A bit of philosophizing if I may. In my narrative medicine session at Mayo yesterday, we read from an excerpt of Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, a novel about a family living in rural Idaho by a glacial lake, and on the sly, a re-imagining of Moby Dick. I recommend this book more highly than most the food I’ve made.
My favorite line reads, “the very ordinariness of the things would recommend them. Every spirit passing through the world fingers the tangible and mars the mutable, and finally has come to look and not to buy.” The book troubles transience and impermanence. If we exist only “to look and not to buy,” why the fierce clamor after possession? “Love,” Robinson writes, “is half a longing possession does nothing to mitigate.”
It seems, then, that taste might be the perfect sense illustrative of the human condition. We experience a second of sweetness, a flash of flavor, and then it’s gone. Even the desire of sweetness is fleeting. I have a theory: perhaps food is something of a resurrection of the ordinary. A foreshadowing of the rarer light when, gasping and amazed, we know an eternal fullness—a scrumptious satiety. As my best friend Jayne used to say, “Food is an affirmation of life.” Eating as inkling. Hunger as half a promise that consumption does nothing to fulfill.
Regarding transience. I don’t believe the adage “a moment on your lips, a lifetime on your hips.” Exercise should spare us a lifetime of wearing our scones and muffins as personal innertubes. I believe, though, we need to get better as eaters to really revel in that moment on the lips. Life is short. YOLO and all that. Just as you have temporary residence on Earth, maple scones should have temporary residence in you.
Maple-Glazed Oatmeal Scones
1 1/2 cups oats, old fashioned oats
1 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
¼ cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 chunks
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1/3 cup raisins (optional) or use a different add-in such as chocolate chips, dried apples, cranberries, pecans, cinnamon chips, etc.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Toast the oats. Spread them on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until they are fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool. Set aside 2 tablespoons of oats to use as scone topping.
Raise oven heat to 450 degrees F.
In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Pulse 4 times to mix. Add butter chunks to flour mixture and pulse until mixture is the size of small peas.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, cream, milk, and maple syrup. Spoon out 1 tablespoon and set aside. You will use this for brushing tops.
Add the flour mixture and the oats to cream mixture and stir until almost mixed. Add the raisins (if using) and continue mixing just until mixture comes together in a ball.
On a lightly floured surface, shape the ball into a 7 inch circle (about 1 inch thick). With a floured knife, cut into 6 or 8 wedges, and place wedges 2 inches apart on a non-stick or parchment lined baking sheet.
Brush with reserved cream mixture and sprinkle with reserved oats and if desired, some sparkling sugar and extra cinnamon. Bake 14 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.
To make the maple glaze, add three tablespoons of maple syrup to ½ cup confectioners sugar and drizzle upon the scones when cool. Or, just drizzle your tongue. Maple is one of my favorite flavors. It tastes like a Saturday morning, which is the antidote to a Wednesday afternoon. Five Stars.
Got a new apron from Greg and Kim’s trip to New Orleans… another foreshadowing!