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Sara...

  • ...is a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life.

November 2011

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    sara at saraarts dot com

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Comments

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TheAmpuT

Okay. Not to commandeer your blog, but I have a story.

Did you know that while I was in culinary school LEARNING TO BE A CHEF, that I was dating a British guy?? And that I would make him scones FROM A BOX, then hide the box, and...yes...put ingredients and whatnot on the counter to make it look like I made them??? LOLOLOL He would swoon over them, and me, and how much I reminded they reminded him of his childhood. (gawd, I can practically hear him calling me "dahling")

Sara

Oh, commandeer away. That's hysterical.

Scones are really basic, as you know, just the most simple of soda-bread type things. For those who don't know, there's no reason a good mix can't be quite successful; as with any prepackaged and processed food, just watch for an overabundance of sodium and for the odd unidentifiable ingredient, for excess sugars, and for trans fats and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats.

My mother used to make scones with Bisquick. I thought they were quite repulsive. I thought anything that used Bisquick was quite repulsive, actually. At the time of this writing, the ingredients of Bisquick are not available online at the Betty Crocker website, but General Mills, the parent company, swears the formula has changed since I last tasted it -- which would be about 1973. Blech. I can only hope it's changed for the better.

Bipolarlawyercook

I am totally a labeling rageaholic. I hate that stuff. I'm the annoying lady reading the ingredient list in the middle of the aisle, while you're trying to get around me and Get.Done.And.Get.Out.

Sara

I am right there with you, sister. But look, you slip one time -- ONE TIME -- and look what happens!

They made blackcurrants fattening! They did! In a single serving (¼ C) of these, there are 110 calories, 10 of which are from fat. Supposedly there are six ¼ C servings in this tiny little package, but honestly, if I were snacking on them, I would eat the whole package without even thinking about it. And if I hadn't read the label, I'd have felt perfectly fine doing it. It's fruit! What can it hurt?

They have the balls to call them "dried," but I call them candied. Of course they taste good! Candy tastes good! But fruit sold as dried fruit, and not as sweetened dried fruit, should not have added sugar -- or palm kernel oil! -- in it.

IMO.

Good thing I was just making scones.

alphabitch

It was scones. That comment I made somewhere about getting up really early and having to make huge quantities of a baked thing? I think it was scones. I also, at this particular restaurant, had to make muffins, but they were easier, and reliably good - the recipe was the same every time. The scones were a pain in my ass, partly because of the enormous quantity, which had to be divided into several different kinds of scones, two of which changed every day. It's much easier and more pleasant to make smaller quanitites of scones. My favorite kind of scones are fairly sweet, with lemon zest and candied ginger.

Later in the morning -- and less frequently -- we sometimes made the lemon shortbread crusts for the lemon-basil tarts on the dessert menu. Or these fabulous lemon-orange pound cakes, which we would later fry up in clarified butter and serve with a dollop of moscarpone and some kind of exotic citrusy brandied fruit syrup. And fruit.

My favorite part of that job, though? The first thing I did, after riding my bike over there in the dark, was turn on all eight front burners and put peppers on to roast -- habaneros and jalapenos on a little screen, and a few anchos or whatever else the daily special needed, and then huge red bell peppers -- turning and watching the skins char, whilst also chopping like 2 or 3 entire heads of garlic and an an enormous pile of whatever fresh herbs we would need. And then roasting big baking sheets full of red grapes and chopped red onions. And then putting the peppers in big metal bowls and letting them steam for a while; then scraping the charred skin off and chopping them up.

Mmmm. Maybe I'll cook something today.

Glad there's a new Mr. Coffee in the house. I actually had instant coffee this morning, even though I have coffee beans. I actually like the kind of instant I get at the mexican grocery down the hill from my house, and I only wanted one cup.

Bisquick has in fact changed quite a few times over the years; it is actually worse, and not better. And the lowfat kind is especially hideous.

Sara

Oh, good grief, I am so hungry now! I really crave chiles rellenos, since you mentioned the roasting peppers -- aaaaah -- but I don't have time to make them today, plus I don't have any poblanos. When I buy my organic produce on Tuesday, you know what I'll be looking for.

I cannot imagine making hundreds of scones at a time. Two dozen is the most I've ever made. The issue I come up against is always over-handling the soda in the baking powder, which is why I no longer roll or pat out and cut the dough. I'm sure professionals have techniques I know nothing about, but in my experience, the more you handle this dough, and the more you wait, the more rising you lose.

The coffee we drink is the best coffee I've ever had, Dean's Beans, roasted right here in Eastern Massachusetts. It's organically grown, better than fair trade, and beautifully, beautifully roasted, never burnt or bland. Our favorite right now is the Berkeley Shark Bite. Highly recommended, no matter how good that instant tastes! ;)

elizabeth

Hmmmm, not much of a scone maker or baker but I will say: butter is BETTER with just about anything. And I MISS trader Joe's - ahhh the good times I had wandering up and down those aisles. I so miss trader joes - I am glad that with coffee and scones your comfort is satiated.

Sara

Elizabeth, thank you. The thing is, I like scones (though I prefer them with masses of clotted cream and raspberry jam and/or lemon curd), but I do not love them. My true love loves them, and when I make them, he feels loved. When he feels loved, I feel happy. So yes, I am more comfortable having both scones and coffee on hand, but while the coffee is a direct chemical dependency kind of thing, the scones make me happy via a slightly different route. :)

Mike Daems

I agree with your thoughts on the labeling for the dried black currants, they should read Sweetened Dried Black Currants. It's almost impossible to have a dried fruit without a sweetner involved, unless you want to use Freeze Dried which is typically 10x the cost of infused dried fruit. That's the difference, we aren't talking about a sun dried product either, you are talking about a dried fruit that goes thru an oven, you need a syup/sweetner to add weight to the product, so it can retain is structure and taste. If it didn't it would come out like cardboard. The glucose-fructose syrup is actually a healthier sugar/sweetner than what is in most dried fruits in the USA. High fructose corn syrup and sucrose are in most of your dried fruits. It's much better for you then High Fructose Corn Syrup. The lemon juice is in there to preserve the product, Palm Kernal Oil is the european version of sunflower oil. There is less than 1% of oil on the product and that's there to keep it free flowing.

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