Sunday, September 27, 2009

Trading in the suitcase for some scones

Now that I'm out of it, I can finally let myself feel it, admit it: the second half of my twenties really sucked. I mean, really, really sucked. At the time, I pushed so hard just to get myself through it, I couldn't let myself acknowledge just how bad it was.

I spent three years packing my suitcase, forced to evacuate one life for another, and then another, and another. Just me and that suitcase, terrified beyond measure, without the luxury of giving in to the fear. I was in an emergency, I can see now, which involved a lot of job changes, boyfriend changes, plane tickets to and from last-minute solutions. Maybe if I move to New York I'll find my place. Maybe if I get out of television I'll be better. Maybe if I just go home I'll find my way.

So I packed, over and over, never convinced that where I was going was really the right place, but going just the same.

Until the last time that I packed.

Finally, at long last, I know I am where I'm supposed to be. And being here has made it worth the road it took to get here.

For one thing, there is the man by my side. This man who makes me laugh, makes me breakfast, makes me family.

For another thing, there is this baby growing inside of me, this wonder of all wonders, this tiny and tremendous thing that makes me sing in the car on the way to work and has me crying at every commercial.

But mostly, there is me. This now-woman who knows how lucky she is, and knows what she's done to get here, who knows better than to ever take this for granted. I am grateful for myself, that I made it through the packing and unpacking and let myself arrive here, in this imperfectly perfect place, where I can finally put down my suitcase for good. It might sound weird to say that I am grateful for myself, but that's how I feel. I feel lucky to be able to feel this lucky. To be able to look around and recognize it. To know it when I see it.

Now that I'm here, this doesn't mean there won't be surprises: in fact, I expect there will be many, for good and for bad. It's just that for once, I know that the next time I pull down my suitcase from its place in my closet, it will eventually be returned to it's same safe place.

And of course all of this -- this reflection, these thoughts, this gratitude -- makes its way into my kitchen. Suddenly, every recipe I make seems more important, more relevant, sends me into daydreams of my future: Will this be the cake I make for that first birthday? Will these be the pancakes requested every weekend? I've started wondering (now that I can imagine what my own life might look like), which foods will end up on the list of family favorites.

These scones are a shoo-in.




Marilyn, my beautiful friend from Simmer Till Done, offered up these Double Chocolate Ginger Scones on her blog recently, and I made them myself (with her expertise guiding me) this morning. And as the cocoa powder and sugar swirled in front of me, I imagined small, future hands reaching up to the counter, reaching for another, and another, feeling safe and secure, and certain that there would always be something delicious on the counter to reach for. This is what home is: knowing you're in just the right place, wherever that may be. When I bit into the warm, gooey and crumbly triangle, and imagined tiny hands with melted chocolate on them, I knew that I was home. And, man, it feels good to be here.



Double Chocolate Ginger Scones
by Marilyn via Simmer Till Done

These were my first attempt at scones, and thanks to all of Marilyn's wisdom, they were miraculously perfect. I chopped up a bar of dark chocolate instead of using chocolate chips, but only because my pregnancy-induced need for darkest chocolate made me. She has a wonderful tutorial on how to make the dough here which will help any scone novice. I am leaving her recipe completely unaltered -- why mess with perfection?

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 oz. cold butter, cubed (12 tablespoons)
1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup semi-sweet (or darker) chocolate chips
1/2 cup roughly chopped crystallized ginger, in chunks

extra sugar for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl.

Cut in butter. You can do this one of two ways:

Electric stand mixer With the flour mixture in the stand mixer bowl and the paddle blade attached, turn on the slowest speed and slowly add butter chunks, mixing to a coarse meal texture, with only a few remaining large flour-butter crumbs.

(or)

By hand Using a sharp-bladed pastry cutter tool, or two knives, “cut” the butter pieces into the flour mixture until you have a coarse meal texture.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, and vanilla.

Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients by hand or with stand mixer on low, using “on-off” mixing. Stop just long enough to add sugar, chocolate chips, and crystallized ginger, then continue mixing briefly to form a soft and sticky dough. Scrape dough onto lightly floured surface and turn over a few times to combine, adding flour if necessary.

Form scones You can divide dough in half, form each piece to a 1″ thick round, and cut into equal wedges, or you can pat to 1″ thick and use floured cutters for rounds or triangles.

Transfer scones to cookie sheet pan, preferably lined with parchment paper.

If desired, brush the top of each scone with a small amount of milk or cream. Sprinkle the extra white sugar thickly over tops. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until set and tops are golden brown. For the chocolate-ginger variety, watch the bottom of the scones for darkened color. Cool on baking sheet a few minutes, then transfer to racks, and serve.

* For a look at scone-mixing process (same method) visit this post: Scone, Scone on the Range

Note: use the best cocoa powder you can find for a rich chocolate dough. Cocoa tends to dry out baked goods; these hold very well for several days wrapped at room temperature, but after 1-2 days are best briefly reheated in a microwave, for just a few seconds. This also gives you the added, insanely pleasurable bonus of gooey chocolate chips.




7 comments:

  1. Sara, I'm glad you feel at home. This being the fourth (yes, FOURTH!) time I've lived in Seattle, I get where you're coming from. The past couple of years have given me a new understanding of myself and my place in the world, and I'm so grateful for that insight and the life that I have now.

    These scones look delicious. I must have them. :) Have a great week!

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  2. Sara, I'm so glad you had a good first scone outing, and that I got to play a tiny little part. A family growing up in your home will be happy, lucky, and very well-fed.

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  3. What a beautiful post! I have been moving and moving too, always looking for that place where I can start a home.

    The scones look absolutely delicious.

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  4. Melanie - You're right... it's funny how getting a little lost will help you find out where you are.

    Marilyn - Seriously, your recipe made me feel like an ol' scone pro.

    Emma - The scones ARE delicious :) And easy to make. Anywhere you make them is bound to feel like home.

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  5. Nice to find you here- I agree- I must say that I fight it, but baking and babies might just be the most grounding thing around.

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  6. This made me cry. So beautiful, so true, so similar to so many of my own experiences (save the suitcase part--I kept my trauma centered in L.A. in my 20s!) Thank you for a wonderful post, and for props to our mutually-adored Marilyn. She's the best.

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  7. i just started reading your blog and already i've cried 3 times, i've thought i remember those feelings and want to make all the recipes i've seen so far! thank you for writing and i can't wait to make the scones!!! i hope i have all the ingredients to do it tomorrow

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