renewed obsession with scone mix! {love}

5in this blog i have often extolled the greatness of fisher’s scone mix. i love this stuff! since my last scone mix adventure (rhubarb bake), i’ve been experimenting with other applications and have somewhat perfected the use of scone mix as a topping for a quickie cobbler. this summer i’ve made a number of berry/fruit concoctions. my favorite has been a peach berry.

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everyone, it seems, was obsessed with peaches this summer (the en vouge fruit, i suppose) and so it was very on trend to start with a giant delicious peach from over the mountains, then add whatever berries you’ve got (i tried raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, mixes of berries, strawberries…). dust each layer of fruit with a bit of sugar.

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then i drop the scone mix on (for a 9 inch pie pan, i use half a box of mix). a thinner layer seems to work out better. then brush with an egg wash and sprinkle some chunkier sugar on top (i used raw sugar).4

bake, serve and consume. making these are so easy and they look so pretty! in my child-induced exhaustion, i feel great about baking these and taking them to parties. 1

i also tried a savory version with a chicken pie filling…delicious! i did the egg wash and sprinkled chunky salt and rosemary instead of sugar. the scone mix is versatile and it was as perfect with savory as it was with sweet! and so fast, and it looks so pretty! i tried rectangular bakers, but the round ones just make it work. and so much faster/easier than a real pie, and totally doable with even a tiny kid pulling on your legs all day.

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love in the city

I think a lot, anymore, about what makes a place with living in, what makes a place home. not a particular domicile, but a space or community.

is it the walkable cafe? proximity to work? friendly neighbors, local park, community programs? the presence of friends and family I’m the community?

for me there is a very specific, but a bit unnameable quality that makes a place feel worth calling home. and I can show you:

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I pass this flower stand every Saturday on my way to a class. I love the wonderful people ergo came up with the idea of sharing the beauty of their garden abd asking that each person decide the value. as someone currently without the space to grow my own daliahs, I appreciate this service. as do many others as I often notice the depleted supply pin my way home.

additionally:

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with these lovely libraries popping up everywhere, I was so excited to see one close to home. I live the idea of combining a passion for the written word, to preserving books as a printed medium, to promoting community literacy.

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part of the qualities needed for a good home certainly include passion for beauty and books…seeing these so openly valued make me feel ever more cozy in my “home.”

a much needed girl’s night out! {stumbling goat greatness}

there isn’t much that helps me reconnect with my pre-mother identity better than a long, luxurious meal where I can taste my food, linger over the flavors, and even discuss the food as I taste it. thank goodness for good girlfriends and husbands who don’t take it too hard when they volunteer to parent solo on saturday night!

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for once, I didn’t worry about whether the place was baby-friendly, or too what degree curious and vocal little one would disturb out fellow diners. we even started at the bar of the stumbling goat bistro for cocktails and appetizers. we had raspberry pisco sours: pisco, raspberry shrub, lemon and organic egg white. then we moved on to the dining room and got started!

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we shared the Jámon Serrano:
Peaches, red watercress, Zamarano cheese

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and the Tails & Trotters Braised Pork Belly: Washington cherries, beluga black lentils. both were unbelievably delicious. the pork and fruit pairings were delicate and perfect, each dish was beautiful and divinely balanced.

we also shared the evening special of Neah Bay halibut with chantrelle and corn risotto…but were so into eating out that no photo was taken!

we ended on the best possible note: interesting dessert! I didn’t get a photo but my girlfriend did:

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there were many daily icecream choices, including salted caramel and other sweet confections. however, they offered us the choice of savory flavors as well and we could not resist trying the bone marrow, cognac and chantrelle icecream! though it was a tough choice since the other flavor was golden beet, blue cheese and hazelnut. for sorbets we had the choice of either red or black currant and gooseberry…though we choose red currant, I wish we could have tried them all!! the scoops were so generous that we could only handle one each.

it was one of the most rejuvenating nights I have had in a while, and the talents of the staff, chefs and ambiance at the stumbling goat are not wasted on me.

