The Fresh Market Scone Clone

The Story

Back in North Carolina, I fell deeply in love with the blueberry scones sold at the sweet Fresh Market grocer. It accompanied my weekend blog writing at a nearby café. Until they stopped selling it. Another lover, lost. I was devastated. The “plop” scone that replaced it was terrible. I complained to management, it came to naught. But then, one random day, my lover returned to me! I copied the ingredients from the cellophane wrapper onto a brown napkin at the cafe and put it in my computer bag. Good thing. The return didn’t last long. I set about to compare the ingredients to recipes and experimented until I got as close as I could. Now, fifteen years later, I don’t really remember the original, but this one is coffee dunkable and not doughy. It’s not for everyone, and surely not for Britons, but I like it. And so did Mama!

The Recipe

2 c flour (½ white, ½ white wheat—or all white)
2-½ tsp baking powder
⅓ c sugar + 2 T
½ tsp salt
¼ c margarine (I use butter, it’s what I have)
2 egg yolks, beaten
⅓ c low-fat milk (I use whole, it’s what I have)
⅓ c. dried blueberries (fresh berries make the dough gloppy)
1 tsp orange zest
Raw sugar

Combine dry ingredients, cut in margarine. Stir in blueberries. Add beaten egg yolks and milk. Knead 3-4 times. Pat out dough on parchment-lined baking sheet, ¾ inch thick. Cut in 6-8 wedges and separate on the sheet. Brush tops with milk. Liberally sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake at 425º on bottom rack for 14 minutes.

 

Hail to the Kale Salad

The Story

There was much Mama could not eat, due to her digestive issues, but she was long devoted to dark green leafy vegetables for eye health. I don’t know that it mattered, in the end, her vision all but completely gone. But maybe it put off the inevitable for a while. At one visit to her long-time macular degeneration specialist, he curtly dismissed her fears of going blind, saying, “You will never be blind.” I raised my eyebrows, and Mama didn’t buy it for a minute. Perhaps he would have been right had she not lived so many more years.

I was not a fan of kale, but I learned to cook it for her. (Goat cheese makes all things edible.) She couldn’t eat it raw, of course, and I had no interest either. Until, my first road trip after her death, a friend and I went to the Redwoods. On the way back, in Bend, Oregon, we discovered Hail to the Kale salad. It’s a summer staple now.

There isn’t really a recipe, just the ingredients from the menu. I alter it as I please, adding and deleting ingredients, and you can too. (P.S. There are many Hail to the Kale recipes online. Google is your friend, though I haven’t explored them.)

The Recipe

Curly kale, massaged (Google it)
Brussels sprouts, sliced thin
Cabbage, sliced thin
Carrots, julienned
Green apples
Quinoa
Candied walnuts
Cranberries
Balsamic dressing

Additions: goat cheese or feta; avocado; mango; salmon, pan-seared tuna, or chicken

Strawberry-Citrus Shortcake

The Story:

Strawberry Shortcake was a June staple in my childhood, Pacific NW strawberry season coming as it did in convergence with my mother’s birthday, my birthday, and my sister’s birthday. It was never ever made with the tasteless little store-bought sponge cakes sold in the produce section at the grocery store. Never with pound cake, a perfectly good dessert, but not shortcake. We might have had strawberries with angel food cake, but it was not called strawberry shortcake. I suspect my mother’s recipe for shortcake was the one on the Bisquick box, but I don’t know that for certain.

Berries were sliced, crushed, and sprinkled with sugar—the kids’ job—then left on the counter to marinate. Whipped cream was made from whipping cream and powdered sugar, whipped up in an honest-to-god mixer or with a manual hand-mixer, never squirted from a can, never Cool Whip.

I confess to having used a sugary biscuit dough recipe for shortcake, maybe even Bisquick, but none tops this one my sister found and uses. It’s strawberry season! Enjoy!

The Recipe:

Sugared strawberries w/ Grand Marnier

8 c. fresh strawberries, stemmed & sliced
¼ – ⅓ c. sugar
3 T. fresh orange juice
3 T. Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, or OJ

Shortcake

2-½ c. flour
2-½ tsp. baking powder
½ c. yellow cornmeal
⅔ c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1-½ c. heavy cream
4 tsp. grated lemon zest
4 tsp. grated orange zest
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
Sugar for coating (about ⅓ c.)

Whipped cream

To prepare the strawberries: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

To make the shortcake: Preheat the oven to 350º. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Stir in the cream, lemon zest, and orange zest until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Form into a ball and knead 8 to 12 times, or until the ball holds its shape. Cut the dough into 8 equal portions and roll into balls. Roll the dough in the melted butter, then the sugar. Place on a created baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Let cool slightly on a wire rack.

