Cornmeal peach scones and something of a manifesto

August 1, 2012 § 45 Comments

Ok guys, hold onto your hats because this one came out a little unbidden.  In trying to talk about our big plans for what we’re doing next (soon!), I couldn’t help but go into some of the background thinking behind these plans, and it turned into something of a manifesto.  Now, I may be a philosophizer and a wax eloquenter, but I’m not usually one to write a manifesto.  A manifesto will nearly always rub at least someone the wrong way, and I have in general lived my life bending over backwards to try never to rub anyone the wrong way, to please everyone, to be safe.  

But I’m finally, finally starting to realize that it’s not worth it.  Not if it means you sacrifice the truth.  The tag line of this blog is “fitting real food into real life,” and, well, it wouldn’t be real life if I didn’t speak about my truths.  So, it may have turned out to be a bit manifesto-y, but hey! there’s a really good scone recipe waiting for you at the end (Seriously.  Really good.  Moist and tender on the inside with those perfectly crunchy golden edges that are the best part of a scone.).  Next time I’ll be back with a more normal, chirpy blog post, but for now, deep breath, here we go…

I brought these scones to a goodbye brunch at my office a few days ago.  We were celebrating and sending off three of our colleagues who are on to new things.  All three of them did great work and will truly be missed.  Though I wasn’t included in the goodbyes, it felt like the time for me to say goodbye to everyone as well.  We’re leaving.  We’re moving!

I’m not done with my dissertation yet.  Ha.  Quite the opposite.  What was once a wade through data up to my knees has become thrashing in data up over my head.  I’m doing a little egg beater kicking, a little elementary backstroke, working on finding the best way for me to swim through it.  But, it won’t be happening here.  Joel and I have decided we’re moving to Minnesota.  In less than a month.  Yikes!

We’ve been thinking and talking about it for a while now, and finally things conspired to remind us that these are our lives, and we need to live them in a way that is honest and real for us.  Now, I don’t mean anything against Boston at all.  It’s a really great city.  A great place.  But, it’s not our place.  And, in staying here, no matter how hard we try not to, neither of us can escape our programmed slide into the speedy rails of achievement orientation. « Read the rest of this entry »

Applesauce and cheddar bread

April 21, 2012 § 11 Comments

I wish I were better at canning.  And not because I’m buying in to some fantastical homesteading fantasy that’s just part of the zeitgeist.  I swear.  Ok, well, I totally do fantasize about homesteading, we’ve talked about this before.  But not for the self-sufficiency part of it, which is what we as a populace are being accused of.  I’m way too communal of a creature for that.  Homesteading appeals because it is a way of feeling things again, of feeling physical strain toward a goal and of feeling something you’ve made in your hands.

But, the real reason why I wish I were better at canning is so that I can do like my friend Anna did the other night as we were all finishing up dinner.  Something in the conversation seemed to trigger a spring in her mind, and she leapt up from the table exclaiming, “do you want some really amazing applesauce that I canned that tastes just like fall?”

« Read the rest of this entry »

Ginger banana bread with cardamom crunch topping

January 12, 2012 § 36 Comments

Banana bread and I go way back.  Way.

It was “my thing” for a while, actually.

Growing up, my mother’s baking repertoire was very nearly purebred Norwegian, and concentrated solely on holidays.  The rest of the time the oven’s use was confined to roasts and braises.  If it wasn’t boller, birthday cake, or a Christmas cookie, it didn’t get baked at our house.

But, every now and then at a friend’s house I would be invited to have a bite of something wonderful for a snack.  A lace-thin slice of intensely moist, banana flavored, bread-cake, shot through with the little black squiggles that banana bread develops, and now and then with melting chocolatey chunks.  Best. Snack. Ever.  I was convinced of it.  I would dream of it often during the long, stark periods during which I had to do without.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Spiced cinnamon sugar breakfast puffs

December 20, 2011 § 24 Comments

On the off chance that your holiday breakfast plan is not yet inscribed in stone; in case you aren’t already bound and determined to have a strata, or frittata, or sticky buns, or perhaps puffy pancakes or spoon bread; or maybe you’d like to just add some icing to your giant, decadent, multi-course holiday brunch cake; well then dear friends, may I venture a suggestion.

I actually feel a bit ashamed that I’ve been holding this recipe from you for so long.  It’s a recipe that may, in fact, deserve a little shouting from the rooftops.  And, it’s a recipe with a history, which means stories.

I didn’t know any of the stories when I first started baking the original version (this is a wholly different iteration, but we’ll get to that later), I just knew that I had the recipe copied down on an index card from my friend, and I had labeled it “breakfast puffs.”

