Saturday, February 05, 2022

Orange Cranberry Scones

The Recipe for Orange Cranberry Scones


2 cups (250g) of flour, with extra for the work surface, when rolling out the dough

1/2 cup (100g) of granulated sugar

2.5 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp orange zest, and this is about what you get from one orange

1/2 cup (115g) frozen butter (we had salted)

1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream

1 large egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 full cup (125g) frozen cranberries (Maria used dried cranberries once. She soaked them in water to soften them a bit.)

Orange Glaze

1 cup (120g) powdered sugar

2-3 Tb (30-45ml) orange juice. Maria likes the zing of lemon juice, so she added the juice of 1/2 a lemon to this.


Combine the dry ingreiduents and zest and whisk to combine. Grate the frozen butter, then use a pastry cutter to combine the butter with the dry ingredients, or do like Maria and use your hands. You are going for a crumbly consistency. This can rest in the refrigerator while you mix the wet ingredients in a seperate bowl. Now, whisk the heavy cream, the egg, and the vanilla. Bring out the flour/butter mixture, and drizzle the egg and cream over it, and add the frozen cranberries. Combine all of this, pouring it onto a counter, and with some flour on the work surface and your hands, work the dough into a ball... if it's too sticky sprinkle some flour, or if it's too dry 1 or 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Work this into an 8" inch round, then cut it into 8 wedges, with a knife or scraper. Maria lined a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat (parchment works, too) and set the wedges on the sheet to refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius.) When the oven is ready and the wedges have chilled, bake them 2-3 inches apart for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are golden. Get them to a cooling rack, and prepare your glaze. Glaze: Whisk the sugar and citrus juice to desired thickness, then drizzle over the scones.

This recipe came from the Culinary Arts class, and Maria baked them for us at about six months into the Stay At Home Season. They were a such a delight... for one, because they taste delicious, and secondly, because it was lovely to have something new, and to enjoy it mindfully, appreciatively. That was in September, 2020, and I have cherished the memory ever since. I have been giddy since bedtime, when I learned that Maria planned to make them again, today. She froze the butter, and double checked that we had fresh cranberries in the freezer (which, obviously, means they're frozen fresh cranberries!) She and I took a flashlight late last night, and trekked to the end of the garden in search of oranges. We thought it was very cold out there, but we laughed at ourselves thinking of the freezing temperatures in the rest of the country! We harldy suffer, but it's all relative, right?
The first time I had these, I wrote, "Maria's scones came out pretty, appealingly pretty. By the time I got to sit down and enjoy my serving, I decided to make it a mindful, special moment. I made coffee, I brought out a pretty plate, I sat at the dining table. I am so glad I was intentional, because her baking was transportive. Each bite made me recall the pleasure of cafes, of going out, of being at a bakery, some place you find at the end of the day, on a tree-lined street. My thoughts wandered. I thought of novels, heroines, linen aprons, garden kitchens, the waning light of a softening summer, the painstaking saving of fruits, nuts, spices, in preparation of holidays, Winter. Maria's baking made me feel hopeful, thankful, sated. That's a lot to derive from a scone, but it was a very pretty scone, and delicious, too, and I am reminded of all the good that comes of slowing down, being mindful. It's a gift to take notice, to enjoy all the layers." I can't think of much more to add to that, except to recommend the tea Bambi prepared to go with our treat. She didn't only brew the tea, it's one she also blended, using Adagio teas. (This is not an ad. We simply enjoy teas and blends from Adagio Teas, and her mix is public, if anyone is interested in ordering it.) "Blended With Rooibos Tea, Honeybush Tea, Orange, Rose Hips, Hibiscus, Lemon Grass, Marigold Flowers, Natural Lemon Flavor, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Apple Pieces, Natural Apricot Flavor, Natural Orange Flavor & Apricots." Bambi's Torben tea paired very nicely with Maria's Orange Cranberry scones.