learning to love my new neighborhood

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i promised myself, when i finally made my exodus from the suburbs, that i would live an urban lifestyle for my adult life. all those times i had my angsty daydreams of walking to independent cafes in handmade local styles and drinking hot tea while reading shakespeare’s plays (or writing in my own journal), i built up an idea of a “cool” life. the style i would choose as an adult. no car. grocery shopping at the weekly farmer’s market. decorating my chic urban apartment (in my towny feeling neighborhood) with art purchased from the artist themselves at spring and summer  outdoor festivals.

oh yes. and i lived this way…for about seven years.

i even got married during this time, and pregnant to boot. i finished grad school and started two new jobs. and i moved twice. i’m still in the same zip code, but that last move took me into an entirely different lifestyle. it’s amazing how a little change…a few miles north, can change many things. and how i never missed those things until they were gone. all of the sudden i:

  • did not live in walking distance of a public library (i can drive to five in 5-10 mins, but i can’t walk to one. what am i supposed to do when it snows?)
  • did not have a cafe (or three or five) across the street from my apartment. there is one in 10 mins walking distance (sketchtacular), and two a 15-20 min walk down to the lake. i do not count the starbucks 15 mins away.
  • did not have a local-organic-boutique grocery store within a 5 min walk. instead, i can walk to a local-organic-boutique grocery store in 20 mins. and the asian super store market is about 15 mins away by foot.
  • did not live near a major bus hub. ok, i still do. but that major bus hub is still a 20-30 min walk.
  • had two cars for my household. ugh.
  • did not live in a secure building on at least the second floor. i had no idea that the amount of bugs and dirt tracked into the house would go up so exponentially.
  • did not have at least one summer festival happening OUTSIDE MY HOUSE. at one point it was so commonplace, that i would actually leave the neighborhood during these weekends. ah, what a fool i was.
  • did not have my choice of bars, cafes, wine bars, clothing boutiques, chocolate shops, restaurants–all within a five min walk.

boohoo, i tell myself. it’s amazing the things i feel like i have to have to be living the life i promised myself i would.

i spent most of the first year in our new place–a brick row house next to a school with a giant soccer field–in a sleep-deprived dream state with a little infant sleeping on my lap, hating this apartment, and everything about it. the kitchen is tiny, and is actually a kitchen/laundry. i felt like i was living in the urban suburbs…no art. no urban culture. no festivals. no weekly outdoor movies, no live music audible from my bedroom window. we live next to a community college and i often feel like i am living in the university district–lite. lots of students.  and the apartment itself–despite having access to outdoor space there was no place for a garden. not even a place for my patio set and umbrella. the fireplace is unusable. the downstairs bathroom still feels creepy to me. it’s the middle unit so i don’t get multi-directional light anymore. where are my vintage wood floors and floor to ceiling windows? where are my counters in the kitchen? where would i roll out (hahaha) pie crust? (i guess at the time i thought i’d be making a lot of pies.)

it’s been a year this month. and i have to say, i have grown to first tolerate, and now have real affection for our neighborhood. here’s why:

