|The Hunger Games, mug of egg nog, fire|
But I discovered that something has changed, something big and permanent and bittersweet: My children are old. They make their own breakfasts. They pour their own egg nog. They unload the dishwasher when I ask them to and feed the chickens and read quietly for many hours at a stretch.
It was the loveliest of days. In the afternoon, I built a fire and we all sat there reading and I was overwhelmed with gratitude, a rare Soule Mama moment for me. Kind, healthy children, a warm, comfortable house. . .
I made dinner and it was perfect, especially perfect on this particular day. I made a warm pumpkin scone for a winter's afternoon, one of Nigel Slater's many Hobbity dishes. I have never eaten a non-sweet scone, so I was skeptical, but if you have pumpkins from your yard, or if your CSA gave you a pumpkin like mine did, make this now because it is easy and cheap and seasonal and delicious. But more than delicious: it is cozy.
I've adapted this recipe very slightly. You could use another squash if that's what you have.
pumpkin -- about 11 ounces after peeling and seeding (300 g)
1 large egg, beaten
6 tablespoons milk (90 ml)
2 teaspoons minced thyme leaves1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (140 g)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons cold butter (70 g)
butter for cooking
1. Cut the pumpkin into chunks and steam until soft and mashable. (I put it in a colander which I placed inside a large saucepan with a few inches of water. Covered it and let it cook for about 25 minutes.) Mash. Stir in the egg, milk, and thyme leaves.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter into chunks and rub it into the flour like you're making biscuits or pie crust. You're not after a smooth dough; you want a clumpy dough.
4. Stir in the pumpkin mixture. Season with black pepper. The damp dough will look something like this:
6. Oil a dinner plate. Loosen the underside of the scone with a spatula. Put the plate over the top of the pan, then flip the scone onto the plate. Slide the scone back into the frying pan. (If you are using a cast-iron skillet, unless you are Captain America you will need help with this.)
7. Cook the cake for a few more minutes to brown the bottom, then slip the pan in the oven for 7 minutes to bake through. Serves 4.
I served both bacon and cheese, but next time would serve only the cheese. I was able to focus on the perfection of the sharp cheese-squishy scone combination, but others were too intent on getting an extra strip of bacon. Bacon is so distracting.
For dessert, we had Slater's deeply appley apple crisp which entails sauteeing apple cubes before putting them in the baking dish and topping with crumble. This didn't redefine crisp for me, but it was very tasty.
Then I went to bed and dreamed that I gave a reading in a bookstore and only four people came. I really did dream that, which was odd because I thought I wasn't nervous at all about my reading today. Don't let my dream come true. If you're in Marin County: Book Passage, Corte Madera, 1 p.m.