, actually they don’t.


LINDA:  How do you choose your soup ingredients?

CAROLYN:  I look at what I can get that is fresh and go from there.  Or, I have a soup in mind and I call around until I can find the right supplier for the ingredients.

LINDA:  Do you use only fresh, seasonal produce?

CAROLYN:  I would love to but it isn’t possible.  Late summer and fall is the best time for local produce and, during that time, I try to develop soups that highlight those ingredients.   Last year, we had a special fall harvest menu that featured local produce (squash, beet, and turnip) from three local farmers.  It was a popular menu and we hope to do the same thing this year.

LINDA:  Do you cultivate your own produce?  Or, do you obtain produce from local farmers?

CAROLYN:  I have a very small garden.  I wish I had more time to devote to it.  I do have a local farm in Flatrock that I get some produce from.  Gerhard and Frederique are going to be growing zucchinis and beets for me.  I also give all our vegetable cuttings to them for their sheep.  I get turnips from a farmer in Torbay, and last year I did a squash soup from the Organic Farm in Portugal cove.

LINDA:  Do people contact you about the things they grow in their gardens that they think you might be able to use as ingredients for your soups?

CAROLYN:  Yes, I had a woman who called last year wanting to sell rhubarb.  At the time, I didn’t have a use for it but I think this year I will make a rhubarb soup.

LINDA:  I read that your friend challenged you to develop a soup recipe using the lovage that she had been growing in her garden. Were you able to meet her challenge?

CAROLYN:  Yes, I ended up making a creamy soup with potato, green peas and lovage that was quite lovely.  I will be featuring it again this year.


LINDA:  Do you enjoy the smell of soup simmering on the stove?

CAROLYN:  Yes, and it’s a good thing—the smell is forever embedded in the walls of my house.

LINDA:  What is your family’s favourite soup? Do they taste-test your recipes?

CAROLYN:  My boyfriend taste-tests and his favourite is Apricot Lentil.  My mother likes Tortilla, my father likes Old Fashioned Chicken, my sister likes Cauliflower, Corn & Cheddar, and my grandmother who is 94 loves them all.

LINDA:  What do you consider to be your best soup recipe?

CAROLYN:  I’m proud of coming up with Apple, Turnip and Brie and Blueberry Beet.  These are soups I developed to highlight local ingredients.

LINDA:  What would you say is the most popular soup(s) among your customers?

CAROLYN:  Everyone seems to have a different favourite.


LINDA:  ‘Red House Soups’ are delivered in attractive, glass mason jars that are returnable and refillable.  How do you encourage customers to avail of this option?

CAROLYN:  Pretty much it’s an honour system.  Mostly people are good at returning the jars and they’re encouraged because they’re recycling.  If someone knows they want to keep the jar, then I charge them for it; otherwise they can return it when they order again.

LINDA:  Are there other ways in which Red House Soups is attempting to be ‘Green’?

CAROLYN:  We give our vegetable cuttings to a farmer for his sheep.  We also have our website hosted with a company that offers green web site hosting.


LINDA:  The gift of soup is such a ‘beautiful thing’.  Can customers purchase ‘soup gift certificates’ or arrange gifts of soup for delivery?

CAROLYN:  Yes, they can contact me to make arrangements.

LINDA:  How can people contact you at Red House Soups?

CAROLYN: / Email:

LINDA:  Do you have a recipe that you can share with ‘Beautiful Ideas’ friends and readers?



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons cognac (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups of turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 cups of chicken stock (preferably homemade), add more if needed
  • 2 cups of quality brie, rind removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Pinch of sea salt and pepper
  • Heat oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.  Add onions.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.
  • Turn heat to low.  Add apples.  Cook for another 3-5 minutes until onions have softened and apples released their juice.
  • Add garlic, cognac  and thyme.  Cook for another minute or until cognac evaporates.
  • Add the stock, turnip and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil.  Turn down heat and simmer until turnip is softened 20-30 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and remove bay leaf.  Add the cubed brie and purée until smooth (using a hand immersion blender) if possible.
  • If desired, add more stock to achieve preferred consistency.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Can be served hot, cold or at room temperature.
  • Or, turn this soup into a dessert:  Pour soup into individual bowls for serving (best at room temperature).  Top each soup with 2 tablespoons of candied pecans, a handful of blueberries and 2 tablespoons of warm maple syrup!!!!