To assemble: Cut each shortcake in half. Top the bottom half with fruit and whipped cream. Place the top halves on top and serve!

Best Ever Granola

The Story:

I had the great privilege during my sojourn with my mother to attend a master class at Hedgebrook women’s writing retreat center on Washington’s Whidbey Island. A week of living alone in a tiny cottage and being cooked for. None of the locally sourced healthy food was food Mama could have eaten, due to her digestive issues, and therefore food I did not prepare. It was pure heaven, and the granola was to die for. Seriously. I bought the Hedgebrook cookbook just for the granola recipe. From then on, there was a jar of it in my tiny kitchenette, along with yogurt and homemade applesauce that I warmed up. My daily breakfast. Now my Airbnb guests enjoy it during their stay!

The Recipe:

Makes about 8 cups.

4 c rolled oats
2 c flaked unsweetened coconut
2 c almonds, coarsely chopped
¾ c dried cranberries
¾ c raisins
¾ c canola oil
¾ c agave nectar (or honey, but it does taste different with honey)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom (opt., not in original recipe)
A handful of pistachios! (also not in original recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss together oats, coconut, almonds, raisins, and cranberries (and pistachios, if using).

In a separate small bowl, combine oil, agave, cinnamon, and cardamom (if using). Stir well. Pour over dry ingredients and mix completely together until evenly coated.

Spread onto two 12×16 inch baking sheets lined with parchment paper. [I find it bakes best one sheet at a time.]

Bake stirring occasionally, until mixture is an even golden brown color, about 12-15 minutes. [I stir once after 7-9 minutes, then bake 4-5 more (times depending on the size of your baking sheet).] Don’t over bake, it hardens as it cools. Freezes well, and is lovely and crunchy eaten straight from the freezer.

Mug Brownie

The Story:

Sometimes you Just. Need. Chocolate. And you need it NOW. But you really don’t need a whole pan full. When I lived with my mother, my little suite in the basement didn’t have an oven or a stove, just a microwave. I used the kitchen of course, but sometimes I just wanted to stay in my own space. I tried lots of microwave mug brownie recipes, this is my favorite because it makes its own sauce . . . if you don’t overcook it. Be sure to use a really big mug, or you will have a microwave mess. More importantly, you won’t have a chocolate fix.

The Recipe:

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons sugar (2 T is enough, in my opinion)
1-1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons milk
2-1/2 tablespoons oil (or melted butter)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Or rum. Or Kahlua
1-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
4 tablespoons hot water

Instructions:
In a small bowl add the flour, sugar, 1st measure of cocoa powder and baking powder and stir well.
Add to this the milk, oil and vanilla essence and and mix until fully combined.
Pour into a microwave proof oversized mug or dessert bowl (it will rise during baking).
Sprinkle over the brown sugar and second measure of cocoa powder.
Carefully pour over the hot water. (Do not stir.)
Cook in the microwave for 1 and a 1/2 minutes (or less), remove carefully, it’s hot!
Serve warm with whipped cream—or ice cream or chocolate sauce!

Homemade Electrolyte Drink

The Story

In an effort to avoid taking my mother to the ER when she was clearly not feeling well, but her symptoms didn’t seem to match those of her previous bowel blockages, I took her to an urgent care instead. Diagnosis: dehydration. Cure: Gatorade. My mother always had a cup of hot water by her side, fooling both of us into thinking she was getting plenty of fluids; but she only sipped it. She began drinking quantities of Gatorade, then complained of stomach pain. A Google search confirmed that store-bought electrolytes drinks can indeed cause stomach upset, especially for sensitive stomachs. It is full of sugar and artificial dyes and sweeteners. So I started making it myself.

The Recipe

1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups of water
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 pinch baking soda

Combine all ingredients in a blender container and blend well. Or You just combine ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake until blended. Lasts three days in the refrigerator.

And a bonus for you: Limoncello Vodka Collins

3/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 cup limoncello (or more)
3/4 cup cold club soda
Ice cubes
Stir all of the above together.
Serves two generously.

Kale & Cauliflower Soup

The Story

Mama loved soup. By which I mean, she loved soup. She loved to make it and eat it and clean out the refrigerator into her Revere Ware pot, and she loved to preserve it. There were so many half-pint yogurt containers in the freezer developing freezer burn, I couldn’t keep up with it. When yogurt packagers stopped putting plastic lids on one-serving containers (a travesty), she covered them with plastic wrap and, foil, securing it with freezer tape or a rubber band. She went through a lot of freezer tape. She spent hours in the kitchen making soup when she couldn’t do much more.

