Spring is being a total tease this year. We had a few glorious days of temperatures that spiked north of 50, practically tropical really. Then it rained for three days. Stayed cool for two more, and then more rain.
East central Indiana is a soggy, muddy mess. Spring has to stop this toying game. I am not interested in mind games, just be here already.
Every year as winter melts away, I start to think about religion and reflecting on how negligent I’ve been as a Catholic. That’s right folks, it’s LENT!
Lent is the 40 day (roughly) period before Easter where most Christians remember the sacrifice Jesus made for the human race. In the Catholic tradition it’s really 46 days, but the six Sundays of Lent aren’t counted because their viewed as quasi-Easters. I never really understood that, probably more of an excuse to break the “no chocolate fast” people put themselves on.
The Lenten season is typically a time for fasting, prayer and arbitrary rules for self-denial. Growing up the nuns who ran the parish school religion classes at my church always had us write out what we were giving up for lent. Looking back on that now, I realize how uncreative I was. I was also a liar.
1. “Obey Mom and Dad.” So this is a commandment but, like, this just makes me giggle.
2. “No candy.” I went to public school. I happily accepted bribes from teachers for good behavior.
3. “Clean my room.” This still does not get done.
Anyway, as I’ve grown I think my Lent sacrifices have matured as well. Trying not to swear. Attending mass every week. Donating to good causes.
Lent, for me, is no longer solely about giving things up. It’s about embracing good things, and being a supportive and giving member of my community.
That being said, I still like to challenge myself in the self-deprivation department. For the past few years I’ve gone without soda pop, which is a lot easier than I thought it would be. One year I decided to go without coffee. Worst decision ever. It was a dark, dark time.
This year I decided to go vegan for Lent. I have a feeling this will be extremely difficult and tortuous. I like butter. I’ve already decided that I’m starting Easter with a butter sandwich. Maybe some Slovenian Sausage on the side.
In preparation for my journey into animal-free dining, I’m cooking up all the non-vegan foods in my kitchen. I’ve subsisted on cream of mushroom soup, Parmesan cheese encrusted pasta and scones.
Oh my word, the scones.
I made them Monday night, just after I finished watching “Sex and the City” reruns on E!, the entertainment channel.
The recipe is from Molly Wizenberg at Orangette. It’s a traditional Scottish Scone recipe. It’s delicious. I used frozen fresh cranberries, half of my last bag!
1/2 cup milk (use milk with some fat; I used 2%)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 Tbs. sugar (Ms. Wizenberg recommends finely milled raw cane sugar, I used white it was fine)
Flavor additions of your choice: raisins, dried currents, dried apricots, citrus zest, candied ginger, berries (must be frozen)
1. Preheat oven to 425* F.
2. Beat together milk and egg, set aside. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Rub the butter into the flour mixture. Work it in until you have no lumps larger than a pea. Add the sugar and your flavor choice and stir to mix.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, reserving a bit of the milk-egg mixture to use as a glaze. Bring dough together gently with a wooden spoon.
4. Place dough on a lightly floured counter and knead it no more than 12 times. Pat dough into a 1/2 inch thick round and cut into 8 wedges. Place on ungreased baking sheet or Silpat. Glaze wedges. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden. Cool on rack.
What I did:
— I did not reserve some of the liquid for the glaze. I had two eggs to use up so I made a new glaze, which I forgot to put on, and then removed the pan from the oven and glazed them after they had baked for about a minute.
— I didn’t count the kneading. Well, I started but then I lost count so I just decided to stop.
— I didn’t use a Silpat sheet. Have since discovered I need to invest in a Silpat.
Even with my forgetfulness, the scones were superb. New baking recipes always scare me because I’m a cook, I add I don’t measure — “guesstimate” is embedded in my lexicon.
I made eight scones and then ate four in two hours. The rest will be a perfect breakfast and lunch for Fat Tuesday. I’m also declaring a new day to the start of Lent. It’s called Chubby Monday.