2.14.2009

the mainland

Home. Where to put it? I've never been sure. It's the exclusivity of the thing that trips me up. Home. So conservative and tidy. So imposingly monogamous. But, see, when you're born and a little bit raised in one place, and the rest of the way raised in another, and when somewhere along the line home splits in two and you're always one foot here, one there, monogamy doesn't seem all that fair. What's more, it doesn't seem right.

So there's that.

And then there's the fact that I fall hard and fast for cities. Give me a city anywhere on this earth, and I'll happily slap down some roots and make a fine home of it. Born in New York City, I lived there until I was five. Then along came Ohio, which I called home until the city drew me back for college. I've spent my adult life (with the exception of a couple of years abroad) ping ponging back and forth between coasts: Seattle. Boston. San Francisco. New York. I may be flitty, but fickle, never. I love them all, these cities. Home is Alice in Wonderland in Central Park, and the smell of a thick, Ohio August night pushing its way through the screen door. It's a yellow plastic mixing bowl, a rumbling, untamed storm, and a wide open sky. It's a baguette from Le Panier, Beecher's Cheese, and tayberry jam in hand, Eli beside me, and the wind in my hair. There's the Mission District and my rusty magenta bike chained outside, and sweaty ten mile runs up and down the West Side Highway. Home is the Charles River footpath and Cambridge morning light. And, and, and... I claim it all.

All of this is to say that I've taken this show on the road. For the next two weeks I'll be broadcasting from Central Ohio, home to a large chunk of my immediate family, including Zelda the dog.

Zelda

It's also home - a home, anyway - to me.

Home is complicated for most of us in some way or another, isn't it? My dad and step-mom, Amy, are both transplants to Ohio from the Northeast and the South, respectively. Their home is here, and yet they are not entirely at home here. The pile of magazines on the coffee table betrays their dueling loyalties: Southern Living. Berkshire Living. The New Yorker. No wonder I have a roaming eye myself when it comes to where I call home.

When I would come home to Ohio over college winter breaks, my friends on the east coast would call me and ask, "So, what time is it there?" Uh, same time as it is where you are, my friends. Yet for some reason, Ohio seemed to them an exotic and distant land, teeming with cows and blurring lazily into other Midwestern states that served them mainly as terrain for flying over en route to L.A. from New York. If you're born and raised in Ohio, and are content to stay put your whole life, you're provincial. But if you never set foot outside the Northeast, you're somehow worldly. Maybe someone can explain that to me one day. I'm a big city girl, through and through, but there's nothing like returning to the mainland every now and again.

Allow me to show you around.

I thought I'd begin with a taste from the food section of our local paper. The humble headlines make me smile: Nuts give turkey burgers distinctive crunch. Recipe uses leftover rice. And, my personal favorite, Oysters could stir up feelings. Then there's the "Cook's Corner," a local recipe exchange column. This week, in response to readers' requests, a recipe for hot dog soup (containing "1 cup shredded American cheese") and ham loaf were listed. I thought that one of the Valentine's Day recipes might be more your speed, and so I attempted a batch of the Cinnamon Scones from E3.

cinnamon scone on plate

I'm sorry to say, dear Valentines, that they were mediocre. Pleasantly mediocre, perhaps, but mediocre nonetheless. Made with cream instead of buttermilk, these scones were kind of heavy and dry. They did look pretty, at least, served on my grandmother's flowered plates.

Since I'm sure you would much rather eat a scone than merely admire its deceptive good looks from afar, something had to be done. So I reached back east and pulled out a tried and true recipe for scones that I think you will enjoy. This recipe is a snap, and is just the thing when you're in the mood for something biscuit-y but would rather not get dough beneath the nails.

Single oat scone

Maybe home is best defined as anywhere you feel comfortable wearing your pajamas to the breakfast table.

Welcome to the mainland. I hope you'll make yourself at home.

[Special thanks to Janet On the Planet for lunch at Dosa Corner, for e-mails that make me smile even when I'm dead set on feeling miserable, and for the title of this post.]

Maple-Oatmeal Scones
Adapted from Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

For biscuits:

3 1/2 c. flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. quick cooking oats (plus extra for sprinkling)
2 T. baking powder
2 T. granulated sugar
2 t. salt
1 pound (4 sticks) cold butter, diced
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

For egg wash:
1 egg beaten with 1 T.

For glaze:
1 1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking pans with parchment paper.

Mix the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. At the lowest speed, blend in the butter until the pieces of butter are pea-sized. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, 1/2 c. maple syrup, and the four lightly beaten eggs. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1 inch thickness. (There will be little chunks of butter visible in the dough.) Cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter and place on baking sheets. Brush the tops of the biscuits with egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes.

While the biscuits are baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients. Allow the finished biscuits to cool slightly (if they're too hot, the glaze will slide right off), and then top each one with a spoonful of glaze and a sprinkling of quick cooking oats.

Makes 16-20 biscuits, depending on the size of your biscuit cutter.

plate of oat scones

9 comments:

Gershon said...

1. Zelda is adorable.
2. Oysters do stir up feelings. Probably not the feelings intended, though.

jess said...

Hi, Gershon
Thanks for your comments! I'll tell Zelda you like her look. I suspect she's already well aware that she's a super-cutie, but I'm willing to stroke her ego nonetheless.

SE said...

I was treated to a batch of these scones and they are delicious. The perfect amount of sweetness. Certainly not nearly as sweet as dear Zelda there. (Can you bring her back "home", Jess?)

finsmom said...

These sound heavenly! I just made pumpkin scones over on my blog, and have been fighting a scone addiction ever since! I am going to have to give yours a try!

Jess said...

Hi, SE
Thanks for vouching for these scones! Unfortunately sweet Zelda will have to stay put in Ohio. I do wonder what she would make of Cambridge...

Finsmom, your scones look lovely! Pumpkin scones have a special place in my heart: At our wedding, guests were greeted with warm cider and pumpkin scones.

Kevin said...

Maple scones sound great!

Jess said...

Hello, Kevin. Thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, they were delicious!

Elana B said...

Hi Jess,
I made these scones last night and they were delicious! I used 3/4 the amount of butter and increased the amount of buttermilk and added a little bit of plain yogurt. Maybe after Pesach I'll try the Cherry Corn Scones recipe. Thanks for sharing!

Jess said...

Hi, Elana. I'm so glad you like the scones. Thanks for letting me know! It sounds like you did a great job lightening up the recipe a bit.