« Read the rest of this entry »

Simply (the best) raspberry muffins

July 20, 2011 § 16 Comments

Photo by James Ransom

This is the story of some muffins.  It’s a story I almost wasn’t going to tell you because these muffins disappeared almost as soon as they happened, leaving nary a crumb and certainly no trace of photographic evidence (that’s what morning and house guests will do to muffins, you see).  And it’s very rare I cook something twice, so if it’s gone, it’s gone.

Gone-ish.  Sometimes I jot down notes from the recipe.  Sometimes I share it.  And sometimes then, the dish reappears.  That’s what these muffins did.  They resurfaced, emblazoned with a badge of honor: “simply the best raspberry muffins.”

Photo by James Ransom

« Read the rest of this entry »

Strawberry buttermilk bread

May 26, 2011 § 20 Comments

I woke up yesterday morning and something felt funny. It felt different. At first I couldn’t put my finger on it, and then I suddenly realized that it was sunny. Sun! Glorious sun! We pretty much hadn’t seen the sun for two weeks, and I had really almost forgotten what it felt like to wake up to light coming trickling through the windows.

The world felt airy, fresh, benevolent.

And then I found myself in an amazing fleet of bicycles on my way into work. I love bike traffic jams! Even if I get stuck cycling behind someone who’s slower than me, it fills me with glee to see that people are making the choice to get out and ride to get to work instead of automatically choosing their cars.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Jammy scones

May 10, 2011 § 4 Comments

Look!  Look!  I baked with spelt!  And it was so tasty.  This is probably not that exciting to anyone else.  Most of you can probably eat things like regular spelt, and barley, and oats and therefore don’t find yourself standing in the baking aisle of the grocery store absently gazing at the packages of whole grain flours (I might even have caressed a sack of teff, but we’re not going to talk about that), pining after their toothy, nutty flavors.  Oh, Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur Flour, how you and your wide selections of grains move me!

Not that I dislike plain white flour.  Not at all.  I mean, it’s the stuff croissants and baguettes are made of!  But, sometimes both my taste buds and my nutrition-y conscience wish I could eat whole grains.  Luckily for them, during my last dreamy foray down the baking aisle I stumbled upon something magical, bags of sprouted whole wheat and whole spelt.  They’re selling sprouted grains now?!  Cool!  I snatched up a bag of the spelt, balked briefly at the price, put it down, and then picked it back up and put it into my cart anyway.

I eat a lot of sprouted grains in the form of the sprouted grain bread that you can get from the freezer in the natural section of the grocery store.  Now, while not overall too bad – especially as toast – this bread does have hints of cardboard in its flavor.  However, having some of my own sprouted grain to bake with seemed like it would open up all sorts of wondrous possibilities.  The most important among these possibilities being scones (though I’m also thinking now that a spelt banana bread would be delicious).  (Oh, and also (you know, while I’m using parentheticals and all), don’t worry if you don’t have sprouted spelt around, you can also use regular spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour for these beauties.)

« Read the rest of this entry »

Pear and fig morning muffins

April 1, 2011 § 15 Comments

These muffins are exceptional.  I got up at 6 in the morning to bake these muffins.  Though even if I hadn’t, I think they would still taste as though they were kissed by the blushing early morning sunlight.

Of course, I didn’t get up early to make them knowing how lovely they would be.  I got up early to make them because I’ve been out most of the evenings this week and haven’t been able to cook dinner, so I had a strong urge to get my hands into something with a little more to it than frying an egg.  I woke up early, the dawn just starting to creep over the trees outside our window, and I thought of muffins.  So, I baked some and had them fresh and steaming on the table for breakfast at 7.

The urge to bake muffins was, in fact, odd because most of the time I find muffins terribly disappointing.  I have a not insignificant scone addiction but no real love for muffins.  You see, I have an idea of what a muffin ought to be, and on the infrequent occasions when I bother to try one it always falls far short of my expectations, usually being overly sweet, heavy, and tough.  When I first moved to Boston, I had a roommate who would bake these banana blueberry muffins, which sounds generally promising, however they were so heavy and dry and all their flavors were so messily jumbled together, I took to wanting to run away whenever I saw them sitting out on the counter.

Not these.  These are moist, light, and unbelievably tender.  The crumb is so delicate it borders on fragile.  And they have only the smallest trace hint of sweet, which serves as a subtle backdrop for the heady, natural sweetness of the pear and fig that is packed into every bite. « Read the rest of this entry »

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with quick bread at Five And Spice.