I like soup . . . not so much. Fortunately I do like to make it, and there are stories in my memoir about making Mama soup, and of me learning to use the vegetables she bought at the farmer’s market that I would never have bought. And avoiding using the recipes she gave me from her worn out cookbooks, finding more interesting ones on the internet and not telling her. (The Therapeutic Lie in action. See Tips & Tools.) I rarely used her beloved VitaMix, especially after once being called to the kitchen to be scolded for pushing off buttons in the wrong order. Instead, I burned out the motor on the hand held immersion blender my sister gave Mama, which she never used.

Here is one we both liked.

The Recipe

Ingredients:

1 large head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
5 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./80 ml) olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large bunch curly kale, stems removed, leaves torn into
  1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
7 cups (56 fl. oz./1.75 l) chicken or vegetable broth
1/3 cup (1 3/4 oz./50 g) pine nuts, toasted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).

In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender and the edges are browned and crisp, about 22 minutes. Reduce the oven to 300°F (150°C).

In a bowl, toss half of the kale with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil and season with salt. Place on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast, stirring once halfway through, until the kale is crispy, 26 to 28 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower and broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining kale, increase the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a VitaMix (or other) blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Top with the crispy kale and pine nuts and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Honey Lemon Applesauce

The Story

My mother ate a lot of applesauce, mixing her crushed Centrum Silver vitamin into it. She could no longer home-can it as she had in my youth, or process it for freezing as she had in later years. One of my favorite treats when I came to my parents’ home for a visit, was warm homemade applesauce and Tillamook vanilla yogurt, made in Oregon. I tried to recreate that breakfast when I returned to my own home, but store-bought applesauce is subpar, at best.

Permanently back in my mother’s kitchen, I learned to make and can applesauce, using apples from the trees below our home and those from our neighbor’s orchard—from which I had picked an apple as I walked up the driveway to catch the school bus or to feed my horse the first time I lived here.

Now I add homemade granola and use plain Greek yogurt, but still Tillamook. Made in Oregon (on the land of the indigenous Tillamook and other native peoples, whom they acknowledge as those who came before and whose continued presence is important to their future), the Tillamook Cooperative uses sustainable production methods and just employment practices. And it’s darn good. You can find out if it’s sold in your neck of the woods here.

I tried many applesauce recipes before settling on a favorite. Here it is for you!

The Recipe

Ingredients:

4 pounds apples (@10 large)
1 cup honey
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions:

First, I use apples off the trees. If multiple varieties are ripe at the same time, I mix them, which I read is a good thing. I ignore any  instruction in a recipe that indicates what kind of apple to use. Use what you like, get a variety, in my opinion it doesn’t matter, though they will all taste different. If you have a favorite apple, you will probably like sauce made from it.

How many apples you need depends on the size. (It doesn’t have to be exactly four pounds.) My orchard apples are big, and it takes about 10 for one recipe.

How you process it depends on what equipment you have. I happen to have my mother’s ancient Foley Food Mill, which is a wonder. I roughly core the apples to cut down on grinding time, but don’t peel them. (If you want to make chunky sauce—or you don’t have a mill—you will need to core carefully and peel, unless you use transparent apples, the skin on them cooks down. You could also use a peeler/corer machine, which is pretty slick, but it only works with perfectly shaped apples, which homegrown are not.

Cut the apples in chunks and throw them in a large pot. Or a small pot if you are making a small batch. I use my large soup pot and double the recipe. You can add a little water to get them started cooking. Add more water if you need to, but apples have a lot of water in them, so be cautious.

Cook apples down to near sauce consistency, stirring frequently to keep from burning. If you are using a mill, it will smooth out chunks. If you peeled and cored, cook it to whatever consistency you want, or you could put it through a blender-type machine.

Return sauce to the clean pot, if you ran it through the mill, and add the honey, lemon juice, lemon peel, and cinnamon. Voila! Yummy applesauce.

For canning instructions: Google.

Blueberry Plum Buttermilk Coffee Cake

The Story

Mama wouldn’t let me help her prepare her breakfast, or she wasn’t happy when she had to ask me to—there’s a good bit about that in the book—but on Thursday mornings, we developed a routine and I cooked a “knife and fork” breakfast, as my father called it. Meaning not cereal. A coffee cake, cut in serving-size squares and put in the freezer then warmed in the oven, really jazzed up our soft scrambled eggs—and earned me jewels in my crown.

The Recipe

Ingredients for Topping:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Ingredients for Coffee Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 heaping cup Italian plums diced
  • 1 heaping cup blueberries

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square pan.
  2. In a bowl, mix topping ingredients together with a fork or pastry cutter until combined. Set aside.
  3. For the cake, beat butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until fluffy. I do this by hand; a mixer is great. Add the egg and vanilla and beat in.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture alternately with the buttermilk, stirring just until combined. Batter will be thick.
  6. Gently fold in the fruit, and spread batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with topping and bake 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  7. The coffee cake is good warm or cold. Cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before serving.