Tuesday, February 01, 2022


It hasn't been strictly all work and no play for Geoff. Between meetings, trouble shooting bugs, writing code, and anticipating big developments at work, Geoff stole away for some more moments of sheer glee, operating the work platform he rented. He even got me up there. It was worth it for the view, especially looking east toward those back country views! Geoff wanted to take me to the height where there is a panorama view of the ocean, but I settled for the view between the trees. I think Paul was the most daring, and his curiousity paid off. So besides being indispensable with replacing the 100lb pound window, Geoff made as much use of the lift as he could think of, and I'm glad he made some time to play, and enjoy the novelty of this opportunity. We jokingly debate which heavy equipment rental we will do next.
Here is a whole other view, not from our driveway. On our way to dinner, Geoff took a detour to see the blimp. It must have been headed back to the hanger in Carson, after the day covering the golf event at Torrey Pines.
I am fortunate, and can garden year-round, and I imagine that in places where winter has been too much, already, this must sound wonderful. It is wonderful, and also relentless! I think, without planning or intending to, I gave myself a year off. I've done so little in the garden. The first year of lockdown put me in overdrive, anxious to get the most out of our growing seasons. Then, by the second year I couldn't do it... physically, nor mentally. When I felt apologetic about not sowing seeds, or pulling weeds, I would rationalize and remind myself that gardens need to rest. Nature can restore herself. It wasn't as though nothing was growing, or any harm was being done... other than things looking very scrappy. Since the new year, I have been a leisurely gardener. I have been slowly, gently putting bulbs in beds, and pulling up the more egregious weeds. I trimmed the oregano, which had grown and died back, grown again, so many times, it was a shrub, a privacy privet. I planted peas, lettuce, and a dill. I have more flowers to plant. I am studying all sorts of fine leafed plants that may or may not be chamomile, or carrots, or more weeds. At least they're green. I believe in the correlation between happiness and gardening, so I am glad to be busy in the dirt, even if it is slow, sporadic, random.
Inside, things are not as slow. Not as slow, at least, where Mike is working. He's almost done painting the bathroom between Maria and William's rooms. And the ceiling in the hall, where he installed the ladder into the attic is all done. Geoff ordered plywood, so we can make a floor up there... something strong and easy, mostly for safety. And. What else... the big window is in, and Mike will be trimming it up on the inside. And, then I think it will be time to tear out our bathroom. Do I sound cool, calm, and collected? Haha! Every tile I chose has arrived and is waiting in the hallway, along with the safety bar, I ordered for the shower. Yesterday, I thanked myself for all the work I had done earlier, clearing out and organizing our bathroom cabinets and drawers. Those efforts made packing things up much easier. Only a few things remain, and when Mike says he's ready for demo, I am ready, too. Ready, but nervous! It's been a nice bathroom, except for the tile disentegrating, and the huge tub no one wants to climb in and out of. It's so nice we can update things in there. And the job is in very capable hands. I shouldn't worry. But I worry. I'm not even sure what I am worried about. It's going to be loud. And messy, but I can't really be concerned about messes, because Mike is so mindful and keeps things as orderly as possible. Maybe it's because we have so many things going on, and I am keenly aware that I am only barely (if at all) keeping things straight in my head, checking all the boxes. Ok. I am just going to stop here. And take some deep breaths.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day, friends. And today is Imbolc? I love holidays, celebrations, symbolic gestures to honor life's seasons, and rhythms. I read the loveliest account of the significance of this day for an Instagram friend. It made me happy for her, and wistful too, because I have such a longing to be feel connected with traditions, with rituals, and ceremony, and celebrations. Happy Lunar New Year, by the way! Happy Birthday, Karen! Happy Birthday, tomorrow, Aunt Liz! Does anyone else feel a little melancholy, a little bittersweet, emotional? I think if I were to Mother myself, I would be sending me to bed for an early nap, then schedule a nature walk for later in the day.

BirdHouse Notes: It's Groundhog Day Eve! For the record, I am still grappling with the "indisputable" fact of Christmas being over, yet somehow it's the first of February. The consensus seems to be that we should make pancakes tomorrow. Lots of them. What we would really love is to have a pancake dinner, and invite everyone over. I suppose we could have varieties of toppings, like all kinds of chopped fruits, nuts, and different syrups. If it can't happen, just as I imagine, this year, then count on us... in the near future we will have a Groundhog Pancake Festival, and everyone will be welcome! February 1, 2022

Bird House Notes:Happy GroundHog Day! I bought an electric griddle, especially for the occasion. It was the vision of hosting a pancake party that sold me on the idea. In fact, when we do have that event, and can invite positively everyone, I might need a second griddle. As for today's celebration, I think it's going to be a mini feast of roast chicken, stuffing, butternut squash, salad, green beans, and cranberry sauce. And something outdoors... like planting more flowers, and maybe we can have a supper outdoors, with a campfire burning. I would love to share this day, if only virtually, with friends. Lately, we have seen a steady succession of sad, and difficult events, and it compels me to gather, to hold hands, and hold fast to hope, to love and kindness. Wherever you are, if you can, do something gentle and uplifting, hold fast to some kindness, for yourself, for those around you. I am thinking of you. February 2, 2022