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Pink Trees and Cherry Tea!

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Happy Spring,

Dear Friends!

Today, I am steeping one of my favourite teas – Kyoto Cherry Rose scented with natural cherry and rose flavours.  It is pale yellow in colour with a heavenly aroma and sweet taste.

Would you like a cuppa in my prized vintage China pattern? “Apple Blossom” is a stunning profusion of pink-petaled apple trees.  I LOVE this pattern!  I found it when I wasn’t looking at a roadside antiques barn while vacationing on Prince Edward Island a few summers ago! It was such a thrilling and unexpected find. Isn’t that always the way! I think I must have danced right out the door with my newspaper-wrapped bundles of joy! I hope one day to stumble across a matching teapot to complete the set.  I will just have to keep on treasure hunting…

I LOVE this pattern’s history in that it was insightfully commissioned in the early 1960’s by the Chair of Nova Scotia’s Apple Blossom Festival, then in just its second year. This enduring pattern is an artist’s rendition of springtime in Annapolis Valley when the apple blossoms are exploding all over the countryside. All these years later, the festival remains a much-loved annual tradition there.

I LOVE, too, pink-flowering trees! But you probably could have guessed that already? Each spring, I make a special pilgrimage to a particular street in the heart of our city that is lined with gracious century-old homes on handsome, mature lots.  One home on the street stands out from the rest.  Along its perimeter marches a legion of stately Japanese Cherry trees.  Their entangled branches, thickly laden with exquisite fluffy pink blooms, reach way out over the hefty black fence that rings the property, and bend down to the street like low-hanging frothy clouds of cotton candy!  Delicious, pure pink abundance!  My feet and heart always dance together at the sight.  It makes my day every time!

P1070224Wherever these frothy pink specimens grow in abundance, there is an intense ‘Bloom Watch’ and visitors queue by the hundreds to see the magic of the cherry trees unfurl in a fleeting spectacular show of renewal. Their pink vapour of nature’s perfection fill the landscapes with intense beauty, wonderment and emotion.

To the Japanese, the fallen petals of the cherry blossom symbolize a soldier who has died in battle long before his time. But Spring blooms also represent strength, rebirth and hope for the future…

Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow!” She was so right about that. To plant pink trees is to beautify our communities and to help grow a future without breast cancer…I believe! The seeds of Pink Days In Bloom’s “The Pink Tree Project” in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Atlantic Region are just beginning to be sowed…

Those of you who have been following my blog for some time already may know that I am a breast cancer “Thriver” and that when I was on medical leave a few years ago recovering from treatments, I decided to combine my love of gardening with the overwhelming need to do something, anything, to help fight this disease in some way…