Many thanks to Carolyn for chatting with us about Red House Soups and for providing this glorious soup recipe for everyone to enjoy!  If you try Carolyn’s wonderful recipe, please let us know how it turns out…And I will be ordering more of Carolyn’s soups very soon!!!  You’ll have to order for yourself to find out just how great her soups are.  They make a wonderful gift, too!




Marcy Goldman, Master Baker/Pastry Chef and Best-selling Cookbook Author PHOTO CREDIT: Whitecap Books Ltd. / Ryan Szluc, Toronto, Canada



WELCOME, welcome my friends!  The tea is ready!  I am so excited that you have chosen to stop by today of all days.  And, oh, what a beautiful day it is!  I promise that you are truly going to enjoy this visit.  We have a very special guest with us – I cannot wait for you to meet this amazing woman…

MEET MARCY It is my absolute pleasure to introduce to you Marcy Goldman!  Many of you may already know Marcy through her thoughtful and beautiful bestselling cookbooks, her yummy international food columns and her expert and entertaining guest appearances on Martha Stewart Living, Sirius Radio.

Bitten by the ‘baking/writing bug’ at a very young age, Marcy’s interest in such admirable pursuits may well have been considered somewhat unusual at the tender age of 7 when she first dedicated herself to taking over the family kitchen and started her own street newspaper at age 12.  From what I’ve learned about Marcy, she must have been very much in her element, and extraordinarily capable even then, in both disciplines that would become her true calling later in life. It seems as if she was born unto it.  Her devout passion for both “wheat and words” (to borrow a phrase from Marcy’s own ‘lips’) seems to have sustained her well throughout her entire adulthood.

"A Passion for Baking", Marcy Goldman, 2007, Oxmoor House, Inc.

“A PASSION FOR BAKING” Marcy graduated from McGill University with a degree major in English Literature, although she perhaps always knew deep down in her heart of hearts, that what she really wanted was to be a professional baker/pastry chef. In following her dream, she subsequently – and perhaps courageously – enrolled in a three-year professional pastry chef program at Quebec Hotel School (Quebec Hotel School-L’institut Tourisme et d’Hotellerie de Quebec), Montreal.  To become a master pastry chef is not a career for the faint of heart after all. An even temperament, patience, discipline, determination, love for detail, and stamina – lots of stamina – are just some of the characteristics required of a master baker.

Since her days at Quebec Hotel School, Marcy hasn’t wasted any time building her career. She has skillfully, mindfully, and clearly successfully, combined her love of writing with her love of baking much to the delight of her many fans worldwide. There is something to be said for finding – and honestly acknowledging – one’s career passion earlier, rather than later, in life.

Marcy appears to have adeptly figured out ‘the recipe for success’ early on and openly embraced it.  She confessed to me, however, that she, in fact, did not have some magical formula – a master plan –  for a fast-track to reaching her professional goals. “The truth is, it was all serendipitous.  I had no idea, no career path at all.  I was thwarted in becoming a writer early on  – nothing to write, no one would hire me, and I got fired from clerical work all the time. The only response was to DO something.  And, so I went to my alter/second skill and love which was baking. But it’s totally luck and obliviousness and a fear of unemployment that had me trip from one thing to another. It’s only in retrospect, or to someone else looking in, that it seems like a master plan.”

Quite simply, what is true is that when a person loves what they do, it shines through in their work.  This is certainly true in Marcy’s case.  And, she has perceptibly managed to graciously embrace her passion authentically, all the while surviving the tentative publishing world and managing her busy family life while raising three active young sons, for the most part, as a single parent.  She is truly one determined and inspiring woman.

Since the day she applied to pastry school, taking a brave new footpath in her career, she has published several bestselling cookbooks:  A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking” (nominated for a Julia Child Cookbook Award), The Best of” (as well as The New Best of”) and “A Passion for Baking”.

