October 19, 2010

Road Trip, Part 1

Sunday was our first road trip. More than 30 of us jumped on an American Stage Bus and road in pure luxury to Auburn, CA.  We took this mini adventure because one of my customers, a lovely lady by the name of Michele Abrate suggested it to me.  She is not only a world traveler but she arranges trips for ladies everywhere through her company Armstrong & Hedges. I must say I am just amazed at how I just said this is what I want and I think I want to go to these places and she made that happen and more.

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Our first stop was of course the Fall Street Fair.  This is a bi-annual event for downtown in Auburn. Once in the spring and again in the fall. About 200 booths of little knickknack antiques.  There weren’t many in dealers of large pieces, but tons of fun little stuff and so many great stores. There is a store called Mercantile that is really nice and probably the most like Daisy’s of any store in downtown.  Funny how so many of the group had bags from that store.  I purchased a new cabinet for perfume, lots of glass knickknacks and a bunch of old player piano music rolls.  The last shop I stumbled into was an antique store that specialized in books. Amazing books. Rare books, so  many books. I don’t know if I ever told you I am obsessed with books.  Thank goodness this place was really close to the bus because not only was my stash heavy but boy oh boy I could stay to the last minute. I bought a book that will be just right for my lollia display about butterflies.  Found a Longfellow  book for my son that he will pop a cork over for Christmas and a couple others. Then I found “the” book, the one that will always take me back to the fun of this day as I see it perched on the shelf. It is called “What Can a Woman Do”. It speaks of careers in literature, law, medicine and music among others. Quite amazing for its time, it was printed in 1885.  It is letterpress and pictures are on seperate pages that are another type of printing with a different type of paper.  There was a special present for me when I opened it.  It was the sign to me that I was meant to own this book. A small strip of ribbon but not plain ribbon a bookmark that was printed with raised ink and felt like the fanciest dress as I am sure it is silk ribbon. Take a look…

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I keep looking in the book to make sure it is still in there.  I am going to have to think a while to decide what type of framing is suitable for my most precious item. The store, in case you were wondering is called Sisters.  They are located at, 351 Commercial Street in Auburn.  Suzy Tessier is the proprietor. She has no website but you can at least see the front of the building by “clicking here”.

Before we left on the bus I made scones and muffins for a treat on the ride up.  I promised Jeannie I would give everyone the recipe so here it is.  My family was really happy last night as I had to make a batch so I could make sure the scaled down recipe worked.  I only normally make it in a big batch. 

Orange Pecan Scones

Mix together the following dry ingredients in a big mixing bowl. I just put them in a bowl and whisk them together, no need to sift unless you really want to.

4 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of Kosher Salt

Now you are going to add the butter using your clean hands or a pastry tool.  You want the butter cool, it will make a much nicer scone.  You are working to get pea size pieces of pastry dough, much like you would if you were making a pastry crust. 

1/2# butter, unsalted butter, cut into cubes about 1/2″ square.

Now toss in 1 and 1/4 cups chopped pecans. I use the already roasted ones at Trader Joe’s. If you are getting raw ones go ahead and slightly toast them (and let them cool) before you mix them. 

Finally put in the zest of 1 orange.  Use a fine zester.  You can skip this if you want but I really like that zing.

Now to the wet ingredients:

1 cup and 1 tablespoon of Orange Juice, I use fresh but I don’t worry about squeezing it myself unless I happen to have the oranges around

Add 2 large eggs (use extra large if that is what you have it really won’t change much) to the OJ and whisk.

Now comes the big and hopefully quick finish. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix them together thoroughly but quickly as possible.  You want to handle the dough as little as possible. Part of he secret to their tenderness is not overworking it.

The oven needs to be at 350 degrees.  I scoop them with a 1/2 cup size ice cream scoop and it will yield about 12 scones.  The best part is you can make the scones any size and just adjust the cooking time. It will take about 15-20 minutes to cook.  They will become nice and brown and will bounce back when you tap the top.  It is a very forgiving recipe so go for it.

There is an icing on these that makes that just makes them even better.

Use about 2 cups of powdered sugar and about 4-5 tablespoons of orange juice.  Mix with a fork and drizzle over the scones when they first come out of the oven.

A couple of cooking tips that will apply to this recipe.

Orange Juice is an interesting cooking liquid. It is acidic as you well know and that will play into how your batter feels.  Don’t worry they will turn out but if it seems way to dry and/or wet understand you didn’t mess up the measuring, the acidity can change it.  This is especially true when making the icing so add carefully and just decide if it looks like yummy icing consistency and then quit.

Flour is not just flour as many of you who bake well know. Pick a type of flour you like and stick with it.  As you bake more you will know how your brand reacts to recipes.  I am one of those crazy people who gets flour from the east coast because King Arthur is what I grew up baking with and I am sticking with it. I definitely like unbleached all-purpose over the rest.  Just remember happy baking memories require quality ingredients.

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