My parents are coming into town for the first time in three years. The last time they were here, I was in law school, living in a studio with no lamps or tables. I was living someone else's dream, someone else's reality, too. They stayed for four days and we drove up and down the coast, my mom took a nap and we didn't talk much. I'm not sure what happened in those four days, but they left me at the airport and didn't call for a month.
That was three years ago, when I was steeped in my indecisiveness and anger at my life in California. When there was no TV to drown out the voices of regret in my head. And if the couch was uncomfortable, I'd move to the bed, and if the bed was uncomfortable, I'd move to the bath. I smoked a lot back then, I think it was just a way to burn off the words that hung on my tongue that I was constantly biting. I think I was trying to smoke out any thoughts of leaving again, to keep those buzzing regrets at bay by making them fall asleep, like those men who forage for honey that you see on documentaries.
Now, it's all different. I'm different. I bought a candle and thought about how this will register to my mother as a totem of domesticity. How a sewing kit looks like I have everything together. I keep making jokes of what my parents will say when they see bookshelves with books, a stocked fridge, the three dogs that lay at our feet. How different this is than the year I spent in a studio apartment outside of Camp Pendleton.
I feel it all bubbling up, though, all the emotions I feel when I have to say goodbye. It's a distinct flavor of rage, a desperate wanting that is between the atoms of my marrow and my bloodshot eyes. It will come in passages throughout the week, bursting at the ill-made seams when we take the car to the airport and I walk with them to the security line. I always hold my mother's hand, I don't want to wander too far off. I think 3,000 miles may have been too far.
My parents visiting is a sort of anachronism, they don't seem to fit into my life when they visit. It's awkward, but endearing at the same time. It's uncomfortable, too. The multiplicity of all my past lives reflect in their eyes, in their stories that somehow seem like fables to me. Was I the boy missed school when a fox got in the chicken pen? Was I the boy that ran away for a summer to Baltimore and returned with a pierced ear? Was I the boy who would chew his mom's hair to fall asleep until he was three? They don't seem like me anymore, but maybe that's because my parents have become the anchors of all my past selves, all my tantrums, all of my mistakes, all of my triumphs line their face in worry-wrinkles and laugh lines. Maybe that's what I'm scared of when I leave them at the security gate, not only losing them, but losing all the pieces of this broken and repetitive pattern that were the sums of my adolescence.
And today, I bake in preparation for their arrival. They'll be driving to Baltimore at three in the morning, and getting here early enough for breakfast. I'll have these scones waiting for them, scones that are made from hand, with homemade butter and homemade jam. Homemade, a word that describes my very character when I think about how homespun my roots lie when I'll hug my parents goodbye.
With homemade jam, butter, and buttermilk. Makes 8 scones.
Before I begin, I want to point out two (technically three) of the ingredients were made wholly from scratch and they contributed to the flavor and crumb of these scones. Firstly, as you can see from my last post, I did a collaboration with Dulcet Creative. Go over to their blog to see how to make the jam that became more of a sweetener than a flavor for these scones.
Secondly, if you are like me and never took a third grade science class, then you have probably never made butter yourself. I had some extra cream and decided to give it a try. I put two cups of cream into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high until the stiff peaks of whipped cream separated into solid and liquid fats. The liquid (the buttermilk also used in this recipe) were reserved, while the fats were pressed and washed with ice water a couple times. I added a pinch of salt and stored in an airtight container until I was ready to use.
Of course, you don't have to do these steps, but I cannot promise how tender the crumb or how sweet the scone will be without them. They're fun and rewarding projects, so give 'em a shot either way!
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoon shortening, cold
- 4 tablespoon butter, cold (see note above)
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, cold (see note above)
- 1/3 cup jam, warmed to be a little runny (see note above)
- 2 tablespoon cream
- 1 tablespoon turbino sugar
- Preheat oven to 450*F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Sift flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Repeat.
- In the bowl of a food processor, dump dry ingredients and add butter and shortening
- Pulse 4-6 times until fats are incorporated and pea-sized
- In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and jam by hand to incorporate one another
- With the motor running, pour wet ingredients into feeding tube. A dough should begin to form.
- Dump dough out onto a floured surface and, with floured hands (dough will be sticky), pat into a circle that is about 8 inches wide and 3/4 inch high.
- Cut into 8 segments. Separate and space evenly on parchment paper.
- With fingertips or a pastry brush, lightly coat scones with cream and sprinkle sugar on top.
- Bake for 13-16 minutes or until cracked and barley golden on top
- Enjoy with more homemade butter or jam. Store in airtight container for up to 4 days.