PORT HOOD, NS — Mary Janet MacDonald, known to many as the Internet’s “cinnamon roll lady,” didn’t think she had another cookbook, but she’s glad she did.
Already an Amazon bestseller, “Tunes and Wooden Spoons: Love Without Measure” follows the equally successful “Tunes and Wooden Spoons: Recipes from a Cape Breton Kitchen.”
The last slice features some of her favorite recipes, just like the first book, on the heels of her popular Facebook cooking show that began entertaining the masses during the pandemic, especially with the famous cinnamon roll recipe.
The hook this time, however, is that he reached out to some veteran bakers, mostly on the west coast of Cape Breton, looking for his must-have dishes.
Along the way, she discovered that these culinary creations are not only family favorites, but the women who prepare them are pillars of their families with interesting stories of their own.
“There are good memories,” MacDonald said from his home in Port Hood.
“I got a lot out of those interviews of beautiful women who were quiet, unassuming women who were the backbone of their families. They were there doing a lot and working very hard back then.”
Another book was first suggested in January by Vernon Oickle, managing editor at MacIntyre Purcell Publishing, and she initially said ‘no’.
She considered the first book her only chance to share the recipes she had known for years, even though she had several.
She then brought the suggestion to a family gathering, and Margie MacDonald, her eventual co-author, simply asked what she liked best about writing the first book.
“I said, ‘I loved being able to pay tribute to my three mothers and that they will live on in those pages and long after they are gone. I will live for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to come.’”
His co-author said that all the mothers and grandmothers in his latest book could be remembered in the same way.
Completely convinced by that comment, she reached out to family members, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s, and then realized she was mapping the West Coast with her collaborators. Cultures and history followed to create an interesting concept.
In the book, you meet Anne MacLellan, whose interesting backstory includes a meeting with former US President John F. Kennedy.
He met JFK in April 1958 while he was still a senator, had him sign an autograph, and had a brief conversation with him.
Kennedy would later send a letter to MacLellan to tell him how much he appreciated that meeting.
Your recipe for Annie’s molasses cookies also looks very good.
Hermina van Zutphen describes her family’s migration from the Netherlands to Canada, her love for her large family, and her home-baked bread, buns, and rolls.
You’ll also meet a Mi’kmaq grandmother who faced discrimination and an Akkadian grandmother who watched her father work in the plaster factory while her mother tended the farm.
Jessie MacDonald was 106 years old when the authors of the book sat down with her to listen to her story, learn her cookie recipe, and even listen to her recite a poem from her school years.
Janet would later personally deliver a copy of the book before it hit store shelves, as she did for all contributors. Jessie opened the book to the location of her photo and said ‘not too bad’ before spending an afternoon going through the entire book and making notes.
“Last Monday I attended his funeral,” the writer recalled.
“She passed away, but afterward and at the funeral I spoke to some of the family and they were very honored to see her in that book for all to see. I am so glad I chose her. And to think that she sat down that day in the interview and recited that Robert Louis Stevens poem… that’s what she recited to me that day.”
MacDonald’s first book has sold over 17,000 copies to date. The first orders for her second one have also sold out and another order is on the way.
She said “a ton” of books were sold during the book launch on October 15 at Antigonish and she hopes many more will move during a book signing event at Indigo Spirit in the Mayflower Mall today from 6pm 1pm-4pm. .
Regardless, she remains amazed at the popularity of her book and the weekly Facebook streams that launched her amazing writing career.
“Seriously, if you knew me, I’m just a mom and grandma baking in the kitchen and I love baking for my kids and grandkids and my husband,” she said.
“For this to happen to me and to have… fans that mean so much to me, I just can’t get over what happened. It happened and I have a purpose in this world and that’s okay.”
Facebook broadcasts will remain weekly events until the end of December, when they will become monthly.
“It was a COVID thing. You don’t do it for money. I never looked for any sponsorship or anything like that. It served a purpose.”
Another company may follow. The details of that are a best kept secret for now.
She said she didn’t want to do a third book, but she said that before.
– Greg McNeil is a multimedia journalist at the Cape Breton Post. Follow him on Twitter @CBPostGreg.