I own copies of Marcy’s latter two publications and they are most certainly outstanding books, spilling over with WOW-ing! mouth-watering recipes and gorgeous glossy photos.  Even if you don’t happen to be a baker girl, you’ll love Marcy’s cookbooks for their sheer beauty and exceptional quality. I’ve spent hours poring over them, loving time alone (just ‘Marcy and me’) on a rainy or snowy afternoon (or sometimes not) ambitiously bookmarking far too many pages… Her newest book, “The Baker’s Four Seasons”, is due out this fall, which is my most favorite time of year to bake. I can hardly wait.

PUTTING FOOD INTO WORDS If you’ve ever picked up copies of Food and Wine or Bon Appétit food and entertaining magazines, or visited them online, you’ll find Marcy there contributing her recipes and culinary wisdom.  As a renowned food journalist, she is a long-time contributor to The New York Times, The Washington PostLos Angeles Times, Cooking Light, Eating Well, Costco Connection, and more…

BLOGGING PIONEER AND VISIONARY Marcy is perhaps considered to be a pioneer and visionary in the blogging world. No matter whether the result of true-to-form vision, or a fortunate first keystroke of serendipity, she is the driving force behind, an outrageously popular on-line monthly baking magazine and newsletter launched back in 1997, (before the blogasphere exploded), offering up her fabulous original recipes, “aha” master baking hints and techniques, and answering questions posed by her loyal readers and would-be bakers.  In the early days, started out with just a few pages. It has now expanded to house an archive of over 2,500 of Marcy’s original recipes, features useful product reviews, lifestyle articles and even recommendations on music, books and scent. Its readership has grown to well over 20,000 subscribers and visitors to the site number in the millions every year (760,000 per month).

Beautiful things do seem to come in three’s for Marcy:  her sons, her cookbooks and Google has ranked among its TOP THREE baking sites – no easy feat and definitely award-worthy!!!


Unleash your inner baker with Marcy’s gorgeous bestselling books. Get them at Chapters, Costco, and on-line at Amazon. Probably among her most-famous recipes are ‘Lawsuit Muffins’, ‘Chocolate Eruption Cheesecake’, ‘Famous Carrot Cake’ and ‘Tango Cookies’…Happy Baking Everyone!


  • “A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking – The Tenth Anniversary Edition”, Marcy Goldman, Whitecap Books Ltd, (The updated edition of a kitchen classic, which includes 35 new recipes for favorite holiday dishes.) Nominated for a Julia Child Cookbook Award*.
  • “The New”, Marcy Goldman, Whitecap Books Ltd., 2009 (More than 200 classic recipes from the beloved baker’s website)
  • “A Passion for Baking”, Marcy Goldman, 2007 Oxmoor House, Inc. (Bake to celebrate.  Bake to nourish.  Bake for fun. Marcy Goldman, pastry chef and passionate home baker, shares 220 best-ever recipes)

*The Julia Child Cookbook Awards are presented annually by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), whose members worldwide represent virtually every culinary profession. IACP is dedicated to promoting the highest level of culinary professionalism.

MARCY AND MARTHA – A SWEET COMBINATION! You will also hear Marcy’s warm voice on the air waves as a regular guest on Martha Stewart Living, Sirius Radio dishing up more of her delicious recipes and expert baking secrets.







If you’re a frequent ‘Beautiful Ideas’ follower, you probably already know that you have a chance (in some cases more than one) to have your name entered in a draw in the coming month to win ‘Something Beautiful’ (NOTE:  The contest deadline has been extended to April 30th).  I’ve teased you a little these past weeks, withholding the secret as to what you might have an opportunity to win…Well, I’ll keep you in suspense no longer…

Ta-da!  One lucky reader will receive a gift of Marcy’s cookbook duo: “The New Best of” and “Passion for Baking” AND, the icing on the cake…Marcy’s gift to a lucky reader:  a subscription to her on-line baking magazine

You are truly going to love everything about this exciting gift pack! “It’s a Beautiful Thing!”




I am truly honoured that Marcy chose to take time out of her schedule to talk with me about her work and a little about herself.  She is one busy and dedicated woman!  I am still pinching myself that she generously agreed to do this interview.  Despite her celebrity status, Marcy balks at the very notion of being called a ‘celebrity’.  In my conversation with Marcy, she reveals herself to be, in fact, very much a well-grounded ‘everyday person’ who, like the rest of us scullery angels, each morning, pulls on her pant legs one at a time.  The tone and warmth of her words immediately put me at ease…

LINDA: What is your first baking memory?