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0001GpHere are several links to some of the articles about Pink Days In Bloom in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Atlantic Region that appeared in our local newspaper last year. It’s a bit of a story and I think these next few articles probably best summarize how the seed was first planted and how it has continued to grow and flourish with the support of an amazing group of like-minded, dedicated volunteers and a caring business community:
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PHOTO:  Pink Days In Bloom’s Signature Garden Faeries ‘Hope’ and ‘Invincibelle’ with O’Brien’s Boat Tours‘ mermaid mascot, Miss Shell, during ‘Pink Days In Bloom On the Sea!’ in the Town of Bay Bulls last summer…
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The Empress Hotel’s world- famous Tea Lobby is a glorious place to enjoy a spot of tea!  You can see some photos of this grand lady in my previous post, THE ELEGANT EMPRESS.
During “Pink Tree Day in the Park” and “Tea Sea-to-Sea” on June 8, at the same hour that we will be planting a pink-flowering tree in Bowring Park, one of our city’s most cherished parks, here St. John’s, Newfoundland on Canada’s East Coast, our dear friends at The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia on the Country’s West Coast will also plant a pink “sister” tree on their hotel grounds.
And, while we are celebrating and FUNdRaising over tea and champagne at The Bungalow, The Empress team will host a Pink Days In Bloom Tea of their own and “Sip in Support”. Isn’t that AWESOME!  
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On June 8th, you, too, can pick up your cup in support, whether on your iPad, in the office, at the kitchen table, by the pool or wherever you happen to be via a Virtual Tea!  I would love it if you could join us. Simply brew your favourite cuppa and click:  cbcf.org/GetInvolved/Donate.  Ask your family, friends and co-workers to join in, too. It’s that easy!
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For TWITTER LOVERS:  On June 8th, Tweet about your tea experience at #PinkDaysInBloom and your Tweets can be seen by guests of The Empress on a screen near their world-famous Tea Lobby, bringing us all even closer together in ‘growing’ a future without breast cancer!
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I am so excited about this next beautiful event! THANK YOU to our dear friends at The Empress for sharing in the cause! Please show them your LOVE! ‘Like’ The Empress on Facebook. Or, visit them at Fairmont.com/Empress-Victoria to discover their fabulous get-away packages and legendary afternoon teas…If you haven’t visited The Empress and Victoria yet, it’s a must to add to your bucket list!
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Read all about this exciting and meaningful event below! I hope it will help explain why I have been away from my blog these past few months!
I have met so many beautiful people on this journey. Thank you Proven Winners for the ‘Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea’ – a tough plant that is working hard to find a cure, to all the committed volunteers and amazing supporters.  Without you, it would not be possible.  It means so very much to me and so many others. XO  I hope you will join us wherever you are on June 8th for pink trees and cherry tea and for HOPE, AWARENESS AND SUPPORT!
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I hope you enjoy the photos of pretty china and the pink tree cookies made by my sweet friend Maria of Petite Sweet! Thank you so much for taking precious time out of your day to visit with me. Please leave your beautiful footprint to let me know that yo were here, and so I can visit you in return!  XO
Wishing you a beautiful day and Happy Mother’s Day weekend,

Linda

 Please ‘Like’ Pink Days In Bloom on Facebook.

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P1070144P1070147P1070151P1070163P1070153A true warrior, like tea, shows his strength in hot water. – Ancient Chinese proverb

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Hope yours is a blue-sky kind of day…

I’m happy to be sharing today in honour of Mother’s Day at Inspiration Monday, Make It Pretty Monday, Tea Time Tuesday, Return to LovelinessMartha’s Favourite, The Scoop, Inspire Me Tuesday, Nifty Thrifty Tuesday, Do Tell Tuesday, What’s It Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, Wake UpWednesdayWhat We Accomplished Wednesday, Before and After WednesdayHope in Every SeasonCottage Style Party, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Simple and Sweet FridayFeathered Nest Friday,  Show and Tell Friday, Fabulously Creative Friday, Shabbilicious Friday, Saturday Show OffWhat To Do WeekendsPink SaturdayThe Charm of Home, Bouquet of Talent!

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A Little Cafe With A Big Heart

This beautiful book entitled “Summer for all the Senses” was gifted to me by its author, Franciska Munck-Johansen, a talented interiors photographer for a number of international magazines.  I’ll tell you in an upcoming post about her outstanding book and how she came to send me an autographed copy all the way from Norway …

Glorious Day, Friends!

It’s another beautiful day here and we are so thankful to have this sunny and warm weather as we have been waiting all summer long for it!  I’m glad you came by just as I’m about to pour up a huge glass of lemonade.  Come, let’s sit out for our chat.  It’s so nice outside – just the perfect summer temperature with a pleasant breeze…it would be a shame not to soak up every second.

It’s early morning yet as these chairs are empty, but in a just a few hours…

If you happen to be touring in and around the historic coastal town of Placentia, Newfoundland this summer (very near where I grew up), Philip’s Cafe is a must-visit place on your list of  things ‘To Do’.

This ‘tasteful’ spot was once an old house that I would pass by many times during my younger years, but today I hardly recognize it! Lovingly and creatively restored by its new owners, it is now a hub at peak times with visitors, both locals and tourists, piling in for some delightful eats.

CLOWN ABOUT TOWN  Phillip Meade, the saltbox-style cafe’s talented chef and co-owner, told me that he has lived in many places and has held many and varied jobs in his lifetime. He has been a long-haul truck driver, an off-shore oilrig worker, an artist, a pastry chef and even a clown – a REALLY GOOD clown. 🙂

I was fascinated by the latter occupation and asked him the secret to becoming a GOOD clown.  He quickly responded, “Passion – passion for everything you do in life!” Phillip told me that his‘clowning around’ had a humble beginning – he was simply asked to dress up as one for his company’s children’s party.  But Philip told me that he did not want to be just any ol’ clown. He had to be the best clown that could be – so, off he went to’ clown school’ to study how to become a clown – a real clown.

