Edible Nonfiction: Today's pick
Desperation Scones by Penelope Dewar
During those few fine years of my childhood when we lived in a thatched cottage near one of the oldest inhabited spots in England, I developed a fondness for scones. I succumbed to the ancient charms of golden rich quick breads that taste like home.
In the old coach house, the scene of our first English Christmas, they were served with moulded butter pats and black currant jam. In the cottage, I rejected my mother's jugged hare and kippers, but relished her scones. On vacations, I enjoyed others' scones, thick with thick cream, for popular teas.
Back in Canada, alone at nineteen, I was soothed through that summer by a generous friend and her daily scones. Moving on with her recipe, I adjusted ingredients and techniques as I adjusted myself to life circumstance. I learned to blend gently, and I ground grains to flour, milked goats and churned their cream to butter to make then bake scones in my wood stove.
And when I left my stove, home and husband I worked a while with my mother. After my father's sudden death she cooked for a remote lodge where scones once saved our day, and us. Preparing breakfast for eighty, I don't recall my mother's words when she learned that her ordered milk hadn't arrived. But I do recall her anger, and mine, as if 'no milk' tipped the scales of our woes to beyond accepted endurance limits.
We complained, swore, argued, screamed that all the usual breakfast fare needs milk. We raged and nothing consoled, until we found oranges. Into the blender we tossed them, whole, then we nervously laughed and added juice and peel to the old mix. And we baked enough and served them hot and eighty agreed that desperate together we'd made the best scones ever.
Penelope Dewar is from Qualicum Beach, BC