Standing Still (And Metaphorical Scones)

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I’ve been a bit melancholy lately.   I blame it on the impending equinox. I feel restless.  I’ve made up my mind to quit this blog about five times.  Every morning I want an adventure but feel like staying home.  I want to wear sweaters and run through piles of leaves but am mourning the ending of our sunshine-filled days by the poolside.  I’ve gone through my closet three times already and have started a donation pile based on colors I don’t like anymore.

My solace is that the weather is also being moody.  Cool grey mornings followed by muggy afternoons with sunny rainstorms.  I have no need of mirrors anymore, I just look out the window.

Transitions are hard. As a child constant change was the norm, we moved every few years and sometimes to a completely different country – Germany.  Also inculde Texas in the category.  During my childhood, nomadic adventurism wrote itself into my genetic code.  Then one day I stopped moving, fell in love, and decided to call one place home.

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I am grateful for this standstill, for the opportunity to lay down roots and nurture a life for my family.  It is a life I always imagined as a little girl, having a physical home, family and friends close enough for holidays and weekend gatherings.  However, as I begin to pull out boxes of sweaters and put away straw hats,  my brain and my heart begin colluding without my permission.  They start whispering, nagging “Shouldn’t we be going somewhere? Doing something life changing? Something spectacularly terrifying?”

I have no idea how to stand still while the world around me changes, how to be a constant amid fluctuation.  I am a novice in accepting small changes, such as the shift in seasons, without becoming impossibly capricious, dramatically introspective, and turning every detail into a miniature life-crisis.  Not all great things in life need to be significantly life-altering, although they often are.  The little things grow into monumental milestones and journeys cannot be had without thousands of individual footsteps.  I am learning how to embrace these little things, the simple and quiet things of my life, in a grandiose way.

I’m sure my funky mood will last for a few more weeks.  My restlessness will have me thinking about deleting my Facebook account once or twice, throwing out the couch because it takes up far too much room, and getting bangs, which I already tried this year and hated.  I think my best defense is to replace these these urges with positive action.  And so,  I am taking the recent advice of one of my dearest: to enjoy life, stop over thinking, and “cook your heart out.”

Storm Clouds

 

The kitchen is a calming place for me.  With every move, my mother always first unpacked the beds and then the kitchen.  Any place could begin feeling like home once you had a place to lay your head and fill your belly.  There is something grounding about cooking and baking, despite whatever significant or insignificant thing is on my mind, the kitchen is where I am again cohered.  All I have to do is follow a recipe, new or beloved, and I get a pleasurably predictable result.

I decided to make a favorite recipe: scones also caught in the cross-hairs of the seasonal transition.  (I always love  metaphorical food.)   Strawberry Rosemary Scones are a wonderful combination of summer-y sweet strawberry and autumnal herbaceous rosemary.  Unlike heartier scones – which I enjoy – that require some clotted cream and tea to balance out, these scones are tender and sweet; perfect for enjoying with a cup of hot tea or cold milk depending on what the weather calls for.  Moreover, they are perfect for diverting me from re-arranging our bedroom on my own.  Again.

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Strawberry Rosemary Scones

2 cups Flour

½ cup Sugar

2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon Salt

6 tablespoons Cold Butter, cut into pieces

1 cup Heavy Cream

1/3 cup Strawberry Preserves

In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary, and salt to combine.  Add the butter pieces and pulse just until crumbly.  Transfer mixture to a bowl.  Slowly stir in the heavy cream to form a dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 10” circle about ½ “ thick.  Use a 3” cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out the scones.  Place the rounds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, an inch apart.  Gently bring together leftover dough, roll out again, and cut out more scones.  Discard any remaining dough.

Using the back of a teaspoon, press an indentation into the center of each scone.  Fill each indentation with a teaspoon of the strawberry preserves.  Bake in a 375°F oven for 18 to 20 minutes, the edges of the scones will be golden.  Cool on a wire rack before serving.

This makes about 14 scones.

 

Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis  (The original recipe has a glaze for the scones.  I prefer mine without.)

 

 

 

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Photo Credit – The picture of LM smelling the flowers was taken by my friend, JB, at the Dale City Farmer’s Market.

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An Impromtu Picnic

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There is nothing quite like an impromptu picnic to cure the ennui caused by a long rainy week.  And today, it was a cure that the Little Man and I desperately needed.  I packed away an old alumni blanket, placed our lunch into little containers, and we ventured out to a park in search of a shady tree and a little fresh air.

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I had already planned on making these Chicken & Honey Mustard Pinwheels but the clover field and butterflies in which we enjoyed our lunch was little additional pleasure.  I must confess I am terrible at following directions. (Although, I really shouldn’t say “confess” since I am quite aware and comfortable about this character trait.*)  I forgot to soften the mascarpone cheese and added lemon juice instead of zest to the dressing –  making it more of a spread, less of a drizzle. I do think when it comes to any future wraps I will always use lavash bread. It is fabulously sturdy and chewy, full of flavor, and frankly makes tortillas seem like a ridiculous option for housing sandwiches.

These little pinwheels pack well and are prefect for small hands (and delicate in larger ones).   I packed along some crunchy carrots, a sour-sweet plum, and a few salty chips to complete our al fresco feast.  Little Man tried dirt for dessert.  I don’t recommend it.  I don’t think he would either.

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Chicken & Honey-Mustard Pinwheels

½ cup (4 oz.) Mascarpone Cheese

2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

2 tablespoons Honey

Lemon Juice (just a quick squeeze)

Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

1 ½ cups Arugula, slightly torn

2 cups of cooked, shredded Chicken Breast

4 Lavash Breads

Combine the cheese, mustard, honey, and lemon juice with a wooden spoon; season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the lavash with the honey mustard mixture. Sprinkle over arugula and chicken. Roll up the long side of the lavash and cut into slices.

Serves 4.

– This is a barely adapted version from Feel Good Food by Giada de Laurentiis (pg. 108). You can also view the recipe here.

 

*Essentially, when it comes to cooking, I just go with the flow.  And my instructions will portray this attribute of mine.  If you ever need any clarification, please do not hesitate to ask.

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