Enjoy a waterside picnic just across the street from Philip’s Cafe! Now that’s a mirror image!

WORK OF HEART And, it seems, everything Philip Meade does comes from the passion in his heart – from running a charming B&B; to restoring a house that had seen better days to his now new and beautifully-unique cafe; and producing the renowned delectable breads, pastries, quiche and desserts that disappear as quickly as they make it out of the oven!

A view of Rosedale Manor from the garden gate…

Phillip and his co-owner in the cafe, Linda Grimm, who hails from Vancouver Island, seem to well complement one another for Linda is Philip’s partner in life as well as his business partner. Together they also own and operate  Rosedale Manor, a ‘sweet’ heritage waterside Bed and Breakfast (within ten minutes of the Argentia ferry terminal), and where Philip serves as the Manor’s pastry chef host alongside Linda who, too, is a passionate and artistic soul – a sculptor. Although, I have not yet seen any of Linda’s works personally, I am told they are quite beautiful.

The couple’s ‘Rosedale’ guests eat a hearty breakfast at Philip’s Cafe located mere minutes from the Manor.  Along with ham and free-range eggs, fresh homebaked toast of several tasty varieties and other traditional breakfast fare, Philip proudly serves up his own ‘house recipe’ porridge made with a mix of millet, flax and oats, along with fresh Newfoundland berries and crunchy nuts!  He generously offered me a sample and, let me just say, it was NOT my grandmother’s porridge!  It was really very good and oh-so good for you! Next time, I will have a bowlful of Philip’s granola made from a creative mix of multi-grains and dried fruits with yogurt – a whole lotta delicious goodness.  Yum!

SWEET SERENDIPITY  I asked Philip how he and Linda came to settle in the tiny sea-side town of Placentia, all the way from Vancouver Island, British Columbia where they had lived for many years prior.  Philip relayed that he and Linda had come back to Newfoundland on the occasion of his grandmother’s 90th birthday about six years ago.  They stayed at Rosedale Manor during their week-long visit and liked it so much that they decided to buy the place!  And the rest as ‘they’ say is history…

The atmosphere of their friendly and cozy cafe is a warm and inviting blend of the best of both world’s – decidedly a welcoming mix of hearty west coast-to-east coast flavour!

It was pure serendipity that brought Philip and Linda back to Newfoundland to stay and to acquire a charming sea-side B&B…

Quiche variety #4 ‘Portobello Mushroom and Sundried Tomato’ waits for moi! OMG!  Tasteeee…

Philip’s quiche are delectably rich and fluffy like an omelot. You can see and taste the goodness that so caringly goes into making each one.

On the three consecutive days I was there (yes, it was that good), five beautiful quiche varieties were fresh-from-the oven each day….I tried several different quiche in as many days – all were hands down THE BEST quiche I have ever tasted!  And, I thought I made a nice quiche!

Isn’t this the cutest cafe logo in the window above the door to the kitchen? “Surrender to your cravings…”  You’ll find it even on Philip’s Cafe souvenir tees, which are available in brilliant colours and a great quality.

PHILIP’S CAFE IS SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT Interestingly, Philip loves, and has a fascination with, crows and all manner of crow-inspired decor!   There’s even a large handsome painting of a crow hanging on the washroom wall, and you’ll happen upon the odd crow perched here and there atop curio cupboards and in bookcases around the store.

And, it seems, the couple have a great sense of humour.  You can buy T-shirts and specialty soaps featuring the Philip’s Cafe “Surrender to Your Cravings” logo!  The tees are a good quality and we purchased a couple before leaving on our final day there.

A TISKET, A TASKET, ‘PHILIP’ YOUR PICNIC BASKET Philip bakes up fresh artisan breads daily for his gourmet sandwich menu – the fillings he uses are wonderful and generous.  If you’re on your way to Castle Hill National Historic Park, or the Cape St. Mary’s Seabird Ecological Reserve, you won’t want to miss stopping here to fill up your picnic basket – I think you will be very happy with its contents!  :- Philip doesn’t sell his bread by the loaf, though (sadly) – he can’t keep up with the demand for it in his mouth-watering sandwiches.

