cinnamon, orange + cranberry scones

truck

Not a week goes by that I don’t take a picture of my truck, or the lake outside my office. I hope to one day put this pastiche of seasons together, to observe the changes that occur so quickly around me that it’s almost as if the present is already the past, and the past never was. Like some advertisement for blasé home furnishings or sneakers redressed in space-age textiles, the future is now.

Time slips past at an alarming rate, and yet I wonder why it should still alarm me, given that it is consistently – like clockwork (ahem) – fleeting. How can I slow down? How can I make the remaining weeks of my 26th year matter? Where can I find importance before I turn 30, 40, 60? How do I return to that bored-yet-enchanted feeling I found myself suffering from every summer while on break from school? Is it enough to find small things to appreciate during the day, such as an uncommon plant I am smitten with, or a particularly lovely sunset, or my cat’s needy meow as she rubs against my leg and then flops over onto her side? Nothing ever feels like enough, because time keeps flowing on, and I just want to be able to slow down and savor it.

How many before me have written these same words, and lamented these same regrets. I wonder if they have found a way to trick their minds out of worrying about worthless drivel. Perhaps they have taken a page from my favorite must-watch teen drama The Vampire Diaries and have simply turned off their humanity switch, thus cheating themselves of a life worth living.

This impetuous preamble is actually one way I’m trying to deal with time’s steady malicious pulse. Given my tendency towards wordiness, I’ve decided I would like to commit myself to writing on occasion. Writing while facing a screen works, but it seems a bit removed. Writing with a pen makes me feel anxious, given that I am left-handed and cannot go a single line without smudging my words or inking my palm. But recently, I found myself a typewriter that (once fixed) will become my go-to writing device. It was ensconced in a halo of spiderwebs, keeping the company of two other typewriters and several broken light bulbs, in the attic of my work office. When the humble typewriter was replaced, I can only assume the then-foresters must have reasoned that an apocalyptic day would surely come, at which point they could pull their dusty machines out of storage, and proclaim “A-ha! Didn’t I tell you those newfangled computer thingys were just a fad!?” They would have loved that.

Unfortunately for them, there has been no such apocalypse. And unfortunately for me, I slid down most of the attic steps avec typewriter, nearly causing apocalyptic pain in my spine as it crashed against each step. The universe really wanted to keep those typewriters in the attic, “just in case.”

typewriter

When I’m feeling introspective, chances are I’m also looking to surround myself with comforting things, such as my darling cat, the awesome pair of corduroy Silvers that I picked up at Marden’s yesterday for 9.99(!!!), or familiar recipes that always set me right.

I also tend to leaf through my piles of possessions.

It’s difficult to walk the fine line between needless hoarding and self-preservation, wouldn’t you agree? It’s my Mum’s and Dad’s birthdays this week, and I’m feeling extra sentimental. I’ll see them soon, but wish I could be there in person this week to wish them well.

cardsdad

My dad looks super sassy in this picture, and I love it. Bonus: cat fur photo backdrop.

This is one of those familiar recipes that I tend towards when looking for comfort food, and it’s actually one of the only things I’ve crafted since my days as a supposedly precocious, yet food-loathing child. I suppose that means I’ve been baking variations of this recipe for at least 15 years. I’ve just been working really hard to perfect it for you guys.

Not.

There are several schools of thought when it comes to scones, but this is how I like mine: moist, full of flavor, and nearly poofy. I don’t much care for dense, dry scones, so if that is what you’re looking to make, you’d do best with another recipe. Sorries.

scones

Cinnamon, Orange + Cranberry Scones

{Recipe adapted from some 90s kids cookbook put out by the American Heart Association}
Makes 8

++Ingredients:++

1 3/4 c flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
3 pinches allspice
Heaping 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c (1/2 stick) of butter
Zest of 1 orange or tangerine, plus 2 tsp juice
1/2 c buttermilk (or 1/2 c milk + 1 tsp vinegar)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 c. dried cranberries, soaked 10 minutes in hot water, then drained
2 tbsp flour, for dusting
2 tsp sugar

++Directions:++

Heat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt. In a saucepan, melt butter, and add in orange or tangerine zest and juice. Add butter mixture, as well as buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and cranberries, to flour mixture. Mix until combined. With well-floured hands, gather dough and knead into a rounded shape on a baking stone or sheet pan covered with parchment paper. Re-flour hands if needed. Press out dough until it is roughly 3/4″ in height, keeping the circular shape.

