Marcy Goldman Strikes Gold
Dec 5, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose
Marcy Goldman is a cookbook author, major website presence, baker, poetess, and warm generous colleague. A visit to Montréal is not complete for me without a visit with her.
On this most recent visit we made an attempt to catch up over a breakfast of omelets and Montréal bagels (chewy but lighter than the NY version--see page 64 in Jewish Holiday Baking--the 10th Anniversary Edition). And we continued talking non-stop all the way to the airport.
Two life-changing things Marcy shared (yes I know they are small things but I will be using them to good purpose every day and therefore are important to me) are the necessity of a small notebook, preferably Moleskine, and the pleasure of disposable fountain pens. I had just about given up on my love for writing with fountain pens after many ink leaks especially on airplanes but Marcy said this disposable variety never leaks. As for the moleskin, made famous by Hemingway, there is a little stretchable band that keeps it closed and so much love and care is put into its production it has what few cookbooks can boast--a stitched binding!
Our conversation turned inevitably to blogs, websites, and cookbooks. Marcy was a pioneer of web recipes. Her website www.betterbaking.com launched in 1997 and has a significant following. We talked about Kindle-type devices and having an actual cookbook to hold versus reading it on line and agreed that there's a limit to 'virtuality.' a cookbook is more than a collection of recipes--it's the soul of the writer. I love Marcy's books for that very reason: she puts her heart and soul into them. Beyond enticing photos, there is contextual history, fascinating personal stories, and a plethora of invaluable tips.
Marcy's book, the best of Better Baking.com, based on recipes from her site, has just been re-issued with the addition of many new recipes that evolved over the near decade since its first release.
Also just out is a reissue of her first cookbook, A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. This 10th Anniversary Edition contains an entire new chapter of holiday cooking recipes. At the time of this writing it already had 24 reviews on Amazon--all five star!
"So why a Jewish baking book?" I couldn't help but ask with a slight Yiddish intonation. Here's Marcy's answer in her own words:
"It was more a case of being Jewish, and a baker ...and being frustrated when I did Jewish food features, there was no comprehensive source. And Jewish cookbooks only included a few baking recipes and not from a baker's perspective.
I figured someone should do that book. And then I realized it might as well be.....moi. But what a big book to do, espcially as my background was not so Jewish/typical, so it was lots of baking but a ton of research, and digging through recipe boxes of everyone's moms and bubbies to get definitive things and re-spin them with today's tastes, methods and ingredients, but mostly I had to invent from the ground up, keeping faithful to the recipes' soul--honey cake in particular: I was determined to make something luscious for even honey cake haters*.
Matzoh butter crunch was an inspiration: It was that old soda cracker recipe but in a light bulb moment. The new cooking section makes this a complete book."
*I'm one and I'm ready to be converted--I can't wait to try this recipe and many others.