What a treat!  Life is sweet!

For early risers, breakfast starts at 7:00 AM at Philip’s cafe. On the menu:  Fresh-from-the-oven molasses and whole-wheat breads, omelets, ham and free-range eggs any style, and most certainly Philip’s house  porridge. Rest assured, Philip’s porridge is NOT your grandmother’s recipe! It’s rich and tasty made from steel cut oats, flax, millet and fresh Newfoundland blueberries, partridge berries and even crunchy nuts.  You’ll want to try the granola, too.  Decisions, decisions…So many things to try and so little time!

Fresh artisan bread in the making for all those delish sandwiches that Philip serves to his hungry customers.  He doesn’t sell the bread he makes, though. He doesn’t have time to keep up with the demand. It is solely for his gourmet sandwiches. What a treat!  Life is sweet.

The overflow breakfast room is located upstairs above the main cafe.  It is lovely in the early morning light.  What a serene place to be…

Look down! Philip is proud of the fact that the floors in his new cafe were reclaimed from the old ‘Bristol School’ gymnasium once located on the Argentia U.S. Naval Base nearby. Upon entry to the cafe, one must step across a thin strip of the ‘Navy Seals’ emblem that was intentionally incorporated into the floor design as a special piece of nostalgia for Philip, and anyone else who may have connections with, and fond memories, of the military base that once stood.

Stained glass windows original to the house around the doorway in what is now Philip’s cafe kitchen

Specialty soaps to crow about

A hilarious sign!

Menu board with many tempting eats…

Next time you happen to be in town, be sure to stop by and say “Hi”

And, my sweeties, thanks for stopping by ‘Beautiful Ideas’ today!  I hope to see you again very soon. I am crossing my fingers that this burst of glorious weather will last for awhile.  Wishing you all a beautiful day!

Linda

BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON…

Welcome, Dear Friends!

Today, I learned something new and wonderful and am excited to share it with you! This story is sure to touch your heart, and you will be amazed at the kindly man with a thick European accent behind it all.  I so hope you can stay for a cuppa. And, if there’s a young person with whom you might like to share this inspiring and loving story, I have some ice-cold milk and, yes, even a cupcake or two! So find yourself a comfy chair and gather round.

SEARCHING FOR TREASURE  Witless Bay is a 30-minute drive from where I live. It’s still summer here, but it won’t be long before you’ll see groups of people – young and old alike – walking about at night, curiously dressed in boots and heavy gloves with flashlights and nets in hand, scouring the seashore and wharves, and peering into the bushes alongside roads and driveways for something all too familiar. German-born film producer Juergen Schau and his wife, Elfie, head up teams of enthusiastic youth volunteers along with parent chaperones – as many as several groups of up to 15 people in a single evening – searching for something they hope NOT to find…

A FRIENDLY FACE  Witless Bay is one of the most scenic places you’ll find anywhere on the planet, where there is an abundance of wildlife and the ocean just seems to wink in the sun! People arrive here from all over the world to see majestic icebergs, several whale species including orcas frolic in the ocean, playful dolphins perform synchronized swimming, and acrobatic seabirds of varied species pirouette across the vast sky.

And, then there’s the one creature who effortlessly charms you with his amusing antics, coaxes a wide smile across your face and puts that twinkle in your eye.  Before you know it, you’re jumping up and down, squealing with delight and pointing to the stocky little bird with the clown-like make-up! He’s the ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ of Witless Bay and Newfoundland’s provincial bird – the cheery Atlantic puffin! The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve is made up of four islands, one of which is Gull Island, home to the largest puffin colony in North America.  Every year, some 250,000 of these amazing little birds flock here to hang up their ‘Home Sweet Home’ sign.