MARCY: My Betty Crocker bake set perhaps –

LINDA: What was your first job?

MARCY: The Goldman Times, my own newspaper – at 12 years old.

LINDA: You are a graduate of McGill University with a degree in English Literature. Did you have an ‘epiphany moment’ wherein you made the decision to switch your career path to become a professional baker and pastry chef?

MARCY: YES – it was first – to be a writer – but I could not get into the field (usually, one freelances or does copywriting or journalism – I didn’t seem destined for those things at the outset). Then it was – if not writing – what else? I liked baking…and, so I started baking at home to order and then started supplying restaurants.  Then, pregnant with my first son, I realized I had to segue to another way to do what I was doing…And it was an epiphany one day, delivering carrot cakes and reading the Montreal Gazette food section, that I could write about food or baking.

LINDA: When did you know to pursue a career as a professional baker/pastry chef?

MARCY: Probably another pivotal moment – I was about 21 or so, newly married – at home, sick with a huge cold. The first day I felt better after being hold up for 10-14 days, I saw an ad for a free Christmas baking lesson given by Janis Gill, a baking expert and cookbook author. I went to that lesson (in a department store) and knew in an instant – this is what I wanted to, and could, do.

LINDA: Is your love of baking born of nature or more nurture?

MARCY: More nature – and, if nurture, only insofar as in my home/family of origin, it was most often a case of – if you wanted to eat, you made it yourself.  But I was often on my own as a young kid – a bit of a difficult household – and baking seemed like something creative to do.  It was also mystical to me – not (so) easy to ‘get right’ or things to work out. Unlike cooking, which seemed (to me) a no-brainer, baking was very elusive – whether it was pie dough or, heaven forbid, a ‘yeast bread’ – flour seemed like a magical substance, that if you knew what you were doing with it – it could be transformational – (and) certainly impress people with tasty things!

LINDA: Is there anyone who most influenced your career?

Caramel-Chocolate Cookie-Stuffed Sour Cream Cake, "A Passion for Baking", Marcy Goldman, Oxmoor House, 2007

MARCY: Cookbooks and cookbook authors were my ‘friends’ and companions when I was a pre-teen.  I read for ‘company’ and those voices – James Beard, Julia Child – inspired me. Then I became fascinated with the foods in the Time Life cookbook series and wanted to master each cuisine – from souffls from France, to best Southern Fried Chicken from the United States, or Quebec Sugar Pie, or best pizza from Italy.  I began to self-teach, recipe-by-recipe, technique-by-technique.

Because I am a writer myself and huge reader, it was also fiction books that inspired me. I spoke about this recently when I gave a presentation at McGill University about food writing – that even fiction – food descriptions from Steinbeck novels, to “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (the food of poverty and inventiveness, really), “City Boy” (Herman Wouk’s account in that book of a young boy becoming sick on too many French pastries whilst having a special afternoon out with his father) – just the food writing, even in a fictionalized account, stuck in my mind and sensibility – the importance of food, memory, mood, and spiritual nurturing.

One of my influences was my grandmother who lived with us.  She was blind.  A way to ‘reach her’ or connect was to ‘feed her’, or bake for her.  She was impressed no matter what tasteless, saw-dusty things I made (at first) – very loving – and we shared a special bond from the get-go.

I also, until recently, was a single parent to my three sons (I did 14 years solo…or ‘one gal/three guys’ – crazy, special experience.)  I think baking and food – even though it is/was my career – kept the home fires burning in all sorts of ways.  Lots of our best, albeit modest, family times were, and are, centered around food and the kitchen.  Our ‘best pizza-dough wars’ are still ongoing.  But my food testing, product testing, food shoots, the book deadlines – ‘seeing me at work, at home’ – has had its challenges but has also been a connective force.  Bread is anchoring in all sorts of ways. 🙂

LINDA: At what moment were you inspired to write a cookbook?

MARCY: When I realized I could do a longer ‘freelance’ article, (i.e a book) and when I didn’t see the sort of cookbooks out there that I wanted myself – as a reader.  I realized it was time to do something bigger – as intimidating as it was to me – since like all of us, I, too, admired cookbook authors as a reader – I had no idea I was on my way to becoming one myself.

