Yesterday, an old school friend of Chris's came to tea. He was in our area, visiting Tranquillity House which is an eco-friendly, zero-energy house just up the road from where we live. Tim had read an article about it in the Daily Telegraph and arranged to have a guided tour with some other people. In the end, we had a short peek inside, too, when Tim went back there to collect his car. It was fascinating to see just some of the energy saving ideas in action but also, as George, our 14 year-old certainly felt, quite frightening hearing the owner's prognosis on the future of the planet. I'll let him speak for himself through the link above.
Our friend Tim is originally from Cornwall and I know he is fond of home-baking, so I had made scones and a lemon drizzle cake for tea. As I got the Rodda's out to put on our scones, Tim pointed out that the picture on the packaging contradicts what all true Cornish people know, which is that the clotted cream goes on first followed by the jam on top.
My Mum, who is Irish, makes the best scones ever. She uses no recipe, doesn't measure anything, simply does it all by eye and 'feel'. She is able to magic up a batch of scones in lightning quick time. I remember when I was a child, visitors arriving unexpectedly. From the time they were spotted pulling up outside our house and had walked up the drive to our front door, Mum had fired up the oven and had the scone dough mixed! I was born and brought up in Scotland and therefore, I think, more hung up on measurements and accuracy, so this is my calculated version of the scone recipe. The key things to remember for perfect scones are: be light of touch, do not knead, do not roll with a rolling pin, keep the mixture slack (wet), cook at a high temperature. I don't put any sugar in mine, but sometimes add a couple of handfuls of sultanas or raisins.
Pre-heat your oven to 220o Celsius (425o F, Gas 7).
In a large mixing bowl combine: 1 lb plain flour-1 tsp bicarbonate of soda- 2 tsps cream of tartar - pinch of salt - up to 4oz unsalted butter, cut into pieces.
Rub these ingredients lightly together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add one beaten egg and a carton of buttermilk (or half a pint of milk) to the flour mixture. Mix with one hand or a round bladed knife until you have a soft dough that just comes together.
Turn on to a lightly floured work top and pat out into a flat round about an inch thick. Stamp out rounds of about 3 inches in diameter (depending how big you like your scones). You should get about 20.
Put on greased baking shelf (I use one of those non-stick mats) and bake on top shelf for 10-12 minutes, until golden. Cool slightly on rack and eat fresh and warm.
There has also been progress on the knitting front, just in case you think I am spending my days
cooking (and eating) 'bakery goods'. The Tea Leaf cardigan is coming along - it's easy knitting and I am enjoying working with the lovely Dream in Color. Hatty (16) has even put in a request for a cardy. What she was describing sounded very like the Minimalist Cardigan from Interweave Knits magazine, so I showed her some of the pics of it on Ravelry and that is to be my next project.
Tea Leaves Cardigan - work in progress