ALL DRESSED UP WITH SOMEWHERE TO GO  Puffins are dressed” similarly to penguins in little black-and-white tuxedos. They are perfectly coordinated from head to toe as they have cute orange feet and their beaks are a colourful display of brilliant yellow, orange/red and black. They don’t always look that way, though.  After the breeding season, puffins start to shed the outer ‘signature’ parts of their beaks, leaving a smaller and faded true bill beneath that turns pale grey in winter.  The reason for this is yet unknown, but one theory is that they no longer need to romance their partners after the breeding season; and molting the vibrantly colored beak makes them less noticeable to their natural predators. Yet, as sure as the flowers return in April, so, too, the puffin’s beak “blooms” again in spring, strongly suggesting that it might well serve in attracting a mate since it is the time of year when they begin to breed.

DID YOU KNOW? Puffins smartly stand upright about 10 inches tall and weigh on average 17.5 ounces. The small puffin is related to that of the larger auk species?  Like the auks, puffins live out almost all of their days on the sea and only go ashore for breeding – but not until they are about five years old! The gregarious puffin, after several years abroad flying to who knows where and back again (it’s thought they winter as far south as Morocco), return to their original nest among a colony of thousands of nesting sites! How do they to do it?! Sometimes even we humans can’t manage to do this! Our cookie-cutter houses all seem to look the same to us!  And, on our less brilliant days, some of us have even been known to have walked into our neighbour’s home by innocent mistake!  Just sayin’… 🙂  No one really knows how puffins can recognize their same nest year after year. Their great navigational and recognition skills remain a mystery to us mere mortals…

How’s this for a heartwarming photo?! Thank you to Jeremy Stein of Albuquerque, New Mexico, jsteinfoto.com for generously permitting the use of this beautiful, captivating picture!  Ahh, to be in love… I hope you will come to visit us in Newfoundland, Jeremy! 🙂

These puffins are bonding and appear to be bestowing upon one another a little kiss in the mist! Notice the yellow ‘rosette’ at the corners of their colourful beaks. DID YOU KNOW? Once upon a time, some thought the puffin to be a fish because they spend so much time ‘flying’ underwater?! Photo credit: Jeremy Stein, www. jsteinfoto.com

DID YOU KNOW?!  Some of the most at-risk ocean species are not underwater but in the air? Puffins give birth to only one egg each year. Both parents dutifully take their turn in caring for the chic for up to six weeks. Puffins dig burrows about 2 feet in length for their nest, using their beaks to dig and their webbed feet to kick out the dirt. Puffins ‘talk’ in their underground burrows. They make a soft growling-moaning sound. Predators such as seagulls and eagles have been known to swoop down upon the puffins’ cliffside burrows, sticking their head inside nests and stealing the chic eggs.

Baby ‘pufflings’, as they are called, are nocturnal – they need to be for survival. When they are just a few weeks old, the parents turn them out of the nest to enable them to learn the necessary survival skills that will take them into adulthood.  Sadly, there was a time when many pufflings would not survive here and many residents in the coastal towns near the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve would awaken in the morning to find dead puffins throughout their neighbourhoods from Bay Bulls and Witless Bay to Tors Cove.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.  ~Native American Proverb

ONCE UPON A VACATION After coming to Newfoundland on vacation more than 14 years ago, international film consultant and entrepreneur Juergen Schau, along with his wife Elfie loved this place so much that they purchased a home in Witless Bay and return every year to vacation in summer and at Christmastime.  It wasn’t long after Jeurgen and Elfie made the decision to live here when they decided to educate themselves as to why so many pufflings were crash landing in the towns and dying at their feet. The more Juergen talked to the locals, he learned that this was not an uncommon sight and that it had been occurring for many years.  So, he began researching and the more questions he asked, the more he learned.  In Norway and in Iceland, for example, where reportedly approximately 60% of all the world’s Atlantic puffins live, a similar phenomenon occurs soon after pufflings are born every year in July.

DID YOU KNOW?! Pufflings usually remain at sea when they leave the security of the nest, but they have poor eyesight at night and are guided on their journey by the moon.  Since they are instinctively seduced by light, the nearby lights of the communities all-too-often attract them on cloudy or foggy evenings when the baby pufflings are more prone to become lost and veer off their flight path.

