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Posts Tagged ‘scones’

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Here’s what I know about laundry, after a decade and a half or so: it’s one of the chores I don’t mind.

Make no mistake: sometimes it’s a pain, especially when I’m not eager to schlep a full hamper down three flights of stairs to the basement and back up again. I also know that it’s easier for me than for many people, thanks to my electric washer and dryer: I don’t have to spend hours scrubbing clothes, or days waiting for them to dry.

That being said, I love a warm, soft pile of clean laundry, heaped onto a bed so I can sort it and put it away. I love a full drawer of patterned cloth napkins, a neatly folded stack of clean sheets. I love emptying the laundry hampers after a trip or a harried week.

As Kathleen Norris has noted, laundry is “one of the very few tasks in life that offers instant results, and this is nothing to sneer at.” Laundry is also one of the ways I take care of myself and my husband, putting a part of our lives to rights, creating (some) order where there was previously chaos. And about once a week these days, you can find me combining laundry with a couple of other rituals: podcasts and scones.

I’m a slow listener to only a couple of podcasts. I love Krista Tippett’s wise, thoughtful, wide-ranging conversations with all sorts of folks on On Being, though I admit I don’t get to them all. And I never miss an episode of All the Books!, which features Liberty and a rotating cast of other women talking about the latest and greatest books they’re reading, or highlighting old favorites. There are frequent digressions to other topics, which is part of the fun, and I love hearing their warm, funny, generous voices in my ear as I putter around the kitchen, washing dishes and wiping counters and watering the thirsty geraniums.

The third part of this ritual is Molly’s scones, which I’ve been eating for breakfast nearly every day for a couple of years now. They’re hearty and delicious and not too sweet, and by now I know the recipe by heart and by hand.

I measure out the flour, whisk in baking powder and salt, grate in a few tablespoons of butter and stir in white sugar and dried cranberries. I can do all these things while I’m listening, and while the laundry spins downstairs. I pop them into the oven and then head downstairs to check on the dryer, or hang up sweaters or corral my husband’s socks. I come back up and pull out the cookie sheet, letting it cool on the counter. And I exhale.

It’s been a fast and full stretch around here lately: change, the only constant of the past few years, has been coming faster than I can keep up with. I’ve found myself scattered and frustrated, more often than I care to admit. But this ritual and a few others, when I can sink into them, help ground me.

As we head into summer – with more change ahead – you can (sometimes) find me in the kitchen, baking and folding and listening.

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I admit I was a little reluctant for fall to come this year.

You see, we had such a long winter last year, and a cold wet spring – so I’ve been savoring every bit of sunshine, every warm day and golden sunset of summer and Indian summer. But fall is undoubtedly here in the Northeast – and I do love it, so I’m now entering into it with gusto.

The season's first apple, and my jaunty red accessories.

Besides, I’ve got quite a few falls to make up for. In my West Texas hometown, “fall” often lasts for about a week between the blistering heat of summer and the whip of winter winds across the plains. I’ve sweated through many a football game in a wool band uniform, wishing it were cooler – and then shivered my way through many a Christmas parade, my flute icy against my lips. So I’m soaking up every moment of crisp autumn air (and trying not to think about the coming winter – surely it can’t be as bad as last year?).

Here’s how I’m falling into fall:

1. Eating apples (and planning to go pick them very soon)
2. Savoring the very last batches of summer produce
3. Making and freezing pesto, while I still can
4. Planning local trips – up to N.H. to see the foliage; a return to New York to see Allison; a day trip out to the Boston Harbor Islands and another to Portland, Maine
5. Making pumpkin scones and pumpkin bread
6. Savoring the last of my summer teas and planning to stock up on fall/wintry ones
7. Eating lunch outside as often as possible (storing up sunshine)
8. Buying new leggings (a steal!)
9. Rediscovering my scarf collection
10. Lining up a little seasonal reading: Anne of Windy Poplars and some new fall releases by beloved authors
11. Urging far-away friends to come savor the New England fall with us
12. Enjoying seasonal flavors: pumpkin, cinnamon, apple cider, caramel, chai

How are you falling into fall this year?

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I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately. It’s partly a reaction to sitting all day at a computer, building and editing web pages, which are real but not tangible, and I can only rarely cross them off my list as “done.” This sitting and clicking also makes me restless – after being sedentary most of the day, I want to get home and stir something up, even if it’s only flour, sugar, butter and their fellow baking ingredients.

The other night, I wanted something sweet but not too sweet, so I turned to this recipe from my friend Ron Morgan, who co-directs the study abroad program in Oxford where I spent a blissful semester as a student and later a happy year as an employee. Ron occasionally whips up a batch of these for the students there, and they are pure, oaty heaven with a squeeze of honey, a dollop of jam or a pat of melty butter.

Fittingly, it was pouring rain the night I made these, and suddenly I was back in Ron and Janine’s aqua-walled living room, watching Ron bring in a cookie sheet of (slightly burnt) scones from the kitchen. And I was also downstairs in the basement kitchen, mixing these up for the five guys with whom I shared the floor, and for whom I loved to bake, as much and as often as I could.

Of course, I do much of my baking now for one boy – my very appreciative husband. Apparently I’d never made these for him before – but we both declared them winners, and so did the friends with whom we shared them.

Ron’s Oaty Scones (original source unknown)

Makes about 20 medium-sized scones

Dry Mix
7 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups oats (not quick-cooking oats)
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup baking powder
1 TBS baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cream of tartar

Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
8 oz plain yogurt or sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk

Combine 3 1/4 cups of dry mix (you won’t use it all) with wet ingredients, and stir until combined. Place 1″ (or so) balls of dough onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 16-18 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

Serve with butter, honey or jam. Enjoy!

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I am a longtime lover of anything raspberry – ever since I used to stain my fingers and collect lots of chigger bites picking berries from the bushes in my grandparents’ front yard. I am also a lover of scones – so when I saw this recipe on Sarah’s delightful site that combined the two, I had to make it. (Especially since we are at the end of raspberry season.) And I’ve made it three or four times since.

My scones are not pretty, like the photo on Sarah’s site; they are not neat or tidy or wedge-shaped, as we Americans seem to think scones should be. (Scones in the UK tend to be round, whether tidily cut out or rather heaped up.) These scones are messy and fruity, piled-up dough stained crimson with blotches of my favorite fruit. And they are completely delicious.

The dough is a pretty basic one, I think, but then you get to heap luscious red raspberries on top of it:

You knead it a few times to fold the berries in, and then they come out like this:

I’m no great food photographer, but I assure you, these scones are delectable.

Fast Raspberry Scones
from Everyday Food

Makes 20

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk [I used nearly 3/4 cup milk with 2 tsp lemon juice]
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries (6 ounces)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, pulse together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. [I just stirred it together in a regular mixing bowl.] Add butter and pulse until pea-size pieces form. [I stirred the butter in, then rubbed it in with my fingers till the pieces were small enough.] In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg yolk. Slowly pour buttermilk mixture through feed tube into processor [or bowl, in my case], pulsing until dough just comes together.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle raspberries on top. Knead three times to fold in raspberries (there may be loose pieces of dough and a stray berry or two). Gather and pat dough into a 1-inch-thick square and cut or pull apart into 2-inch pieces. Place pieces, about 2 inches apart, on two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets and sprinkle tops with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let scones cool slightly on sheets on wire racks. Serve warm or at room temperature. [They’re good with butter.] Store in an airtight container, up to a few days.

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