LINDA: I think that we sometimes aren’t really able to comprehend the tedious, labour-intensive task of producing a cookbook. Each of yours are truly ‘works of heart’ and it is evident that much time and work goes into every one in order for you to bring them to us.  What do you enjoy most about the process of creating a beautiful cookbook?

MARCY: I have to say it is not tedious.  It does take time but it is a joy from the minute I think of a new book idea or possibility, to finding an agent or proposing the book to publishers myself, to choosing the recipes I’ve created that will ‘make the book’ (get ‘called up’ as it were to being part of a new recipe collection in a new book), to the recipe testing (with a ton of amazing volunteer testers from all over), to the writing, the copy editing back and forth with my editors, the art and photo shoot, seeing the book design… and, then, one day – a box of books arriving on my door – my ‘new book’…and seeing people enjoy it and write to tell me – Seeing the book in my local Chapters – It is a blessing to get to write a cookbook. Hard work?  Yes.  Labour intensive? Yes.  But you get to contribute something that is lasting, feeds people, brings them and their families joy (and co-workers and friends), and shifts the world a wee, wee bit at a core place. Plus, it combines my two passions:  writing AND baking…

Marcy's newest cookbook will be in bookstores this fall: “The Baker's Four Seasons”, Marcy Goldman, Harper Collins 2011 (cover, Ryan Szluc). Aside from recipes and baking expertise, the book features unique fragrant teas and scented notions for each season.

LINDA: I love how your recipe names roll off the tongue: ‘Blueberry Hill Oatmeal Cookies’, ‘City Bakery Apple-Raspberry Upside Down Cake’, ‘Apricot Sunrise Biscotti’, ‘Mr. Darcy’s Wheat Meal Scones’, ‘Village Baker’s Holiday Cranberry-Orange Bread’ *– I could go on. ‘Lawsuit Muffins’ is such a catchy and curious name.  Is there a cautionary tale behind the name, or maybe even some advice? Don’t feel obligated to answer this question.  I don’t want you to tell any secrets!  LOL

MARCY: This is about two things – maybe three. For one, at my website, I didn’t have many photos – and, so – to engage people (same is true of my freelance features – especially in newspapers – not many photos nor colour), I named things riveting titles so people would be drawn into making fabulous recipes.

Next, I am a born promoter and know a good name is the first hook. But mostly, I am so, so passionate about my recipes, their creation, history, etc. and want people to try them. So, I name them indelible things – titles that capture the imagination.

I sort of know where people ‘live’ in their heads and appetites – and to make a recipe dance off the page and court you to trying it, well, that takes a name that jumps off the page itself. ‘Wholewheat Scones’ is just scones – ‘Mr. Darcy’s Wheat Meal Scones’ captures an era, a romance, a time in history, the ceremony of scones, the glory of whole-wheat…*’Village Baker’s Holiday Bread’, etc…In a few words, you can envision what that bread is like – the sweet treat of it – the holiday feel – the gorgeous elements of cranberries and oranges…Vs; Orange Cranberry Loaf – those titles just ‘sit there’ and seem like same old, same old.  I think of each recipe I create as art  – or almost a portrait – But in the end, I am surprised myself how things like ‘Notting Hill Brownies’ or ‘Lawsuit Muffins’ become legend. It’s amazing to me that my recipes are almost trademarked by title – and reputation. That’s powerful.

LINDA: What items are among the must-haves in your pantry?

MARCY: Flour. Butter. Yeast. Sugar. Vanilla. Salt. Apples. Cinnamon. Lemons.

LINDA: Apples?! 🙂

Brittany Butter Cookies, "A Passion for Baking", Marcy Goldman, 2007 Oxmoor House, Inc.

MARCY: I love so many apple-based recipes – as do so many people.  Apples and cinnamon in pie, strudel, pancakes, muffins – it’s homey and old-fashioned…so yes, apples.

LINDA: What is the one thing that you can’t do without in your kitchen?

MARCY: Music and my rolling pin and restaurant range.

LINDA:  Is there a favorite recipe you most like to make?  That’s probably an impossible question…

MARCY: Whatever recipe I am making at the moment, but other than that…bread or pies. I love the sheer physicality of it, how grounding baking is – you get lost in it – and yet back to yourself.

LINDA: Do you develop and test all your own recipes?


