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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: The Happy Baker: A Girls Guide To Emotional Baking by Erin Bolger ... Part Classy, Part Sassy... With Great Recipes, Pictures... And Humor!

The Happy Baker: A Girl's Guide To Emotional BakingI think I just gained five pounds simply by reading this book... but I've never been more content! :) Really, the little bit in the introduction to the tips in the front of the book sums it up perfectly. Erin Bolger writes, "I'm not going to get into the history of baking or chocolate or sugar. All you need to know is that I love everything to do with baking. If any of my recipes are low-fat, I'm sorry, it was unintentional." And that really sums it up. Erin has a great writing style, with plenty of humor, and she's sharing some really great recipes - how can you go wrong??

In The Happy Baker, Erin Bolger really sets a FUN tone to the book. She talks about her ups and downs, and shares some of her own personal history, as well as some really great recipes (and guess what - there are a ton of photos which are my favorite thing in good cookbooks!).

This chic-lit cookbook is broken down into four parts: Chapter 1: The Early Years, Chapter 2: They Break It, You Bake It, Chapter 3: The Good, The Bad, and The Fugly, Chapter 4: Single and Sassy. Within each chapter are some really funny stories from her life: think speed-dating, psychics... and her dating rules are great. Finally, as if the stories weren't enough to make me laugh, or smile, or sigh with that "been there, done that" feeling, there are 60 awe inspiring recipes, each with a wonderful photo! There were some great twists on favorites (nanaimo bars, cheesecakes, cookies), as well as some new recipes I'm simply dying to try (S'mores bars, Sea Salted Caramels, Tall, Dark, and Caramel cookies).

The Happy Baker: A Girl's Guide to Emotional Baking
by Erin Bolger

Harlequin (October 1, 2010) ~ 160 pages
Entertainment / Humor / Baking

Edition Reviewed: Paperback - Review copy received courtesy of The Amazon Vine Program!

About the Book:
20+ 30+ years of dating fiascos
60+ down-home, comforting recipes
1 pink baking hammer, with apron and lip gloss to match
Many (many) bottles of wine
Too many tears
A whole lotta laughter
Yields: 1 very happy baker

We've all been there.

The blind date from hell. The Big Hurt.

The guy who details his various surgeries over Caesar salad on the first date.

Who needs a pint of rocky road when you can head to the kitchen and work out your heartache with a whisk and a bottle of wine? Erin Bolger has been there, dated that and baked through it all. Turns out the more bitter the heartbreak, the sweeter the batter. So don't cry over bad dates, bad boyfriends or bad breakups—whip up a batch of My-Mom-Didn't-Like-You-Anyway Cupcakes and bake yourself happy.

The Happy Baker book is a collection of recipes of which most are unique to my rural upbringing, matched with my personal dating memories. The memoir vignettes are singularly my own but are at the same time very relatable. Sometimes it's nice to know you weren't the only one to make out with a longhaired rocker in the middle of a cornfield, with bangs the size of Oklahoma!

I am part country, part city…and all woman. After living for eighteen years in a village of nine hundred people, I thought it was time to tackle the Big Smoke aka Toronto, Canada's answer to N.Y.C.! I spent two years taking a cosmetics program there. Being a makeup artist for the last thirteen years has been quite successful for me. Most people might wonder what a professional makeup artist is doing writing a chick-lit cookbook. But, baking has come as naturally to me as makeup artistry has. When you've got passion, anything is possible. If they gave out degrees for sugar addictions, I would be on the honor roll.

My writing career started at the fall fair, in public school. I am the proud recipient of many first- and second-place ribbons for creative writing. If you saw the way they judge a pumpkin, you would know why. The idea for this book hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn't have stopped writing if I'd tried. I would have written in my sleep if possible. I even got writer's arm (definition: a tan on one arm from writing outside all day).

I love to bake and I love to tell stories. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "Erin, you should write a book." Well, here it is. The recipes are easy to follow, with ingredients that are easy to find. Dating is hard enough, so I figure your emotional baking shouldn't be. Since the recipes are my personal favorites, they are tried, tested and true. Many are passed down from grandmas, aunts, great aunts, moms and the occasional kissing cousin. Others are my own twist on the original. Baking is an escape for me. I truly am happiest when I'm baking. I love sharing my baked goods and spreading the joy of baking around. Dating is not always an escape for me, but it sure is entertaining.

