Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Snow? In February?

They predicted possible snow for us today. That's always a crap shoot, because due to the mountains, lakes, etc. in our part of the country, weather forcasting is difficult. However, this morning the rain turned to ice pellets, then to snow, then to snowflakes over an inch in diameter! As we like to say here on the rare occasions that we get snow, "It's really coming down!".

Since it's cold and snowy, it's a great day to make a batch of Currant Scones. Our local paper, The Seattle Times, has a recipe that I'm going to try. Here it is:

Currant Scones
Butter or baker's parchment paper
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 TBL. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup chilled, salted butter
1/4 cup chilled shortening (they are using the new Crisco with 0 trans fats)
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup whipping cream or half-and-half
3 eggs, divided
1 TBL. water
2 TBL. coarse sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter baking sheet or line with parchement paper. In a large bowl mix together 2 cups flour with sugar, baking powder and salt.

2. Cut butter into cubes; add butter and small pieces of shrtening to flour mixture and cut in with a pastry cutter until the mixture forms pieces that are about the size of peas. Mix in currants. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Add cream and 2 of the eggs. Do not over mix. Dough will be soft.

3. Turn out onto a floured surface. Knead in remaining 1/2 cup flour as needed until dough stiffens enough to be rolled out.

4. Roll dough on a floured surface to 1-inch thickness. Cut scones witha 2-inch biscuit or round cookie cutter. Place on prepared baking sheet. Mix remaining egg with water. Brush over scones and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 12 to 16 scones.

Here's how they turned out. Let me just say, "Yum!"

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Common Life of Ordinary Qualities.

"The greatest results in life are usually attained by simple means, and the exercise of ordinary qualities. The common life of every day, with its cares, necessities and duties, affords ample opportunity for acquiring experience of the best kind; and it's most beaten paths provide the true worker with abundant scope for effort and room for self-improvement. The road of human welfare lies along the old highway of steadfast well-doing; and they who are the most persistent, and work in the truest spirit, will usually be the most successful."
--Samuel Smiles

As evidence of my common life of ordinary qualities, it's time to start planning for the coming year's garden. Last year was a dismal failure, and thanks to Steve Solomon, I think I know why. (Mr. Solomon writes a variety of excellent books on gardening. He used to live in the Pacific NW, but now resides down under in New Zealand.) My area is prone to a build up of nasty little insects called Symphylans, that live in tunnels up to five feet below the ground. They live on the roots of vegetable plants mostly, and can't be gotten rid of unless you let the area go to grass for a year or two. Hmmm. In my small area of raised beds that can be a problem. Therefore, I'll need to out think the little monsters.
In the meantime, I will concentrate on growing the crops that they dislike.

So, I'm sitting here with a copy of Steve's book, "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades" along with Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew, and the Territorial Seed Company catalog (origianlly started by Steve Solomon--what a small world) and plotting out our seed buy. It's a great way to spend a cold and cloudy day.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Simple Things

Today, in honor of some recent good news, I am focusing on being grateful for the ordinariness of daily life. My yogurt is brewing, a trip to the market for fresh fruit to tide us over until our next CSA delivery, a cup of tea and a good book, and then a long walk with the dog will be my day. Then if there's time, perhaps some knitting by the fire.

Today's newspaper had an article on the importance of ritual in a person's day, particularly in the morning. I agree and find that I have my own morning ritual. I'm sure that most people do, whether they are aware of it or not. Daily routines are helpful and good. They ease life along, and give a shape to our days. Then, when they become tired and dull, we break out and take a trip, or vacation somewhere else (even if at a neighbor or relative's house) and the break in our daily routine refreshes us and makes us ready (and even look forward) to returning to our tried and true life.

Working for a Future


Friends and neighbors of ours took a big step a number of years ago and adopted a 12 year old boy from Romania. In interest of privacy, he will be anonymous, but he's a great kid full of personality. As an "ESL" or English as a second language student, school is difficult. (It's hard enough when you aren't from across the world, don't speak the language, and don't have the benefit of growing up with the culture and a family who cares for and teaches you life's lessons.)

This boy is working hard in a program that teaches kids how to work in the food service industry. They have their own restaurant where they learn to plan, budget, cook, serve, and clean up. Their meals are delicious, and inexpensive. Plus, it's fun to watch them as they try so hard to do everything just right. Here's my friend and her son on the day we went there for lunch. For $6 we got clam chowder, fish and chips and lemon pound cake with coffee or tea. It was great and my neighbor boy was excited that I can to see him. Isn't he cute in his chef's outfit? Posted by Picasa