LINDA: Does your family taste-test your recipes, too?


LINDA: Have you ever had a failure in the kitchen at an inopportune time?

MARCY: Not really – more so – when I’ve taught baking.

LINDA:  Do you have a favorite restaurant?

MARCY: Not really –

LINDA: Have you ever thought about opening your own restaurant?


LINDA: I’m sure it would be worth the trip to Montreal! / What is your favorite ‘take-out’ meal?

MARCY: Great pizza ….Portuguese roasted chicken

LINDA: I’ve never tasted Portuguese roasted chicken…  Do you have a recipe for that you could share?! LOL

MARCY: The recipe is on my website,

(NOTE:  Marcy has kindly offered to make her ‘Portugese Roasted Chicken’ recipe free on her website for one month for readers of ‘Beautiful Ideas’  – WATCH FOR DETAILS ON HOW YOU CAN ACCESS IT. Thanks, Marcy! :-))

LINDA: What is your favorite meal?

MARCY: Great bread, great cheese, amazing coffee.

LINDA: We share something in common!  Isn’t that called a ‘ploughman’s’ lunch?  Although ploughman’s might include apple and a pickle, which I love, too…

MARCY: YES – LOVE ploughman’s lunch and I make my own pickled onions. But I love simple, great foods – farmer’s market foods – best corn-on-the-cob – high-flavored, simple/international foods.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.   I think we can make too much of ‘fancy’ food or food as entertainment, and (we) forget the simple things – that it is about breaking bread – that people are not all eating.    There is global hunger we need take to care of  – when you put that alongside some of the excesses of food show TV, I have a hard time witnessing the disparity.

Strawberries and Cream Cookies, "A Passion for Baking", Marcy Goldman, 2007 Oxmoor House, Inc.

LINDA: Where is your hometown?

MARCY: Montreal.

LINDA: Where would be the first place you’d take a visitor to your city? And, why?

MARCY: Jean-Talon Market – because it lives and breathes food, people, and joy.

LINDA: If you would indulge me one last question, please Marcy.  For anyone (especially young students) aspiring to the profession, what part does science and history play in being a master baker?

MARCY: I think everything is richer when you understand all that goes into it. Baking is science, alchemy, art, nurturing, mechanics (hand craftmanship), as well as history in that – when you know where foods come from…or realize the wheat you bake with – hales from bible days and times and people long gone….but the same wheat was ‘blowing in the wind’ then – AND the wild yeast spores – or realize  that the fruit cake we mock is really a new edition of the bread the crusaders took with them (paneforte seems to be a precursor to modern-day fruitcake) – or that baking powder shifted the whole way we bake ever since 1860, or so – you bake in a more cohesive way with a totally different, enriched awareness.

LINDA: Merci beaucoup, Marcy – for being so nice, for the gift of the interview and the subscription to for one lucky reader!  Our ‘chat’ was, indeed, beautiful and so enjoyable –  it has been a pure pleasure to get to know you a little better! I wish you everything in life that is good and beautiful!

We’ll be looking forward to your newest cookbook, “The Baker’s Four Seasons”, to be released in Fall 2011.  And, I’m sure everyone will be checking out



(Excerpted with permission from “A Passion for Baking”, by Marcy Goldman. Published by Oxmoor House, 2007.)

*Village Baker’s Holiday Cranberry-Orange Bread

Village Baker's Holiday Cranberry-Orange Bread, "A Passion for Baking", Marcy Goldman, 2007 Oxmoor House, Inc.


  • 1/3 cup warm water (100°F to 110°F)
  • 5 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast
  • 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange oil or pure orange extract
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips or regular chocolate chips, minced

Finishing Touches:

  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch each white sugar and salt
  • White sugar, for dusting
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


Generously spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place pan on it.

In a mixer bowl, hand-whisk water and yeast together and let stand 2 to 3 minutes, to dissolve yeast.  Add 1 cup flour and then add warm milk, butter, egg, egg yolks, salt, sugar, vanilla, orange oil, and most of rest of flour.  Mix ingredients and then, using dough hook, knead on low-speed to make a soft dough, 8 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as required.