Run a pizza cutter across the dough to create 8 scone triangles. Sprinkle 2 tsp sugar across the top of the scones. Bake at 425F for 15-18 minutes, until evenly light golden on top. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then use the pizza cutter again (or a knife) to cut the scones apart. Serve warm.

scones

olive oil + candied meyer lemon madeleines

olive oil + candied meyer lemon madeleines

Have the Meyer lemons disappeared from your local grocery store? Maybe I still have access to them because they’re considered too culinarily exotic where I live, and so no one buys them. Or maybe they’re still abundantly for sale across the country, and I just know nothing. Regardless, I’m thankful for the continued opportunity to enjoy these darling gems.

I decided to candy Meyer lemon slices, which resulted in the decadent syrup you see draped suggestively across these madeleines. The syrup – oh, how lovely it is. Sweet, tart, floral, citrus, herby; all come together under this bold orange-yellow banner of deliciousness. The chopped-up candied slices were incorporated into a basic madeleine batter, along with enough olive oil to provide a punchy kick of flavor. If a bold and flavorful dessert (or snack… or breakfast) is what you’re looking for, these are your cakelets.

mother-of-millions

Next question. Have you ever had a mother-of-millions houseplant? No? Bear with me. Yes? Party on.

In your home, has it multiplied at a phenomenal rate, to the point that you worry it might take over the room in which it lives? Has the plant’s behavior come to annoy you so much that just the mention of its name sends a shiver down your spine? Do you wish you could do more to warn others about the dangers of letting this beast into your house? If you answered yes to one or more of the above, I bet that you and my mum would get along well; you have a common enemy. Hi Mum!

I on the other hand love my weird little mother-of-millions. She’s actually at most only been an approximate mother-of-two-to-three-dozen, and I think she’s cute. I was given a little slip of this plant back in high school (where has the time gone?) maybe nine years ago, and I have nursed it along through alternating stages of growth and decay. Until two months ago, though, I had never seen it try to flower.

I read somewhere that if you let your plant flower, it may die. But I mean, is it really possible to kill this plant? My mum would shake her head and respond vehemently in the negative. I’m not sure, but I’ve been waiting patiently now for many weeks, watching the flower buds grow larger and droopier. Finally, over the weekend, I noticed that the flowers had opened. Aren’t they sweet? There’s something so impermanent and special about a houseplant flowering that I couldn’t help but memorialize it here.

candied meyer lemons

Final question. How fast can you eat these? Probably not as fast as me. Three at a time, dawg. Three at a time.

Olive Oil + Candied Meyer Lemon Madeleines {recipe by myself}

Makes 24

++Ingredients:++

1/2 c. unsalted butter + 1 tbsp for madeleine tins
3/4 c. flour + plus more for dusting tins
2 tbsp reserved candied Meyer lemon syrup, plus more for glazing
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. almonds
3/4 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 candied Meyer lemons (follow this recipe to candy your lemons – 2 Meyers to one regular lemon), chopped up into fine pieces

++Directions:++

Melt 1 tbsp of butter and brush into two regular-sized madeleine tins. Cool one minute, then sprinkle flour into each mold. Tap in each direction to evenly coat, then tap out extra. Set aside.

Melt butter in small bowl or saucepan with candied Meyer lemon syrup. Mix in sugar. Set aside, let cool.

In a food processor, grind almonds (note: I don’t blanche my almonds – I like them as is. If, however, you’d prefer blanched almonds, do that ahead of time). Add flour and baking powder, and process until mixed.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs and salt for three to five minutes until well-frothed. Whisk in half of flour mixture. Add the butter/lemon syrup mixture. Switch to a spatula, and fold in candied Meyer lemon pieces. Fold in the remaining flour.

Transfer batter into a pastry bag, making sure that the tip is large enough to allow almond chunks to pass through. Pipe batter into tins, making sure not to overfill: 2/3 to 3/4 full should be plenty. Alternatively, spoon batter into molds (my method of choice).

