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Archive for December 2016

The Difference Between Scones and Biscuits

Dec
30

I love biscuits. Seriously. I love Southern-style biscuits made with butter and soft self-rising flour. I love Northern-style biscuits, the type of biscuits my mother with her English roots taught me to make when I was 9 years old. And I love scones, which are not biscuits, though they are often confused as an English-style biscuit. And I suppose you could get away with saying that, but really, they aren’t biscuits!

From the time I was a child, I was fascinated, nigh upon obsessed, with all things English, from medieval castles to kings to, yes, scones. The magical scones of all the English literature I inhaled through my teenage years and into my college degree in medieval British literature. Tea and scones. Try to find a figure in English literature that isn’t at some point sitting down to tea and scones. With jam. And clotted cream!!!! I was so obsessed with consuming this delightful treat myself that it was an absolute must when I visited England ten years ago. I was not leaving without sitting down to some genuine English tea and scones, not to mention the clotted cream.
scones
Here is the plate of tea and scones and jam and clotted cream I sat down to one day at a tea shop in the village of Cerne Abbas in Dorset.
cerneabbas
What are scones? In America, we tend to think they’re biscuits. They look similar to biscuits, but they are NOT biscuits, especially not Southern Biscuits made with soft southern flour and heavy on the butter for the flaky texture. They’re closer to Northern Biscuits, made from hard northern flour with less butter and a more crumbly texture, due to the similarity in the type of wheat used in both scones and Northern Biscuits. But in the case of scones, while they also contain less butter than Southern Biscuits, they’re still rich, that richness coming out of the egg in the batter, setting them apart from any traditional American biscuit at all.
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The scones I make are just like the scones from the village in Cerne Abbas–rich, crumbly but soft, made with a hard northern flour, butter, baking powder, sugar, salt, milk, and egg. You can get ’em without going to Cerne Abbas–though I can’t help you with the clotted cream, sorry! (I have a cow, so I have clotted cream, heh.) Traditionally, they are most commonly made plain or with currants. Currants are not raisins, by the way, anymore than scones are biscuits! True currants are black currants, not the Zante currants commonly sold as currants. (Check the label!)

Here’s how I make ’em.
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How to make English-Style Scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour (not a Southern brand)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
milk

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat egg, add to dry ingredients, gradually add milk until dough clings together, wet but not soppy! Roll out on a floured surface. Cut in triangles. Bake on a greased baking sheet at 450-degrees until browned, about 10 minutes. Call the cow for some clotted cream!

Ha.

You can also get ’em in my Etsy shop! I sell them plain, or with traditional currants, as well as in about two dozen out-of-the-box varieties from beer cheddar to pineapple coconut! Get ’em on Etsy here.

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I Dream of Pepperoni Rolls

Dec
23

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When I posted A Hand-Crafter’s View of Etsy a week ago (December 15), I’d had 160 sales in my Etsy shop. A week later, I’ve had 226 sales. Do the math, you know what I’ve been doing! All of those sales weren’t pepperoni rolls, but probably half of them were. I’ve never made so many pepperoni rolls in my life. I was determined to get everyone’s packages delivered by Christmas Eve. The post office’s last day to deliver priority mail to 3-day zones by Christmas Eve was Wednesday. From December 1 to Christmas, the post office runs two trucks. (Normally, there is just one truck per day.) I was worried about being on second truck on Wednesday. I was determined to be on first truck. I came home from the post office on Tuesday, took a short break to do farm chores, then started working, preparing boxes and labels, and by the middle of the night, I was baking. I baked all night long and into the morning, and was at the post office early on Wednesday to make first truck.

The kids were standing there when I put the last batch of pepperoni rolls in the oven. I told them, “The next batch of pepperoni rolls I make, you can eat them.” Morgan said, “THE HELL IS OVER.” Imagine how difficult it was for my kids to watch dozens of dozens of pepperoni rolls pass before their eyes and not be allowed to touch them!

I came home from the post office, made pepperoni rolls for the kids, fixed chili in a crock pot, and went to bed! For 14 hours!

But hey, it was fun. Even the all-nighter. I hope all those packages make it by Christmas Eve. I know I did everything humanly possible to make it happen. Today I took pepperoni rolls to the post office in Elkview, WV, and gave them to the employees. Apparently, I’m not tired of making pepperoni rolls, and I wanted to thank them for all their hard work and all the help they’ve given me in chatting with me every day when I’ve toted in my eight or ten or twelve boxes for the day, helping me understand shipping and packaging and how the post office works better–so that I can do better at getting packages delivered on time and at the best rate.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are coming up! I’m taking this weekend off, but I’m taking orders even while I’m off (I’ll be back to work Monday morning, baking and shipping), and I can ship all the way to Wednesday, December 28, for 3-day zones. If you’ve got family coming in or you’re having a party, don’t you need some pepperoni rolls? Or fudge, or…. I’ve got about 90 other things for sale!

Visit my Etsy shop here, and you can find my pepperoni rolls here. My Authentic West Virginia Pepperoni Rolls are made with hand stick-cut pepperoni, mozzarella, and banana peppers if you like! You can choose banana peppers, or NO banana peppers–and, NEW, you can also choose hot or mild banana peppers. (I’ve made them up to now with mild peppers only, but I’m going to offer them with hot banana peppers now, for those who like it spicy, or mild if you don’t, and NO peppers if you just don’t want ’em.) You can also choose to have them made as 12 large rolls OR 24 party-size rolls. If you want them by New Year’s Eve or Day, get your order in early! Last day to ship to 3-day zones for New Year’s Eve/Day delivery is Wednesday, December 28. Last day to ship for 2-day zones is next Thursday, December 29, and last day to ship for 1-day zones (West Virginia only–except Morgantown, which is a 2-day zone) is Friday, December 30.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....



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