The adventures of an American lover of all things French...
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Summer Vacation Day 1: A porch with a view
Well, Summer Vacation, the 2017 Edition, is officially underway. There is the minor detail of about 20 student comments that still have to be written, but I have until Monday at 5:00 pm. Hours and hours. At the last minute, I decided to book myself into a writer’s retreat. Remember, in the last post I said I have a new writing project. I also just needed to get away for a few days all by myself. I spend my days during the school year doing for others from 7:30 am until 5:15 pm Monday through Friday. And I am pretty worn out right now. I need some peace and quiet. And I have found it. Just a short distance off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Where I hear birds calling, hummingbird wings beating, and an occasional fish splashing around in the small pond just beyond the porch where I am rocking. The sun is starting to set. The clouds are taking on a pink hue.
I imagine I will see a few lightening bugs soon. I will remember chasing after them as a little girl and trapping them in a mason jar with holes poked in the lid so that they could get some air. I am back in my hills.
This is where I spent the first 22 years of my life, with the exception of a few months spent in France between my sophomore and junior years of college.
Friends/colleagues I’ve taught with here in Durham for many years are beginning to retire. Every year now someone significant will leave. It began a couple of years ago. It won’t be easy for me. C’est la vie, n’est-ce pas? JC this year. She will still coach and I will see her as often (or maybe more often) than I do now, but somehow the thought of opening meetings next fall without her make me sad. Not for her, needless to say. She will find plenty to occupy her free time– sewing, exercising and traveling have been mentioned. All fine ideas. She and hubby are headed to France for two weeks in July. Bravo! They will have a blast. I am so proud and happy for them. Enough of that or I will make myself cry.
I roamed around for a short while this afternoon admiring the flowers in the small town I am near.
I found a little girl to sit next to. I didn’t strike up a conversation because she was totally engrossed in her book. I thought of this same scene happening in a few years but with Miss K by my side. Joy. I hope she will love to read as much as her Gramma does.
Night has fallen. It’s getting chilly. The birds are now silent. And I am getting sleepy. Day 1 has been a good one. Tomorrow the writing begins in earnest. Wish me sweet dreams and luck.
I am thinking of cherry scones. It’s about time to find ripe juicy cherries in the local grocery stores. I’ve missed them since last summer! I will go back to a past post for my favorite recipe to share. I recently found another recipe I want to try. Crumpets. Reminded me of scones. But I digress…
My new friend Teresa Lust (she isn’t in on the friendship yet) devoted a chapter of her book Pass The Polenta to the currant scones that a very good friend makes. She can’t divulge the real recipe, only her approximation of it. And, according to Teresa’s research, the scone is a Scottish invention. Maybe that’s why I love them so much. As good a reason as any, n’est-ce pas? But it is difficult to go wrong with butter and cream. And red juicy cherries. I’ll try currants another day.
Currant Scones (from Pass The Polenta and other writings from the kitchen by Teresa Lust, Random House, 1998) makes 8 scones
2 c. all-purpose flour 3 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. salt 3 Tbsp. sugar 6 Tbsp. butter, chilled, cut in pieces 1 c. heavy cream, chilled 1 c. currants (I used fresh cherries, pitted and chopped in quarters) 1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter, then toss with your fingers to coat each piece with flour. Work the mixture with your fingertips or a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-sized lumps of butter still remaining. Drizzle in the cream, stirring the mixture with a fork, until it just comes together. Alternatively, combine the dry ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor, add the butter, and process with quick pulses until it is just incorporated. Add the cream in a thin stream, and pulse only until the mixture starts coming together. Do not over-process. Turn dough out onto a cutting board, sprinkle in the currants, and knead lightly half a dozen times or so, until the dough forms a ball. (I had to add about 1/4 c. more flour because the dough was very sticky. Sprinkle the cutting board with flour, as well as your hands, before diving into the dough.) Pat the dough into a circle 3/4-inch high. Dip a pastry brush into the lightly beaten egg and baste the dough-circle. Cut into 8 wedges. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Bon appétit and happy summer vacation to all! Bonnes vacances! May you find a quiet spot to rest and regroup.