Chill tins in the fridge for two hours, or preferably in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake tins for 10 – 16 minutes, depending on how cold (frozen) they got. Rotate tins once. My nonstick tin takes less time to bake than my tin tin: watch your madeleines bake carefully! When the edges turn golden brown, and the center bumps appear cooked (the change is noticeable if you watch them bake), remove pan from the oven. Check to make sure they are cooked through. Quickly invert onto a cooling rack, or pry out with a spoon or knife.

Dip madeleines in reserved candied Meyer lemon syrup, and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

olive oil + candied meyer lemon madeleines

cranberry and cadbury mini egg energy bites

If you’re like me, you still have some Easter candy floating around aimlessly in your kitchen, your living room, maybe also in your pockets and in your car. This Easter candy is begging to be finished, but there is just so much of it that it is difficult to finish. Especially when there are other delicious things like Gushers getting in the way during afternoon snack time.

So last weekend, on a whim when prepping foodstuffs for an epic end-of-winter hike, I decided to turn some already delicious raw energy balls into not-raw, much deliciouser energy balls, or bites, as I’ll classily refer to them here. I make many versions of these, often with cocoa powder, often with various dried fruits, and always with a base of dates and nuts.

cranberry and cadbury mini egg energy bites

The addition of Cadbury Mini Eggs is a genius move, because it gives the energy bites a crunchy crackly texture that is terribly fun to eat – I imagine that to be the energy flowing straight into me, and down towards my legs to give them strength for the last few miles of the day.  What’s more, Cadbury recently unveiled ‘Royal Dark’ Mini Eggs, which are leaps and bounds more delicious than the original milk chocolate variety. That is what I used here, and I highly recommend it.

If you happen to have various other Easter candies looking for a home, I think many things would work well in these. Jordan almonds would work. Malted milk balls would work. Fun-sized Easter candy bars would work. Perhaps even jelly beans would work! …although that’s a bit too wacky for me.

gulf hagas

I referred to our hike as epic. It was only 9.7 miles, but the going was rrrrrrrough. First off, let me say that I don’t yet own waterproof boots. As a forester, that is probably something that I shouldn’t admit – ask me next week, and I’ll probably be able to saw “Pshaw I have waterproof boots!” and then I’ll quietly mumble something about “purchasingthemlastweekend.”

Luckily, someone had been on a good portion of the trail at some point over the winter, so the snow that is often still above-my-knees deep was reduced to the perfect depth for trodding upon. The trail we hiked was at Gulf Hagas, known as the Grand Canyon of Maine. Take that as you will – – it was definitely no Grand canyon, but it was a Lovely canyon and a Stunning canyon nonetheless. Given the canyon nature of the hike, there was a quite a bit of micro-rocky terrain, which turned out to be covered in sheer ice during our visit. It’s safe to say I did my share of slipping and sliding.

The loop hike that we did took us on a section of the Appalachian Trail as well, which we realized we hadn’t set foot on since 2011, at Grayson Highlands in Virginia. The AT hadn’t seen any footprints all winter other than moose and deer, so while being just a short section, it was sort of tiring. Remember that part about the not-waterproof boots? Remember that other part about the snow above-my-knees deep? Connect those two dots right thurr.

But jeebus, what a beautiful hike. I can’t wait for the snow to fully recede, and for weekend after weekend of glorious hiking adventures this summer. Bring it on, I say (nay, I plead)!

KI roadgulf hagasgulf hagascar camping

Perfect for bringing along on hikes, this recipe will give you a boost with healthy walnuts, hazelnuts, and dates, as well as a peppy sugar rush from the chocolate. Use up that Easter candy!

Cranberry and Cadbury Mini Egg Energy Bites

{recipe by myself – very approximate, but very adaptable}

Makes 12-15

++Ingredients:++

3 handfuls walnuts (or your nut of choice)
1 handful hazelnuts
2 handfuls dates
pinch of salt
1 handful dried cranberries
2 handfuls Cadbury Royal Dark Mini Eggs
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp maple syrup

++Directions:++

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients, and pulse until mixed. If the mixture is overly wet, add another handful of nuts. If the mixture is dry, add some more maple syrup, or a teaspoon of water. Shape mixture into balls, and place on a tray. Freeze for at least an hour. Enjoy chilled if possible.

cranberry and cadbury mini egg energy bites