There were many times when I second-guessed myself while writing this book. A lot of time and energy went into it. On several occasions I thought, maybe I should focus this energy on furthering my makeup artistry career. I haven't even had a date in a couple of months because I have basically locked myself up in my condo after work to write. It didn't help watching The Shining one night and worrying afterward about getting cabin fever! I guess the worst I could do would be to hack up my plants.

But, whenever I had moments of doubt, a sign would occur that would make me continue on my writing journey. My first sign happened after about three straight weeks of writing. One morning, I stood in my kitchen and shouted, "Just give me a sign!" I needed to know that I should be investing so much time into this project. Later that afternoon, I was sitting at my desk writing when I heard a large rustling noise on my balcony. I looked over and there was a hawk. I said, "You must be my sign." He nodded and flew off, circling above for a few minutes. I quickly looked up the symbolism of hawks: integrity, focus, determination, strength, messenger of the Gods. Okay, sounded good to me! So, I continued, finishing my manuscript.

When the next major moment of self-doubt happened, I got another sign. I called my mother for support, and she told me that our former neighbor (from when I was five) had come by and dropped off a picture he'd found in his basement from the local newspaper. Thing was, this picture was twenty-three years old. It was from the public school fall fair. I was a pigtailed ten-year-old with my beloved (now departed) Gramps, looking at the creative writing exhibits. If that's not a sign, I don't know what is.

There were many times I felt vulnerable about putting myself out there with my stories. But then I thought, who am I kidding, because if we met you would know my whole life story in about five minutes. It's taken years of dating, many bottles of red wine and many hours of listening to Coldplay CDs to make this book possible. I've unlocked my vault of emotions. By reading it, I hope that no matter what dating stage you're at, you know you're not alone. And, you'll come away with a great sugary recipe to put a smile on your face after all the good, the bad and the fugly.

Enjoy my stories and recipes, and please feel free to make them your own.
Copyright © 2010 by Erin Bolger. All rights reserved.

About the Author: (from her website)
“The Happy Baker Book is a reflection of me, like a good country song, honest and relatable…but without the line dancing.”

Growing up in a small town in Ontario, Erin Bolger realized her love for baking early on. From her first solo batch of shortbread at the tender age of nine followed a few years later by her first cookbook for the County Fall School Fair, unbeknownst to her, Erin was writing the recipe for her future. She may have been a late bloomer when it came to dating, and she may not have always followed her Mom's dating advice even though, of course, Mom was right. But she did follow her Mom's baking instructions, which always had a happy ending. Though the pickin's may have been slim back home, that all changed when Erin moved to the big city (Toronto) during her college years. Her adventures in baking and dating developed. Not only were the ingredients more available, so were the men.

After graduating from a Fashion & Cosmetics program Erin became a make-up artist working in Toronto. She has celebrated her career as a Makeup Artist in Toronto for nearly 17 years. Her one of a kind personality, exceptional talent and professionalism has secured her with enviable opportunities within the industry and has been a draw to celebrity clientele and industry professionals, who've sought and relied upon Erin's expertise (and baked goods) throughout the years. She has always baked away her stress (usually caused by men) and for years would share these recipes with friends and co-workers. Any emotional baker knows that the sharing part is just as important as the baking part. Erin became known in the industry for her recipes just as much as her make-up skills.

Erin's work can be seen splashed across Television Networks, through Print and Commercial work. Among her vast portfolio, some of Erin's more recent accomplishments can be viewed on The Next Star (Season 1), So You Think You Can Dance Canada & Inside the Box with Ty Pennington and she's pretty darn sure her recipes helped the success of the shows. Erin never thought she would have a change of professions or that her passion for baking would turn into a successful career. But as her dating experiences became more complicated, her need for simple comfort baking increased (the harder the break-up the better the biscotti). Her stories and baking became such apart of people in her every day life it was an easy transition to become The Happy Baker. When asked by her colleagues why she was always baking she replied "I'm happiest when I'm baking". They prompted her to share her stories & recipes with everyone. Erin had a moment of inspiration that hit her like a ton of bricks. She put paper to pen and wrote every waking moment releasing years of dating & baking memories. She brought her vision for a fun, relatable book to life and from that The Happy Baker cookbook was born…

Erin can now be seen on her own Food Network.ca web series The Happy Baker

Make sure you check out her website for excerpts and some of the recipes!! http://www.thehappybakerchick.com/book.html

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate


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