By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet
The holiday season and 2009 is coming to an end. I feel it in the air, in my neighborhood, on the streets, and in my heart and spirit. We're coming into a new decade. My Earth Changes 2010 Predictions for Oracle 20-20 magazine will be published by January 1st. Ironically, while I can forecast global quakes and national health care reform continual craziness, when it comes to my own financial future (I flunked math) it's all fuzzy like a blizzard whiteout. So, I admit it. Recently, I did ring up a few friends-- visionaries, psychics, and astrologers. The outcome: I'm over read. I need to chill and let the wheel of fortune spin...
Speaking of a new decade and reading the future, I remember 1999--Y2K. In retrospect, I can laugh out loud. During that time, however, I spun out of control. I played into what everyone thought was going to happen: The end of the computer world as we knew it. I begged all my editors to pay me before 2000--so I could cash out just in case all of the bank computers failed. I rushed to Mr. Computer Doctor who was sleep deprived from all of his work but he upgraded my computer so it wouldn't fail. Ironically, fate worked against him and beating the ticking clock. It crashed.
I stuffed my pantry with canned food, bottled water, protein bars, crackers, and essential emergency foods galore. It was chock-full. I was ready in case the world was going to slide back in time to the pioneer days. On New Year's Eve, I went to bed early with my furry critters and turned on the TV. I thought I would see each country, one by one, go down. But nothing huge happened. I was relieved. I was embarrassed. Life went on...
On the topic of spinning out of control, are you dizzy from baking holiday candies, cakes, cookies, custards, muffins, and pies? I am taking a sweets vacation, sort of. In fact, that is my New Year's resolution. A little dark chocolate (it cuts cravings for unhealthy sweets) and I'm going to cook more than bake.
Pumpkin scones are a nice way to ease me and you into this New Year's promise. The scone is a popular British bread that is quick to make, served with tea, and also enjoyed in other countries around the world. A dropped scone is easier to make than other varieties and it tastes just as good. And the European touch I like to use comes from using European Style butter (creamy and rich), Mediterranean Sea Salt, dark chocolate, olive oil--and keeping the portion smaller than larger.
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European Style Pumpkin Scones
3 1/2 cups 100% natural whole wheat flour (I live in high altitude)
3/4 cup sugar (I did use granulated)
1/4 cup European Style butter (I'll lose this phase in 2010)
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 brown egg
2 teaspoons allspice
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
a dash of Mediterranean Sea Salt
1/2 - 1 cup dark chocolate chips (60% cacao) optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salts. Add chunks of butter (sliced in small squares). In another bowl combine pumpkin, milk, and egg and stir till a dough-like mixture forms. (I used my hands.) Drop large spoonfuls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar or Mediterranean Sea Salt or both (optional). Bake till brown and crusty, about 12 to 14 minutes. Makes 12.
The first scone I tasted was plain, warm, and had a refreshing texture--a change of flavor from all those sweets. Later, a bit of the chocolatey one caught me by surprise. I love dark chocolate but I prefer the plain scones. To enhance a warm scone for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, try herb butter (just a small amount). Mix a teaspoon with a dash of fresh basil and parsley. Or try drizzling the scone with a bit of herbal extra virgin olive oil--garlic or rosemary.
As the fire crackles in the fireplace, the four-leggers sleep, I'm glad I made these scones. They are a new beginning for me, and perhaps you, too, to bring in the New Year with good food, less sweets--except quality gourmet dark chocolate--and good vibes for another decade that promises the best and worst of times, with respect to Charles Dickens.