Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

I love lemons and all things lemon scented. If I could, my house would smell like fresh lemons all the time. Some of my favorite memories involve lemons, like a dear friend of mine taking the time to make homemade lemonade on a summer day way too long ago. One day I hope to grow my own lemons, maybe just a potted Meyer lemon tree with a handful of lemons each season, but it would make my heart sing to pick the sunny fruit and use its juices and rind to make up a batch of lemon poppy seed scones.

I haven't baked as much as I'd like to lately. I haven't done a lot of things I enjoy these past couple months. I hadn't picked up my beloved camera since the beginning of January for little one's birthday. But, today I photographed lemon scones. I photographed lemons. I spent about twenty minutes photographing lemons in the evening light, while I ignored the kitchen floor that needs mopped and the dishes stacked from lunch. The light and the lemons were mesmerizing. Just what I needed after too many rainy days here in South Texas.

I discovered this scone recipe about five years ago. It originally appeared in Bon Appetit in March 2002. According to the notes, this recipe was developed by Ledbetters, a breakfast restaurant in Connecticut.

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

  • 3 Cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Cup plus one tablespoon sugar
  • 3 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 10 Tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup or more whole milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, 1 cup sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, lemon peel, and salt in large mixing bowl. Add butter and mix in using hands or a pastry cutter until mixture resembles a course meal. Whisk together the egg and lemon juice. Add to flour mixture until moist clumps form. Add milk and mix until dough forms, adding more milk if it seems too dry. Using floured hands, gather dough into ball and flatten into an 8 inch round. Cut into 8 wedges. Transfer scones to a large baking sheet, brush with milk, and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. 

Bake until scones are golden brown and a tester comes out clean, approximately 25 minutes. Cool. Store in airtight container at room temperature. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How to Make Popcorn the Old Fashioned Way

Since I got rid of my microwave, I have had to take a different approach toward food preparation. Out of habit, I ripped open a packet of instant oatmeal and poured it into the bowl before I remembered I couldn't just stick it in the microwave and zap it for about a minute. So I boiled some water, measured out the suggested water, poured it over the oatmeal and waited. The oats were still, uhm, not cooked and runny. Then I read the package. These were steel cut oats. I would need to cook them. In a pan. Why in the world am I buying instant oatmeal in wasteful little packages when I could simply cook my own? That's the question that popped into my head as I stirred the oatmeal into a paste and my son waited impatiently with hungry eyes. So, no more instant oats. Not even the organic ones.

Then there was the realization that I still have two packs of microwave popcorn in my pantry. We don't make popcorn often. My supermarket sells these mini packs of organic popcorn, but it still probably isn't much healthier than the regular kind that is supposed to contain all kinds of toxins from the chemicals they use in the bag liners. Tonight I have my son and grandson in tow at the grocery store. We go down the snack isle past the popcorn, and that is when I decide we are going to go home and make it the old fashioned way, the way I remember making it when I was a little kid.

I was a little nervous about popping popcorn on the stove top. It has been years since I have made it that way and I feared a burned mess with lots of smoke and fire alarms going off, but it turned out perfectly and the taste was much better than the bagged popcorn too. I have to admit it was fun to make, also. We might be having popcorn more often now.

Stove Top Popcorn...The Old Fashioned Way

  1. Cover bottom of lidded pan with 1/8 inch of melted coconut oil. Drop two or three kernels of popcorn into the oil and heat over medium heat until they pop.
  2. Add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup popcorn to the pan, depending on pan size. 
  3. Shake the pan until popping stops and remove from heat immediately to prevent burning.
  4. Empty into a bowl and season with salt, butter, or other favorite seasoning
  5. Voila, done! Enjoy!