The Freshman 15 - Thanks to a Whole Bunch of Scones


When my sister hosted a play date for a few of our close friends and our little buggers, I knew it would be a good opportunity to do some baking. The only question was, should I make something for the adults or the kids? Since my nephew has a peanut and dairy allergy, my sister adamantly stated, "Make something for us, the moms." The possibilities were endless...cake? cupcakes? cookies? a tart? Then I remembered my sister and her best friend from college and their affinity for scones.

What made me remember? Well, there's a picture from my sister's freshman year in college that's sort of burned into my memory.  My sister is two years older than me, so when she returned home from her first year in college, I remember eagerly looking through an album she made documenting her first year at school.  One of the pictures shocked me (and no, the picture had nothing to do with illegal substances or nudity). I remember nearly falling off of my chair when I saw it. It was my sister Nadia and her best friend, Lena, sitting at a fondue restaurant. They were both wearing these God-awful ribbed, knit turtleneck sweaters (this was the late 90's people) that fit a bit too snugly against their plump bodies. Look, anybody who knows Nadia and Lena, would NEVER describe them as plump.  My sister has always been skinny with an athletic build. Always. But in this picture, she looked like an overstuffed sausage with her rounded head popping out of the neck of her too-tight sweater. I didn't giggle when I saw the picture. I was too shocked to speak.  Instead I asked her what the heck happened. She shrugged her shoulders and mumbled something about the freshman fifteen. Aaaaah, the freshman fifteen: Gaining weight during the first year of college. I knew it happened, but I guess it could even happen to my "I never gain a pound no matter how much I eat" older sister. She must have gained more than fifteen pounds her freshman year because I swear, she wasn't ever that fat when she was pregnant with each of her three children.

Shifting my eyes from the picture in my lap to her face, she didn't seem as chubby sitting in front of me. Without even asking she simply said "Scones." So she was blaming scones for her freshman fifteen? How the heck many scones was she wolfing down at college?  Apparently a lot. A ton. Way more than normal. Way more. I guess it was the product of a misunderstanding. Somehow Nadia and Lena convinced themselves that scones were not that fattening (!). I guess their logic went something like this: Scones are dry, thus they must not be made with that much fat. So, instead of choosing fattening muffins, let's choose the healthier, lower fat scone instead.

Apparently every time they grabbed a cup of coffee from Norris (the student union) or Starbucks, they opted for a scone rather than a muffin because they thought they were making a healthier, lower-fat choice. Aye, aye, aye.  When Nadia explained her scone theory to me, all I could do was slap my hand against my forehead while shaking my head in disbelief. Scones my be a drier texture than muffins, but that does not translate to being made with less fat. Sorry ladies, but scones often have more butter than muffins and thus more fat! I don't think Nadia has ever looked at a scone the same way since her freshman year in college. I'm just glad that her scone freshman fifteen memory hasn't put her off of scones permanently. When I entered her kitchen with a plate of blueberry and chocolate chip scones, I swear I heard her say that she loved me.


These recipes are adapted from a dozen or so scone recipes, plus a few of my own little adjustments here and there:

Blueberry Scones:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pint of blueberries
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

For the Glaze:
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon extract
2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
Sift all the dry ingredients (including sugar) in a medium bowl
Mix in the lemon zest
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, fork, knives, or your clean, cold fingers (my preference!) until the mixture resembles coarse meal with larger chunks of butter.
Mix in the blueberries
Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the milk. Blend all the ingredients together quickly with a rubber spatula.
Turn wet dough out onto a well floured work surface
Pat or roll dough out into a 9 to 12 inch circle.
Cut into 6 or 8 pieces (see photo)
Place on greased baking sheets
Bake for 15 min or until scones are slightly brown on top
While scones cool, mix the ingredients for the lemon glaze
Pour glaze over cooled scones.




Chocolate Chip Scones:
Same ingredients and methods as the blueberry scones with the following changes:
Substitute the blueberries for 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Increase sugar to 1/4 cup
Omit the lemon zest
Omit the glaze


Hmmm...how many different colors can I make?