Remove dough hook, spray dough with nonstick cooking spray, and place a large clear plastic bag over entire mixer and blow.  Let dough rise 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate.  Press dough down into a flattened round and press cranberries and chocolate chips into dough, folding and incorporating as best you can – the shape doesn’t matter at this stage.

Let dough rest 15 minutes and then cut into 12 portions.  Shape each into a ball and arrange on one level in prepared pan. Whisk egg and pinch each of white sugar and salt.  Brush dough with egg wash and dust with sugar.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy and almost doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Bake bread until nicely browned, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Let cool and serve warm or at room temperature.  If making this as a gift, leave it in the pan.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar, wrap in cellophane, and tie with ribbon.


That was so much fun, wasn’t it?!   And, what a sweet treat for us all! Where has the time gone?! If you know someone who loves to bake at home, who works as a baker, or is contemplating a career as professional baker/chef, be sure to share with them this interview comprising Marcy’s thoughtful introspection and valuable insights. I hope you will let me know your thoughts on this post, especially if you acquire any of Marcy’s cookbooks, subscribe to ‘The Magazine for Bakers’ at, or try the recipe.  I look forward to your visiting again soon…

Wishing you all a beautiful day,

Linda 🙂


To Thank You!

This gorgeous rose-strewn porcelain tea set was donated by my good friend Eric as an auction prize for a fundraiser tea for shelter animals that I helped plan some years ago at The Tea Garden in Holyrood - TEA SPOTS -"PAWS FOR TEA" became Ruff-Spots Animal Welfare Foundation's signature fundraiser event. It was a beautiful day in so many ways! And what a nice way to raise funds for our furry friends. Maybe I'll tell you all about it in a post someday soon...

Beautiful News!


Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much.  For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbours build their philosophy of life…
~ A. J. Cronin

Glorious Day, Dear Friends!

Yay!  The blog that was born just short weeks ago is now one month old! A ‘1,000- hit’ milestone has been reached!   And, it’s really still in the stages of infancy.  It seems inspiration comes from everywhere these days. Who could have imagined?!

I have received cards, telephone calls, and emails – in addition to comments directly on the posts, describing your lovely thoughts about the blog!  And, I have been deeply heartened by your enormous encouragement and uplifting words.

In jubilant celebration – and to thank you all for following thus far -there are lots of opportunities in the weeks ahead for your name to be entered in a random draw to win “A Beautiful Gift”!  (I wish I could give each and every one of you a gift, but since that’s not possible this is the next best thing).

Throughout the entire month of March, your name can be entered once for each of the following actions:

1) If you haven’t done so already, when you sign up on the blog site to be notified of new posts, your name will be automatically entered in the draw.

2) When you comment on any blog post, your name will be automatically entered every time you leave a comment.

3) Forward the blog address ( to someone (or everyone) in your address book, and your name will be entered once for every person with whom you’ve kindly shared the blog.

Who says you have to fill a fountain with water?! A fountain of flowers, resplendent in the morning sun, in 'The Tea Garden', Holyrood, beckons guests to come closer. Watch for The Tea Garden's re-opening in warm, sunny June 2011...

IMPORTANT:  In order for your name to be entered each time for sharing the blog address, be sure to let me know the name(s) of all the people with whom you shared. Otherwise, I won’t know! I’ll then be able to watch for their sign-ups and/or comments and know that you referred them.  You can let me know about it via this email address:

4) Share a post directly from the blog site with someone. Again, be sure to let me know that you shared via this email address:

5) When any person with whom you’ve shared the blog address subscribes, your name (as well as theirs), will be entered.

6) When someone with whom you shared comments on a blog post,  your name (as well as theirs), will be entered.

PLEASE NOTE: The contest closes on March 31, 2011 *April 30, 2011 at 12 midnight NST (Newfoundland Standard Time).  The winning name will be drawn at random and the winner will be notified by email.  If the winner does not respond to email notification within 72 hours, an alternate winner will be randomly drawn.  The contest is open to readers in Canada and the U.S.  (Shipping costs will be covered to these destinations).

The welcoming entrance to The Tea Garden...

As you can see, there are lots of opportunities between now and the end of the month to have your name entered more than once!

Thanks again everyone for your thoughtful support.  Come back soon to learn more about the ‘Beautiful Gift’ that you could win…Best of luck!

Warmly yours,


Categories: CONTESTS
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