PUFFIN PATROL  Juergen decided that something within his power could be done to help the puffins which he could not ignore.  At first, he started going out at night himself looking for pufflings to rescue, taking them home to secure them and then down to the beach the next morning to release them.  You might ask, why not release them as soon as they are found? It is believed that if the pufflings were to be released immediately back into the night, it would be futile as the situation would only be repeated.

Take care of the earth and she will take care of you.  ~Author Unknown

DIM DOWN THE LIGHTS!  However, Juergen did not feel it was enough to stop there.  He took on the task of printing 1,000 plus brochures and distributed them throughout the community, educating people about the birds’ plight and asking residents to dim any unnecessary lights at night.  He wasn’t sure at first how people would react but he soon found that they were only too willing to help, and the “Dim Down the Lights Program” was born!

THE TOWNSPEOPLE SIGN UP!  And, it wasn’t long before the townspeople people wanted to help in any way that they possibly could and were eager to enlist in Juergen’s “Puffin Patrol” setting out to find the birds that have fallen on town streets and in backyards during the night. The pufflings are placed in boxes with plenty of air holes and transported back to their sheds where they are cared for overnight and released back into the wild the next morning. Apparently, there is a right way to release a puffin back into their environment – the pufflings must be held so their wings are free and flapping before they are ‘thrown’ so they can properly take flight.  Once they take that first dive, after being given a second chance, they are well on their way to living a long life.

DID YOU KNOW? Puffins flap their wings at great speed (up to 400 beats per minute) and can reach flying speeds up to 55 miles per hour?  They can dive to depths of 200 feet and spend most of their lives at sea.  They even have a flying technique for underwater. Puffins find it easier to fly underwater since their wings are small.

Puffins return to land only in springtime, gradually building up their colonies as the egg-laying season draws nearer.  They nest in underground burrows well out of sight, several feet into the cliff and close to the cliff-top, allowing the parent birds to fly in quickly and then escape again to sea, giving their predators less opportunity to attack them. The nests are often carefully lined with bits of soft, dead plant material to cushion the eggs, which are usually laid in early May.

A puffin egg resembles closely that of a hen’s egg.  Both parents dutifully take a turn in incubating the egg for up to six weeks.   Near the end of July and early August, although the pufflings are not fully grown, they have reached about 70% of the adult’s weight and can fly reasonably well.  They are still vulnerable prey, however, for gulls and eagles so they must leave the nest at night, working their way down to the cliff-edge and taking off in the darkness.  They go by themselves and are out of sight of land by day-break.  From hereon in, they are on their own and begin their journey.  The young puffins remain at sea for up to two years.  From the age of two onward, the young spend more and more time at the colony in summer, searching for a prospective mate and borough.  Most puffins do not start to breed until they have reached age five!  The breeding success of Puffins is not very high; on average each pair rears a chick every two years and less than one in five of these young survive to reach breeding age.  It seems that once they have attained breeding age, they are long-lived birds.

THE LIFE OF A PUFFIN  Puffins eat mostly small fish and, if all goes well in the wild, they can live up to 20 years. There are even reports in some parts of the world of puffins who have lived to be 34 and 38 years old!

PUFFIN, THE PUFFIN – WHO’S GOT THE PUFFIN?!  The children of Witless Bay and surrounding communities are so immersed in the experience of saving the beautiful and loveable puffins, they even name each rescued bird!  In the early days of the Puffin Patrol, it was not unusual to save up to 20 birds in one night.  These numbers have now greatly reduced to just two or three, and on some nights none – proof the puffin program is working!

AN UNLIKELY HERO  What many people may not know is that for some 15 years, Jeurgen was Managing Director for Sony Pictures Entertainment’s numerous companies which include Global Entertainment Productions and Tri-Star Films in Germany and Austria (Sony’s largest market outside North America) and was responsible for budgets over 100 billion dollars. Throughout his high-profile Hollywood film career, he worked with many famous writers, directors, producers, managers and actors including the likes of Jack Nicholson, Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, John Travolta, Will Smith, Susan Sarandon, Drew Barrymore,  Jane Fonda, Cameron Diaz, Jodie Foster and more… And, he has driven a Morgan sports car for over 30 years, travelled the world, is active in many charities, and is a keen protector of whales.

I asked Jeurgen why he and Elfie choose to live a simpler life here in Newfoundland and why he looks out for the puffins.

