I learned to cook because of my Mother.
|Oven Fresh Raspberry Buttermilk Scones|
and Betty Crocker.
The first cookbook I remember using was the red, hardcover Betty Crocker cookbook that hung out on the shelf in our kitchen. Betty Crocker was the staple cookbook in the homes of most of the people I knew growing up, and a frequent reference point for me.
When I was in fourth grade, my Mom was substitute teaching and working on her Master's degree in Library Science. I was beginning to experiment in the kitchen. First, it was basic things like spaghetti - where boiling water for the noodles was simple, and where the basis of the sauce was a 3 or 5 pound roll of ground beef added to sautéed onions in a huge cast-iron frying pan. Once the ground beef was nicely browned, a big can of tomato sauce and another big can of crushed tomatoes were poured over, followed by a bag or two of Lawry's spaghetti sauce mix purchased at Top Foods. When dinner was ready, the sauce was mixed the noodles in a huge pot and placed in the center of the table. A tall green can of Kraft's dried parmesan cheese was placed next to it, and a plate piled high with Melissa's homemade bread. The whole family gathered around and plates and pots were quickly emptied.
A family can't live on spaghetti alone, and a pre-teen girl gets bored doing the same thing over and over, so the recipe experiments began. "Check Betty Crocker and make a list of the ingredients you need," my Mom would say. So I would pore over the pages of Betty Crocker. Roast beef with roasted potatoes. Pork chops with mashed potatoes and Applesauce made in the fall by my Mom & sisters from the apples growing in our yard - canned and used all year. It was always applesauce with pork chops! I still love that combination. After my parent's trip to Corpus Christi in Texas, my dad raved about the chili there, so I consulted Betty Crocker about how to make my own, made a list of ingredients, and Mom did the grocery shopping. I am not sure it was anything like Texan chili, but we ate it down with Betty's cornbread recipe and repeated the experiment many times thereafter.
When I wanted to make French Bread on my own, Betty Crocker couldn't deliver, so Mom pulled an old Fleischmann's yeast paperback cookbook out of the back of the cupboard and pointed me there. Thus began my first bread-making experience, with tips from Mom on how to get the temperature right so the yeast would work properly and the bread would rise.
As I became more comfortable in the kitchen, I tried to fancy things up - a teenage whim to make dinner look like the pictures: on request Mom picked up a couple of whole, fresh pineapples (a very cool thing in the late 1980's) and I carved out the middle to make a bowl into which I piled the fruit salad.
|Pastry blender - a favorite tool|
My Mom cooked too, of course, and my favorite thing (still) that she produced were Barbecue Ribs. I don't know the process exactly - I'll need to get that recipe to share with you here. Somehow I seem to remember that the ribs were boiled before baking. The sauce cooked up beforehand and included tomato sauce and ketchup and brown sugar and spices, and was then poured over the ribs which were cooked for hours to the point where the meat literally fell off the bone into the delectable sauce to be eagerly consumed by whomever was around the table. They are still one of the things I look forward to most when I visit the US now.
Holidays were a cooking fest - and the recipes I use today are heavily influenced by our family potluck Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner with cousins. Mashed potatoes and corn along with roast turkey and stuffing were staples; baked sweet potatoes or yams and cranberry sauce were welcome side dishes, and every year, the jar of green olives stuffed with red pimento appeared on the table...I am still not sure who ever ate them, though my sister Julia tried one each year with a slight grimace until one year she discovered she actually did like the taste!
These days my Mom loves when we cook for her. She fully enjoys our experimentations with the culinary arts, both complicated and simple, but one item which inevitably seems to make her smile is also one of the simplest. My dear Mother loves scones.
|Easy clean up.|
When I was studying in England, my Mom, sister and friend came to visit. We rented a car and drove north and south, east and west. One of my favorite stops (and theirs, I would guess!) was to Cornwall, and more specifically, St. Ives. A small village that curls along the rocky cliffs leading down to the sea, St. Ives charmed us with its quaint houses, vibrant sunsets, pink wild flowers pushing earnestly up between the rocks, fresh Cornish pasties, and sweet little cafes tucked into the corners of the streets on every turn. My mother's face brightened when she saw the sign for saffron current rolls in one of the corner shop - she grew up in a little mining town in Northern Michigan, where Cornish and Finnish miners worked side-by-side in the Copper mines - and apparently these rolls were familiar, as were the Cornish pasties which made a common appearance on the dinner table when I was a kid.
But another English tradition really made her smile. Afternoon Tea is a normal part of traditional English life. Perhaps the English don't adhere to this tradition so much anymore (can one of my English friends weigh in here?), but High Noon Tea is something every tourist to England should experience, with it's formality, it's tiered trays piled high with finger sandwiches as well as small sweet delicacies accompanied, of course, with a pot of tea. You feel like you could be dining with the Queen. In St. Ives, though, we kept things simple: A pot of tea, fresh Cream Scones, strawberry jam, and a pot of clotted cream in a tiny cafe just big enough for us to fit and sunlight pouring in the windows.
Since then, we've made scones. And I have a hard time remembering a Mother's Day breakfast or brunch after that where scones of some iteration or the other haven't made an appearance - Apricot White Chocolate Scones made by Colleen are a particular favorite.
If I were helping to prepare brunch for my Mother today, I would make her scones. Since she and I are an ocean apart right now, I'll share the scone recipe with you - for you and your Mothers to enjoy.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom! With love.
Raspberry Lemon Scones
Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together:
2 1/2 cups or 360g flour
1/4 c or 60 g sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons or 200g cold butter, cut into pieces
Using a pastry blender or a fork, blend in until the mixture forms coarse crumbs:
In a small bowl combine:
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons or 90g buttermilk
1/4 cup lemon juice or 52 g
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add:
1 cup or 2 dl frozen raspberries (fresh raspberries will smash and make a mess, so use frozen), 110g
Using your hands, divide the dough into two parts and knead each ball lightly so it come together and forms a ball. Be careful not to over mix - the less you handle the dough, the better the texture of the scones. Place each dough half onto the pan and flatten it into a disk about 1 inch/2.5 cm thick. Cut each disk in half and then in half again to form four triangles. Separate the scone triangles so they are not touching and they have space to grow in the oven.
Bake the scones for 15-17 minutes until the are golden brown and fragrant. Serve with your choice of coffee or tea.
Makes 8 scones.
Labels: baked goods, Breakfast, raspberry scones, scone, scones