staff of life . . .

by mulberryshoots

Sometimes I can get roiling around in my head about deep life issues. That’s a sure sign to do something else, like cooking. The other day, I bought an oatmeal scone with maple glaze at a local bakery. It was one of the best things I ever ate. I looked it up online and sure enough there was a 1999 recipe for maple oatmeal scones by Ina Garten. As per usual with some of her recipes, the ingredients were so rich I couldn’t believe it: white flour, wheat flour, instant oats, a POUND of unsalted butter cut up into little bits, buttermilk, FOUR eggs, maple syrup.

Since C. was coming out for dinner and staying overnight, I thought it might be a nice treat to make the scones so we could have them with afternoon tea when she arrived. The recipe was a little tricky because, as with pie crusts, it’s important to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients so that the result is little bits of butter still showing. I did this by carefully pulsing the flours with the cut up butter in my Cuisinart and it was perfect. What was harder to do was to mix the dry and the wet ingredients together because the bowl I was using wasn’t big enough to stir everything together. So, I ended up piling the dough onto a board with pastry paper on it and gently mixing it by hand. As you know, handling dough just toughens it (as in making cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning) so I was careful just to turn it over, pressing it together gently to incorporate the dry with the sticky dough. I rolled the dough out and cut it with my old fluted round cutter and baked them in the oven. I made a maple syrup glaze, using less confectioners sugar and more syrup with a tiny bit of vanilla. Sprinkled the tops with oats as Ina’s recipe suggested.

When they were all done, I wasn’t sure it had been worth all that effort, but C. said later she thought they were one of the best things I’ve ever made (which is saying something since I cook a lot.) G. also gave them out to his family and a friend in need down the street. SHE called afterwards to thank him for the scones because they were “so delicious.” So okay, maybe I’ll make them again. The next time, I’ll use a larger SQUARE fluted cutter that I ordered on Amazon. We’ll have them when we get together over the holidays with fresh fruit salad, bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese, greek yogurt pancakes with maple syrup. M. (C.’s sister) had sent us the recipe for the pancakes–and C. and I had them for breakfast on Sunday. They’re slightly tangy, super tender and out of this world!

Last week, I had also seen a recipe in a British magazine at Barnes and Noble for homemade ginger ale. It reminded me of the concept of making tisanes in England with scented geranium, lemon verbena and so on. The recipe required cooking equal proportions of honey, chopped up fresh ginger root and water, a half cup of each into a saucepan. I used more ginger root and sliced it up in very fine slivers. Boil for 15 minutes and then let cool. When ready to serve, use a pretty glass (these sweet hobnail tumblers are from Anthropologie,) fill with ice, spoon 3 tablespoons of the strained ginger syrup and stir together with very fizzy club soda. Top with fresh mint.

Although we were planning to have hot Lapsang Souchang tea with the scones, the afternoon was still pretty balmy so we opted for drinking the iced ginger ale with the scones. A nice combination as it turned out. So I thought I’d share these recipes with you today. Enjoy!