Click on Jeurgen’s photo to take you directly to the Puffin Patrol’s website.

Jeurgen and Elfie’s home in Germany is in Berlin, where most of Jeurgen’s work takes him. Thanks to the internet, Jeurgen is able to coordinate his work at home in Europe from his Newfoundland home. When Jeurgen and Elfie are not in Germany or Hollywood, they love to spend their winters in Uruguay and in Baja California, where they have a keen interest in protecting grey whales. Juergen told me that he has made some 30 trips to Newfoundland in the past 14 years – Air Canada loves them! 🙂

The Puffin Patrol is now on and it’s a busy time in Witless Bay! Thank you Juergen and Elfie! We love you both for all that you do.

If you have these beautiful birds where you live, please visit the website below to learn how you can help make a difference. And, if you’d like to become part of the local Puffin Patrol, click on the link below:

Witless Bay Puffin Patrol

If you would like to hear the sound that a puffin makes, click the link below.  Once you’re there, scroll down to ‘AUDIO’.

Puffin Sound – National Geographic

 
NTV News Item

National Geographic Video – Iceland Experience

<a title=”NTV Puffin Video” href=”http://http://www.youtube.com/embed/iztEpiesSk8“>NTV News Video

CBC Article

The Telegram

Information Sources:  Puffin Patrol, CpAWS, Puffinpalooza, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, The Telegram, NTV, CBC, National Geographic

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:  thestar.com).  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



A ‘BEAUTIFUL CHAT’ WITH RED HOUSE SOUPS’ CAROLYN NORBERG,  AT HOME IN HER FLATROCK, NEWFOUNDLAND ‘SOUP KITCHEN’…

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.

SOUP MEMORIES

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.

THE ‘IDEA’ OF SOUP

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.

CAROLYN’S ‘SOUP KITCHEN’

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.

SUGAR & SPICE & ALL THINGS NICE…WHAT ARE RED HOUSE SOUPS MADE OF?

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.

SOUP SCENTS

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.

RED HOUSE SOUPS IS ‘GREEN’

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.

SOUP IS ‘A BEAUTIFUL THING’

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:  www.redhousesoups.com / Email: info@redhousesoups.com

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

APPLE, TURNIP AND BRIE SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 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
Method:
  • 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!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CBC’S INTERVIEW WITH CAROLYN

YOU COULD WIN A DUO OF CAROLYN’S DELICIOUS SOUPS – PROVIDED YOU LIVE IN RED HOUSE SOUPS’ DELIVERY AREA – SIMPLY BY COMMENTING.  FOR EVERY TIME YOU COMMENT IN JUNE, YOUR NAME WILL BE ADDED TO THE DRAW.

A ‘BEAUTIFUL CHAT’ WITH MARCY GOLDMAN, MASTER BAKER AND COOKBOOK AUTHOR EXTRAORDINAIRE

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

 

A ‘BEAUTIFUL CHAT’ WITH MARCY GOLDMAN, MASTER BAKER AND COOKBOOK AUTHOR EXTRAORDINAIRE

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 BetterBaking.com” (as well as The New Best of BetterBaking.com”) 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 BetterBaking.com, 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, BetterBaking.com 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 BetterBaking.com 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!

PHOTO CREDITS:

  • “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 BetterBaking.com”, 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.

MARTHA STEWART LIVING RADIO

 

 

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YOU COULD WIN ‘SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL’ IN THE COMING MONTH!

 

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 BetterBaking.com” 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 BetterBaking.com

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

CLICK HERE FOR CONTEST DETAILS – “TO THANK YOU”

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IN THE KITCHEN WITH MARCY – A ‘BEAUTIFUL CHAT’ ABOUT BAKING, PASSION AND LIFE…

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?

MARCY: Yes.

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

MARCY: Yes.

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?

MARCY: Yes.

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, BetterBaking.com.

(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 BetterBaking.com 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 BetterBaking.com.

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THE GIFT OF A RECIPE FROM MARCY’S KITCHEN

(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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

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.

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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 BetterBaking.com, or try the recipe.  I look forward to your visiting again soon…

Wishing you all a beautiful day,

Linda 🙂

 

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