Scones, one of the best quick breads

I love scones, because they are basically a biscuit that you can fill with any amount of fun things – sweet or savory!

The last few times I made scones I tried all different kinds of combinations:

Cheddar and Cashew

Sunflower Seed, Dried Cherry, Mexican Chocolate

Flax Seed, Pecan, Dried Cranberry

 

This is my simple scones recipe:

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I often write recipes to myself as just a list of ingredients (ask any one of my former employees and they will surely roll their eyes about it), so it’s not surprising that there are no directions. In baking, I like to make sure I have measurements for the ingredients, as I am not a good enough baker (yet) to guess on the amounts of leaveners, etc. The technique on scones is a basic biscuit technique – simply: mix dry ingredients, cut in butter, add liquid and other flavorings/additions (like nuts, berries, or cheese).

A few words of wisdom from my years of baking at work and at home:

*Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are no more than one year old. Everything in your kitchen runs out of life eventually (even dried beans can become inedibly dry after a few years) and these items are not an exception. If you are in doubt, just get new ones – it’s not that much of an investment to ensure successful baking.

*Use unsalted butter. Always. Salt is a preservative, meaning salted butter is more likely to be a lot older. Plus you want to be able to control the salt content in your cooking.

*Don’t get overwrought about “room temperature butter,” just let it sit out for like 10 minutes – that’s it. It just has to be slightly pliable.

*Don’t overwork your dough – unless you are making bread or pasta, you don’t need to knead a dough. Stir it until it is wet and everything seems evenly distributed.

*Last, but certainly not least, don’t get stressed out. Food is like a reflection of your mood, if you are stressed about making something it will most likely turn out tough/undercooked/wrong because you nervously stir it/open the oven too much/skip a step. Relax, enjoy the feel/smell/taste of it all.

 

Simple Scones

makes 12 small scones

 

3 c flour

1/3 c sugar

2.5 tsp baking powder

.5 tsp baking soda

3/4 c butter, room temp

1 c buttermilk, milk, cream, or yogurt

 

1. Preheat oven to 400degrees.

2. Mix dry ingredients in bowl, add butter pieces. Cut butter with a pastry cutter or using hands until you get a gravely texture.

3. Add liquid and any other flavorings (nuts, dried fruit, cheese, etc) and stir until combined.

4. Separate dough into thirds, and turn each third on a floured surface until a cohesive ball – form into a 4″ puck and chill for about 30 minutes.

5. Remove from refrigerator and cut into fourths. Bake on a baking sheet for 15-25 minutes, until slightly browned.

note: You can keep the puck in the freezer for up to three months. Just pull it out and let it thaw on the counter for an hour or two, cut into fourths and bake as usual.

 

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Dry Ingredients

 

Cold Butter

Cold Butter

 

Room Temp Butter

Room Temp Butter

 

Add Butter to Dry Ingredients

Add Butter to Dry Ingredients

 

Cutting Butter By Hand - squeeze butter between thumb and forefinger and drop back into the flour mixture. Repeat.

Cutting Butter By Hand – squeeze butter between thumb and forefinger and drop back into the flour mixture. Repeat.

 

Halfway Through the Cutting Process - the butter is still big and looks flakey

Halfway Through the Cutting Process – the butter is still big and looks flakey

 

Done Cutting the Butter - the mixture resembles small gravel

Done Cutting the Butter – the mixture resembles small gravel

 

Add Liquid Ingredients

Add Liquid Ingredients

 

Four Inch Puck - chill before cutting

Four Inch Puck – chill before cutting

 

Cut in Fours and Put Into the Oven

Cut in Fours and Put Into the Oven

 

Golden Brown Scones

Golden Brown Scones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Good Housekeeping

I took this tattered cookbook from my mom’s house years ago, and somehow figured she wouldn’t notice. The ignorance of youth.

Well, she told me not that long ago that she knew I took it and (like only a mother would) said she is glad I have it. So, thanks mom. I love this book, it is basic and easy and it has had years of use at my mother’s hand. I remember her pulling it out whenever she couldn’t remember exact measurements for her favorite recipes. It gives me a warm sense of home.

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On a recent cold Sunday morning (ok, more like afternoon) I decided to make French Toast. I actually went through about five old cookbooks until I found a recipe for it. Didn’t seem to be a popular dish until the sixties, though it does appear in really old publications (like the White House Cookbook, 1894, asĀ “American Toast: To one egg thoroughly beaten, put one cup of sweet milk and a little salt. Slice light bread and dip in mixture, allowing each slice to absorb some of the milk; then brown on a hot buttered griddle or thick bottomed frying pan; spread with butter and serve hot.” An interesting and savory version from over 100 years ago.)