  • there’s a park with a playground a few moments away from my apartment. while this isn’t the first time i’ve lived near a playground, it is the first time in quite a while i’ve had any reason to frequent one. my husband and i take our 10 month old son to the park in the evenings. we though the park would be barren after 5 pm (like they were in the suburbs we both grew up in since one parent was usually at home to take kids to the park during the day). but the park is vibrant after six with whole families playing together. many know each other and meet up nightly after everyone is home from work. they speak all different languages. i walked by the other night to hear very little and very large voices coming out of the top of one of the pine trees. in Russian. i loved it.
  • speaking of languages, my new neighborhood is richly diverse. i am not the only non-white person in a multi-block radius. many of our neighbors are new to the united states and bring their wonderful music, smells of delicious foods cooking, and fashion sense to the community. since they aren’t ‘native’ to the culture of the city, they are friendly and sit out on their porches at night.
  • so we actually have met many of our neighbors.
  • we have a lot of neighbors who walk by our place pushing strollers, walking dogs (or both), or simply running, or out for a stroll with a latte. i’m not unused to people being around all day, having spent near a decade in popular neighborhoods, but i am unused to the idea of people gathering without the necessity of spending money. they aren’t “meeting up for a coffee” or going out for a drink, or shopping the cute boutique. they’re walking, and the focus is on the human interaction. i love that more than i thought i would.
  • the soccer field is always busy with organized sports.
  • ok–i can still walk to a grocery store. not my favorite one, but one with a large imported foods section and decent produce…and delicious bubble tea. i can’t walk to a farmers market, but who wants to drag all those apples back home anyway? i can walk to the lake, and around the lake, and yes, there are a couple cafes down there. though i can’t stay there long since me and the kid have to be always on the move.
  • i love having a back door. i open the front and back doors, both equipped with screens, and sit in the fresh breeze.
  • i can hang flower boxes since i’m on the ground level. i love my flower boxes.
  • my apartment came with several large, luscious rose bushes all around. amazing roses i could never grow myself somehow seem to thrive right on this spot. i don’t know if i am supposed to, but i pick them.
  • we can walk to one Salvadorian restaurant, which is always full of babies, so no one minds when mine screams. also, the food is amazing.
  • our neighborhood isn’t “cool,” but neither are we…anymore. my husband and i lament, from time to time, our youthful lifestyle of being in the know about which restaurants were opening, what was at the art gallery, and wearing the works of boutique artisans. we also cooked complex and delicious meals. now we try to figure out what kinds of food we can have delivered because we’re starving but neither of us are awake enough to drive, and trying to eat at a restaurant sounds like a torturous misadventure.
  • there is a p-patch going in up the hill.
  • from time to time there is a guy selling strawberries on the corner of my street. i love these.
  • we leave our neighborhood. for years, people came to us. we lived in cool places with walk-able attractions. we always meant to go to another neighborhood…but we were too lazy. now, we’ve got to get in the car anyway, so we might as well go somewhere interesting.
  • there are actually some art installations around…ar123739980038132

i’m not thrilled about living near a mall, driving all the time, and i really just can’t let it go that i can’t walk to a decent cafe in less than 5. but i’m getting there. i love walking to the park with my son, and pushing him on the swings. i like making tea in the kitchen when the back door is open. i enjoy knowing my neighbors on a first name basis.

am i ready to make a break for the true suburbs? no. never. for now. but i feel like learning to love my new neighborhood is part of learning to love my new life. and i miss things from my previous years, but i wouldn’t, couldn’t, trade those things for what i have now.

rhubarb season!

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the end result: scone-topped strawberry-rhubarb bake

every season brings delights, doubtless. in the fall i love making big dinners with starchy side dishes, baking cookies in the winter, and grilling in the summer. but i look forward to rhubarb every spring.

maybe because it’s so pretty. or looks like ruby celery. or because it’s delicious. or different. or that it seems uniquely american. whatever the reason is, i love working with it.

a major limiting factor to my experimentation these days is my little son. at nine months old he is into everything, and grabs faster than i can intercept! even with him in a sling, baking is a tough. he is curious about everything, and obsessed with food (like my husband and i)!

the little one is into everything!

the little one is into everything!

but, not wanting to be cheated out of rhubarb season, i tried to come up with something easier than a pie, and fast. so, i processed the rhubarb (i love to put it in a bright green bowl):

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and cooked it with:

.25 cup water | 3 tablespoons all purpose flour | .75 cup sugar

once it had reduced some, i added 2 lbs of strawberries and cooked it together:

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then i baked at 375 degrees until the rhubarb was bubbly and the scones were golden!

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okay, not the most elegant, not the most beautiful: but rustic, quick, easy and delicious. not overly sweet and suitable for breakfast (not just dessert!).

and my rhubarb mission: successfully completed!

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