Sunday, July 29, 2007

Putting the House To Rights (Recipes Included)

The smell of baking scones fills the kitchen. Lauren just mixed up a batch and popped them in the oven. John is emptying the dishwasher. Faith and Claire are tag teaming with the vacuum. All are working cheerfully. A bag of wintergreen Lifesavers stashed in the cupboard goes a long way toward sweetening their work ethic. They have graduated from helpless to helpful. The helpless days felt long indeed but I am surprised at the speed with which the helpful days have arrived.

While they bake and wash and vacuum, I put shoes on the shoe shelf, fold laundry and tuck it away. A quick peek out the back door reveals toys, tools, more shoes and a dog leash. I am tired of cleaning so I scoop everything up and dump it in the Mothership (our catchall basket) in the corner of the living room. All of this takes less than an hour. If I am faithful to keep on top of shopping and sorting, cleaning and cooking, it's easy instead of overwhelming. I enjoy the rhythm of daily tasks.

Now the children are gathered in the playroom playing Crash on the Game Cube with Stuart and I am alone in an orderly living room. I like the way the house feels when the beds are made and the dishes done. It's satisfying to see the fruit bowl filled with fresh fruit and the book basket stocked with fresh library books. When my counters are clean and the living room is cleared of books and toys, my mind is cleared of clutter and there's more room for thinking.

The scones are cooling on the counter. Lauren fills our dinner cart with plates, water, whipped cream, fresh peaches, butter and the scones. We sit around the table and assemble dessert. The scones are delicious. Light and flaky. We eat and share our compliments with the chef. We delight in each other's company and soak in the refreshment of the resting time that follows our chore time.

I have had some recipe requests in the past few days. I will share them here in case more of you are interested. I write all of our recipes in the format I am using here. It makes it easy for my little bakers to follow the directions without too much help from me. We keep all of our favorites together in a binder. Each page is encased in a plastic sheet protector because we're messy cooks. This way I don't have dozens of cookbooks cluttering my kitchen.

(This is the Classic Currant Scone Recipe from The New All Purpose Joy of Cooking)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl whisk:

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt


6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

Blend the butter into the flour using the back of a fork until the dough resembles bread crumbs.

Whisk together, then add all at once:

1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Blend until the dry ingredients are moistened. Dump the dough out onto the counter and knead gently just until the dough sticks together. Press dough onto a ungreased baking sheet and pat into an 8 inch circle. Brush the top with 2 to 3 teaspoons of cream and sprinkle with sugar.
Use a knife or a pizza cutter to slice the circle into 8 pieces. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on rack and serve warm.

*My favorite variation is to substitute a teaspoon of orange extract for the vanilla and add about 3/4 cup chocolate chips to the dough. You could add any type of dried fruit or flavored extract that appeals to you.

Lemon/Raspberry Streusel Muffins
Mentioned in the sidebar under Around the House
(from Cookin'Up Country favorite breakfast cookbook)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a separate bowl, combine:

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup vanilla or lemon yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredient jut until moistened. Fold in raspberries. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full (I fill them right to the top.) Sprinkle the tops with the topping.


In small bowl, combine:

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter

Blend with the ingredients with the back of a fork.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. (I have found that the bottoms of the muffins are less likely to get dark if I set the muffin tin in a glass baking dish.) Let the muffins cool in the pan for at least 1o minutes before removing onto a wire rack.

Yield: About 1 dozen


Alana said...

Wow, that sounds like a truly wonderful day!

Cheryl said...

What wonderful moments! The scones smell fabulous (can I have the recipe?, and we can feel the love bonds. This, in my opinion, is the definition of Shalom. May you have many more days like this.

A beautifully written family portrait.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Oh I am so ready to come on over and join you all. I love scones...even more than I love an orderly house! I look forward to this helpful stage in the future and I'll have to remember to "sweeten" the work. Thanks for the beautiful glimpse into some time in your house.

Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

You just made me hungry!!
How about posting that scone recipe?

Sounds like a wonderful day.

love you!

Jean 1 said...

Kate, what a beautiful picture. I feel like sitting down with a cup of coffee now and enjoying your quiet and scones. I love those times so much and am blessed to have kids that have surpassed the "helpless" and are now in the "helpful" stage of life.

ColoradoDreaming said...

What a sweet picture you painted for us. And the recipes sound wonderful!!! Can't wait to find time to try them. Maybe a cooking "class" this fall for my kids!

Meg said...

Thanks for the recipes. They both sound great and I look forward to trying them!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Ooooo - glad I popped back in - I am thrilled to see the recipes!

lori said...

an orderly house and fresh scones...sounds like heaven on earth! It really is found in the SIMPLE things!
sit and take it ALL in...the smell of fresh baked goodies and the smell of clean!

Faith said...

Ah, an orderly house is a beautiful thing, isn't it? And how wonderful to have the kids and you all working together to create it. Thanks for the recipes; they sound fabulous!

Janelle said...

Yummy! The Lemon Raspberry Muffins sound awesome. I am going to have to make those. I bet they taste like summer.