I'm sure you all know that annoying friend who finds a song she/he loves, and they keep playing it over and over again. You don't want to ride in her/his car because the music selection will be an issue (do you really want to listen to Party in the USA on loop?). Well, my friends, I am one of those people! Thank God iPods were invented because now I can be addicted to my own songs, and I can shut out everyone else's whining. These days, I'm obsessed with Angus and Julia Stone, particularly their song "And the Boys." So, amazing.

My obsession with replaying songs I love can sometimes carry over to certain culinary creations that are adored by my friends and family, and on occasion the same can be said about knitting patterns. Especially those patterns that are easy (knit in the round with an easy-to-memorize pattern), functional (the person receiving the gift will actually wear it), and beautiful. That can most certainly be said about Elvira by Sanne Bejerregaard (you can also purchase the PDF pattern off of Ravelry).

This is the version I made for my friend's daughter. It isn't blocked, so please, ignore the slight crinkle in the yarn!


My favorite part of tunic/dress are the buttons. Little Y chose them. She was only 18 months old when I asked her to choose buttons that matched the dress (she already knew her colors by then). So as we sat in the huge button isle of a mega fabric store by our house, she giggled at all the buttons shaped like animals and grabbed for the ones sparkled like resin poured into a rhinestone mold (wait, that's exactly what they were - cheap rhinestone buttons). Then she laid her hands on the ones she finally chose. They look like stained glass, and they match perfectly without it being too perfect.

I will definitely be making this dress again, now all I have to do is decide which colors...


Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake - Daring Bakers


This month's Daring Baker's challenge really caught my attention (Who am I kidding? Every challenge thus far has done just that...) Swiss cakes (a sponge cake that's baked flat, then slathered with a filling, then rolled up and sliced) never interested me. I guess it's because it reminded me of those pre-packed Swiss Rolls made by Little Debbie. I have to admit that I was obsessed with them when I was growing up. Not because they tasted good. Nope. I wanted those trans-fat-filled, artificially flavored, corn syrup laced snacks only because I wasn't allowed to have them. My mom NEVER bought them. On occasion she would give in and buy the Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies (Yummmm! Now those actually taste good - well at least I think they do because it's been something like fifteen years, possibly longer, since I've eaten one). The main reason this challenge appealed to me is because the recipe called for making your own ice cream without the use of an ice cream maker. Huh...thought that wasn't possible.

 Below is the vanilla ice cream. Turned out pretty nicely - smooth consistency and pretty robust flavor. It was my husband's favorite part of the dessert, and he truly hearts ice cream. That being said, I have to say, making my own ice cream has pretty much ruined eating ice cream for me. Ice cream's never been that high on my list of desserts. I have a cost-benefit analysis that all desserts that I consume must be subjected to prior to ingesting them. It all has to do with a saying I remember my seventh grade Spanish teacher uttering as she laced up her running shoes over her pantyhose before heading off on her afternoon power walk around the school, "A minute on your lips and an eternity on your hips." If I'm going eat something that will inevitably find it's way to my pouch or bum, it better be worth it. Ice cream just doesn't pass my rigorous dessert analysis, and after making homemade ice cream, yeah, I won't be rushing out for a cone or quart of ice cream any time soon. No sir. I can't even eat a bowl of cereal with whole milk because the whole milk is so thick it makes me want to gag, so there's no way I can consume of bowl of ice cream without remembering how much flipping cream I poured into the bowl to make the ice cream for this dessert. Just thinking about it makes me shiver.


Making the sponge cake for the dessert was much more of a pleasant experience. The texture of the cake was light and airy, and the cake was quite satisfying in it's chocolate flavor. What I didn't really enjoy was the whipped cream filling. It was fine when at room temperature, but because the entire dessert has to be frozen when put together, the frozen whipped cream didn't do it for me.  Here are the Swiss Rolls:


I've loved the Daring Bakers, but alas I've decided that this is my last challenge. I have too many of my own recipes lined up to try, so I have to say farewell to the group in order to make room for my own agenda!