Scones and Jammies. Jammies and Scones.

Day 91

Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves how to make room for them, to love them, and to live, really live.”
Anna Quindlen – A Short Guide to a Happy Life


The gravity of the situation hit us when we realized that we only had 30 minutes to walk 16 New York City blocks, through the crowds of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade while dragging a 5-year old by the hand. You see, our “travel stroller” was safe and sound back in our garage 3,000 miles away. I had failed to load it when we were whisked away by the airport shuttle in the early morning hours the day before. In my defense, we don’t often use a stroller anymore but in this case…we were desperate and every painful block we walked at a turtle pace just upped the stress level. Finally, I picked him up and started running knowing that this little maneuver would cost me in the form of physical therapy bills in the future but I had to weigh that against the cost of the tickets for the Broadway show we were trying to make. Meanwhile, the older kids were “big-eyed” passing through the St. Paddy’s Day revelers. An innocent, “What’s wrong with these people?” question led to an out-of-breath discussion on what it means to have your stomach pumped and why. Stripping off coats, scarves, sweaters and dripping with perspiration, we plopped down in our seats in time for the lights to go down and for my five-year old to reach out in amazement and gently touch the elephant as he walked by.

Diptych-Central Park
We darted out of the taxi and dashed through the Columbus Circle vendors, trying to make sure we still had everybody in the chaos of the moment and trying to avoid being hit by the next oncoming taxi. We had left my sweetie and his “mini-me” back on Fifth Avenue, doing what they do best and enjoying their “Daddy/Daughter” time together. As the crowded street disappeared behind us, my sister-in-law and I took in the magnificent splendor of Vaux and Olmsted’s envisioned oasis in this modern-day Rome. Not a leaf to be found on a single tree and yet, Central Park was dazzling in her winter garb. The boys couldn’t believe their luck. After days of pounding the pavement. Of being told to “stay close”, “hold my hand”, “be careful”…here, there were acres of grass to run through. Monolithic rocks to climb. Playgrounds to be discovered. Snow cones to be eaten and even, new friends to be made. My sister-in-law and I simply sat there…together…soaking in the sun. Watching the boys and their unabashed joy of just being in the moment. Watching the way the sun glinted and sparkled off the surrounding buildings. Watching the silhouettes of the winter trees cast their long shadows across our path. Enjoying the humble entertainment of the many street performers. As the sun sank lower and lower behind the buildings, we glanced one last time at the hazy light settling over the park. Then, we turned away, reluctantly hailed a cab and headed “home” to meet the shoppers.

Knowing that, while I may have a million different thoughts swirling around in my head at any given time, the majority of them have to do with food and so, arriving in Connecticut, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law made sure I saw, felt, tasted, talked about and enjoyed…food. We dined at The River Tavern in charming Chester. We were treated to my brother-in-law’s expert grilling skills which we have sorely missed. We moaned over the Chicken & Artichoke lasagna from the extremely popular Pasta Vita. We thoroughly enjoyed our pints of Samuel Adams at The Black Seal in darling, patriotic Essex. I met the woman behind White Gate Farm whose delicious organic products (especially her hot sauce) I’ve been enjoying since receiving a basketful for Christmas. And, I was treated to perhaps the best cup of clam chowder I have ever had at Tavern on Main in Westport…and coming from an Oregonian who is surrounded by restaurants touting “Best Clam Chowder,” I don’t give that compliment out lightly. But, when all is said and done, I believe that it was the morning I sat in my mother-in-law’s kitchen. Still in my jammies. The kids and their cousins running around the 250-year old home. Mollie and Annie, our furry family members, wedging their golden retriever-selves under the table. And me, my sweetie, his Mom and his sister, sitting around the kitchen table. Drinking coffee. Tea. Enjoying Nanny’s freshly baked scones, bananas sliced on the bias and the company of each other…that I cherish most. No rush to be anywhere. Talking about this and that. Talking as if no time at all had passed since they made the move back east almost three years ago. Just enjoying the simple act of being together…until the 5-year olds started throwing paper.

Day 87

Nanny’s Scrumptious Scones – Good with Jam. Better with Jammies

These scones are perfectly light and airy. Not the heavy dense ones that sit in your stomach like a hunk of cement. They are, of course, a natural choice for a leisurely breakfast on a Sunday morning but I have found they are equally as delicious as a late afternoon treat during the week whether you are at home or at work. And, keep in mind that scones aren’t meant to be perfect. Don’t worry if all the bits don’t come together. Just do the best you can.

2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt (table or kosher)
5 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 c currants
1 tbsp orange zest, minced
1 c heavy cream

1 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar

Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl. Whisk together.

Use your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few, slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in currants and orange zest. Next, stir in heavy cream with a fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. (My ball wasn’t sticky but it didn’t seem to affect the outcome at all.) Press the dough down to form a thick, disk. An inch thick or so. Cut disk into 8 wedges. Place wedges on an ungreased baking sheet and chill about 15-20 minutes or while your oven is heating up.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.

After chilling, brush the tops of the scones with the remaining tbsp of heavy cream and then, lightly sprinkle them with sugar.

Bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. They also freeze well. Enjoy.

PS: This is my first attempt at posting diptychs – two photographs side-by-side. If anyone notices that they are taking forever to load I would so appreciate it if you would let me know. Just leave a comment below, send me an email or ping me on Facebook. Thanks so much….

All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010