Just when the world closed up
Shuttered and scared
My own centric world expanded
Odd, but true —
The default fear that always found a home in me
Just left —
Not that I put my head
In that dwindling foundation of sand
We pretend is solid
Nor did I shut off the usual suspects
Reminding me 24/7 to be fearful.
Nothing like that.
This thing called fear is a bully you know
And one I know well, having fought with him
All my days, until now.
Fear is be the ultimate fund-raiser
Knocking door to door
Pressing you to give and give more
Hand out, threat wagging, chilly grin on its face
Asking you to kneel in service to cold comfort which of course
I’ve donated many, many times.
You see, pandemic or not, I tell Fear —
I’ve given you all I have.
It’s not that I’m so brave, I’m just done.
Surrendered or stoic
There’s just nothing left.
So knock all you want
I’m staring you in the eye
But you’re so used to my back
That when you reach around
You find your quiver empty.
And what’s more, Fear old friend –
Behind the largesse of surrender
There’s hope and positivity:
Good will come from this.
Too much homemade bread
Beauty in solitude
Walks that have no meaning yet new insights
Silent skies, bereft of planes
Are bird-filled and chirpy
Begotten by a pandemic
Is a profound thing
That wakes up my spirit
And roosts in my soul.
What do they all say?
This too shall pass
I’m sorry, Fear — but it’s true. …
You Don’t Have to Heal to Find True Love *
* Plus the REAL Reason You Haven’t Found It Yet
I’ve read so many features on finding love I could (and probably should) write the book at this point. As a work-for-hire writer, I can be a tad mercenary but on doling out love advice, I think what I have to say is a public service announcement. My commentary is a personal one based on over six decades living on the planet.
Here’s the thing: Love doesn’t really care, even quality soul-mate love, if you are healed or otherwise woke. Unlike the rest of us, Love is far less judgmental and it can be simple-minded in its fairness. Agreed, the chances of finding quality or soulmate love are higher if you are more self-aware because then that inner shopping list and emotional instinct we all are blessed with is more honed and that is a wonderful romantic North Star GPS. But honestly? …
Pandemic Tango or Last Tango in Winter
Tango in winter keeps you warm. This portrayal of tango in the snow is by Irish artist Alan Hogan; you can find him here
There’s something extra special about pre-winter holiday tango, especially if you live in a frosty white and cold winter city like Montreal. In summer, Montreal is a sexy coquette: a bit Paris, a bit New York but indelibly herself. But in winter that delightful warmth is scarce; the December air is crystal and glints, casting a shimmery light against the darkness of the early sun-setting afternoons. But if you dance tango, you’re in luck. Winter hearts have a reprieve because at tango there are golden rays of warmth still to be had.
It’s very simple: all you have to do is find your way to a quiet, unassuming, drop-in tango studio. Most tango schools have practicas and/or milongas which are informal, open times where you can drop by for a few dances or the whole afternoon. Both practicas and milongas are usually filled with people from your regular tango classes and dancers from other schools or the occasional tourist, thirsty for their tango fix.
Of course, I have my own favorite place, which is in Old Montreal and perched three flights up in an unassuming building, adjacent a toney French restaurant. You scoot up the stairs, tango shoe bag in hand and heave the industrial door open. Tumbling inside from the hallway landing, you land in the planet’s best kept secret, a magic kingdom of dance and music that chases the winter blues away in a heartbeat and a few bandoneon chords. There, away from the cold and darkness of December, is a hot spot of warmth, music, and humanity.
I always have a distinct impression when I first open that door, of flying bodies, tossing hither and thither in mad tango freedom — everyone moving to the tango music! I think of speakeasys of decades past and wonder if they were like this demi-monde world as well. This is where the winter sunlight hides and where there is not an undeniable life forced, fueled by a plethora of happy people enjoying a few hours in a way much of the world has forgotten, if indeed they ever knew it existed. This beautiful, movable tableau is Montreal winter tango.
I remember one particular afternoon of incredible winter tango one mid-December afternoon years ago. …
Three Free Awesome Rosh Hashanah Recipes! My Legendary Moist, Majestic Honey Cake — New Year’s is Sweeter with Honey!
These are some of my favorite recipes for the Jewish New Year. Nothing beats apple and honey so it’s my favs on those recipes. The Babka is also divine. It’s moist and fragrant — but it’ s not one of those gluey, sweet babkas. This is made for coffee and tea and you can also slice and toast it.
People love or hate honey cake. I used to be in the latter group until I invented my own honey cake — it is indeed Majestic (6 inches high) and Moist (mouth-watering from the get-go; fabulous a week later). …
An Oreo Love Affair, Bake an Oreo Coffee Cake!
The Oreo cookie love affair continues, especially in a pandemic. According to this piece in the New York Times, we can’t get enough of this sweet snack.
I make many recipes that call for Oreos especially a landmark cheesecake that I used to cater to restaurants. It was my signature cheesecake. But nowadays I just as often make this Oreo Coffee Cake, a tall, golden moist coffeecake, with chopped up Oreo cookies as the ‘streusel” and more on top, finished with a stipling of vanilla fondant. This is a riveting cake! …
If you’ve never had a fresh tomato tart, you are missing something. This is a taste experience that amalgamates pizza, quiche and a savory tart — it is utterly fantastic! Creating a quintessential tom ato tart was a feat and like so many classics, I had to do it myself to get it perfect! If you want to speed this up, swap in prepared butter-based puff pastry.
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water, or more
Tomato Basil Tomato Topping
½ cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 ½ pounds medium size tomatoes (use red and yellow mix), sliced
½ pound medium cheddar cheese, grated
¼ pound fontina cheese, grated
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese…
This is also for people who are otherwise great bakers or cooks but new to sourdough.
I’m not going to wax lyrical about bread, sourdough, the beauty of baking or baking in pandemics or otherwise get verbose. I want you in the kitchen. I want you baking and doing, not reading ad nauseum. I don’t want you bogged down before you start.
Sourdough is not an easy place to start a bread baking adventure but it is trendy and I know if you’re reading this, you want in.
So here goes.
Sourdough uses yeast but it grabs wild yeast from the air of which there are at least 1500 species. That’s what people used before packaged yeast which is a g-dsend, totally awesome lifesaver. But sometimes there’s less of it around — like in a pandemic and/or we want to go back to the old-fashioned way of doing things (like in a pandemic) because it’s fun and comforting. Plus the taste of a sourdough bread and its crust as pretty darned special. It’s worth it.
And it’s also a bit of mindfulness which leads to wellness which is not a bad thing. …
If you’re reading this now (pandemic time) some of you might not have yeast and very little flour.
Look online for yeast at healthfood stores and bread supply places or even locally at a bakery wholesaler in your city. They might insist you buy $100 or so of flour, sugar, yeast, vanilla, etc. but they often will accept cash orders from ‘common folks’.
You can also try making biscuits or soda bread — both of which use baking powder and baking soda. It’s not the same but it is bready stuff.
Then you can start a sourdough starter. Once it’s mature, about 1/4 cup starter in the recipes below, instead of yeast, might work out (and give the breads a longer rise). …
Dear Bakers and Friends,
Good morning and welcome to April 2020 issue of Betterbaking.com. I wish I could say happy April Fool’s Day because that would mean all this ‘stuff in the air’ would be either a joke or a collective bad dream. But when everyone is having the same yucky dream you know it’s not a joke.
This is a difficult time for all of us and I know for some it is more difficult than others. …