The recipe given in the Good Housekeeping Cookbook, 1964 was pretty simple, I suppose for me too simple. So I took the base recipe:

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and added some things, so it looked like this:

FRENCH TOAST

(makes 4 – 6 servings)

4 eggs

1/2 t salt

2 T brown sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup yogurt (vanilla or plain)

6-12 slices of any kind of bread

oil, butter, or fat for browning

1. Break up eggs with a whisk, then whisk in salt, sugar, milk, and yogurt until well mixed.

2. Dunk bread in egg mixture. Let them soak for a few minutes if they are thick.

3. In a skillet or on a griddle, melt butter or fat on medium heat. Add in as many pieces of toast to fit in pan. Brown both sides and keep warm in oven as you brown the other pieces.

4. Serve warm with cinnamon sugar, honey, maple syrup, jam, or any such sweet thing.

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Eggs.

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Whisk.

Add Salt, Sugar, Milk, and Yogurt.

Add Salt, Sugar, Milk, and Yogurt.

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Let it soak up all the goodness.

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And soak.

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I love a cast iron pan. I use have oil half butter, which keeps the butter from burning.

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Brown. And don’t overcrowd the pan.

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Another flip.

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Brown the other side.

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Serve.

Try this for a perfectly subtly-sweet hearty breakfast, I suggest serving it with any form of pork (or if you are disinclined to eat meat, try some other such salty goodness to pair with this sweetness like: homemade eggplant sausage, soy-free vegan bacon, or just delicious hash browns).

Old Cookbooks.

Oh, do I have a lot. Old cookbooks, that is. Before my recent move across the country – it was nearing the 700 mark. I know, it’s an illness.

I had the arduous task of whittling down my collection and then leaving it in storage for about a year. It has made me that much more appreciative of the weird stuff I have. These throngs of cookbooks usually serve as a inspiration, lots of flipping pages randomly.

I decided to finally start using the cookbooks as what they meant to be used, by cooking the recipes.

The first book I wanted to feature is appropriately the first Americans cookbook, called The Art of American Indian Cooking.

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Published in 1965, this book opens to a map entitled Early Explorers’ Dates and Contacts with American Indians – and sets the tone for the direction the book takes. This book divides the country in five parts (NW, SW, Plains, East, and West), details the native plants and cooking techniques, and (the part I find most interesting) goes over how the blending of Native and European cultures happen through food. The authors put the emphasis on how so many foods that are native to the Americas have changed the cuisines of so many cultures around the world.

I learned that the mash up of Spanish livestock and Native American open pit cooking techniques was the advent of BarBeQue; that the corn, potatoes, and tomatoes of the Western Hemisphere has changed the world in ways we could not quantify; and that the Native populations were generally extremely helpful and important players in the new settlers putting roots down in the New World.

There are about 3o recipes of interest that I marked, including Trout Consomme, Sunflower Seed Cakes, Adobe Bread, and Fried Cucumbers. But you have to start somewhere.

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I chose Green Pepper and Pink Bean CasseroleĀ from the Gardeners and Gatherers of the Southwest chapter. Mostly because beans and peppers were things I already had, but also becuase it is freezing in our log cabin and I will take any reason to turn on the oven. I made a few slight adjustments to the recipe: I added more ham, I used nutmeg instead of mace, I used a poblano pepper (assuming they meant a green bell pepper), I used pinto beans and a few chickpeas instead of the allusive “pink bean,” and I used canned tomato sauce (just tomatoes, no flavoring). Here is the recipe in a legible manner.

GREEN PEPPER AND PINK BEAN CASSEROLE

(makes 4-6 servings)

3 strips bacon, cut into julienne strips

1 green pepper, washed, cored and coarsely chopped

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

1 tablespoon minced, cooked ham (optional)

1 cup canned tomatoes

1 teaspoon brown sugar

pinch mace

salt and coarsely ground pepper to season

2 (1 lb) cans pink beans, drained

1. Brown the bacon slowly, add green pepper and onion, and saute gently until tender.

2. Stir in garlic, minced ham (optional), tomatoes, brown sugar, mace, salt, and black pepper, and simmer, stirring, for about 10 minutes.

3. Mix tomato sauce with pink beans and transfer mixture to a 2-quart baking dish.

4. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes in a moderate oven, 350 degrees.

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This recipe was super easy. Plain and simple. I, obviously, started and finished the recipe in the same pan – making it even easier. And turned out really deliciously. Real smokey, salty and sweet, not too tomatoey. I had to fight the urge to cover or stir the casserole, for the fear it would get to dry on top. It did not get too dry, it was pretty much a perfect texture.

So, for a easy delicious nutritious warm winter meal (or side dish) this comes highly recommended.