Market Monday

Saturday’s farmers’ market was nice and cool. I wore a sun dress and even wished I’d brought a cardigan. Even though the temperatures have been summery, in comparison to the recent sweltering weather, it feels like fall is here.

My breakfast came from Devotay, the makers of auf laufs. It was a tortilla espanola made with potatoes and onions, topped with aioli (a tangy, garlic mayonnaise).

Since our city has a festival about every other weekend during the summer (for art, jazz, books, you name it), we decided to check out this week’s festival: Sand in the City.

The city brings in professionals to build a massive sand sculpture in the middle of the street.

Local businesses create their own sculptures as well. Can you name this classic children’s book?

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the Thneeds.”  -The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss


Humpty Dumpty

This week, I picked up tomatoes, potatoes, onions, zucchini, eggs, and a whole broiler chicken from our CSA. (I still haven’t dared to cook the stewing chicken I bought in May. I see a whole-chicken-cooking-adventure post in my future.)

We bought the beets from Grinnell Heritage Farm and the corn from an old hippie-looking man whose sign advertised “bodacious sweet corn.”

I’ve really been enjoying the red onions from our CSA this summer. They leave a delicious caramelization on the bottom of the new not-nonstick pans I got for Christmas. Now I finally know what Rachael Ray was talking about when she exhorted me to scrape all the goodness off the bottom of my pan when I added my vegetable stock.

I’m headed back to work this week. I definitely have one of those “ugh” feelings about how busy things are about to get, but I’m also excited about having some structure back in my schedule. I imagine I’ll find time for things I never got around to this summer thanks to that structure. I hope to cook some low-stress meals as I get back into the swing of things.

This week, we’ll eat:

  • Zucchini, onion, and kale omelets, potatoes
  • Burgers and corn on the grill, baked beans
  • Beet soup (I’m in the market for a recipe!), bread, veggie
  • Scalloped tomatoes with croutons, salad

Did you make it to a farmers’ market this week? What’s cooking in your kitchen?

Market Monday & 200th Post Giveaway Winner

heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market

I wanted to buy everything at the farmers’ market this week. We’re actually getting both sun and rain here in Iowa (finally!), which means that the more colorful vegetables of summer are finally ready to harvest.

I went to our CSA stand first thing on Saturday morning to get eggs. We’ve become pasture-raised egg snobs around here. First, we love buying the eggs directly from the man who raises the chickens so we know that they really are pasture-raised–we’re not just relying on a sticker on an egg carton at the store. Second, the yolks are brighter, the whites cook up more tender, and we pretty much devour the carton of eggs within a few days of purchase.

From our CSA, we also bought four tomatoes, three cucumbers, three eggplant, a pile of tomatoes, a red onion, a head of garlic, and fennel.

I bought another bottle of Lemon Basil Balsamic Vinegar from Pickle Creek Herbal. We’ve been following the simple (1:2 vinegar to oil ratio with a drizzle of honey) recipe for salad dressing Jocelyn gave us when I first met her and have exhausted our first bottle. She also recommended using it on caprese salad, which I think will be a good use for those four tomatoes. (Or three tomatoes. See how the top one looks a little funky? It looks really funky now.)

I also stopped at a stand to by goat cheese for a muffin recipe I wanted to try for Sunday morning breakfast. I’ll share that recipe with you soon so you can see if you want to start waking up to goat cheese.

We bought the cherry tomatoes and yellow squash from an organic stand that was very friendly and helpful to Dexter one morning as he was getting his stand set up. Dexter loves these cherry tomatoes and will enjoy having them in his lunch in place of the carrots I usually send.

For the sake of full disclosure, I should tell you that we also bought apple cider doughnuts and a savory tomato auf lauf at the farmers’ market. They were devoured much to quickly and ravenously to make it onto the camera.

Some of the cucumbers will probably make it into a salad, but we’ve been using them to add some pizzazz to our drinking water. I fill the pitcher in our fridge with water and add five slices of cucumber and half a lemon, sliced thinly or cut into wedges. (Wedges make it easier to squeeze the juice directly into the water, but I’ve found that slices flavor the water well enough if left to sit.) I usually refill the pitcher without replacing the cucumber and lemon slices once or twice so we can extract all the flavorful goodness from them before tossing them in the garbage disposal. Dexter doesn’t like plain water, but he was enamored with this water when I made it once last month and has been drinking it almost as enthusiastically as he drinks coffee.

I’m not a huge fan of eggplant, but I really want to like it. I plan to bake it (like in the first half of this recipe) and then serve the crispy slices on top of spaghetti. It’ll be my adapted version of eggplant parmesan. (My beef with real eggplant–or chicken–parmesan is that everything gets soggy, and I don’t want to go to the trouble of making something delicious and crispy if I’m just going to dump sauce all over it. Does anyone else feel this way? Am I the only one who has soggy-parm issues?)

The large pile of yellow squash will go into Sunny Summer Squash Soup, which I found on Once A Month Mom’s August Vegetarian Menu. The onion, some garlic, and two of the potatoes will go in the soup, and the rest were eaten, grilled in slices, with Monday night’s dinner.

What I’m left with, however, is a bulb of fennel. I didn’t have any plans for it. It was sort of an impulse purchase. (You know you’re kind of a kitchen dork when fennel is your impulse buy.) Any suggestions for my fennel?

Finally, before I hit the sack on this barely-got-it-posted-on-Market-Monday, I want to announce that Sarah is the winner of the Eating Animals giveaway. Your book will be in the mail as soon as I confirm your address.

Why I Care About Animal Welfare

For a long time, I’ve had a heart conviction to be vegetarian or at least to buy meat that didn’t come from a factory farm. I didn’t, however, have a lot of scripture to back up what I believed. In the past several months, many familiar passages of scripture have spoken to me about this topic. The first one I stumbled upon is below.

Psalm 8: 3-8

 3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
   the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
   and the son of man that you care for him?

 5Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
   and crowned him with glory and honor.
6You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
7all sheep and oxen,
   and also the beasts of the field,
8the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
   whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

David begins writing about the care with which God exercises dominion over humanity. He notes that God has given humans glory and honor even though He has made things as spectacular as the moon and stars. After we’re reminded of God’s goodness and abundant grace to us, we are reminded that we have dominion over his animal creations.

No, it’s not a direct command to buy pasture-raised chickens. However, Christians are called to be imitators of God and to live a life of love (Ephesians 5:1-2). I believe that our responsibility to live a life of love extends into loving and caring for all of God’s creation.

Explaining myself at The Vanderbilt Wife.

Photo Credit

Market Monday

On Saturday, Dexter worked the farmers’ market with our roommate Luke. I showed up halfway through and dutifully delivered the apple cider doughnuts. And let me tell you, delivering doughnuts to hot coffee stand on a drizzly Saturday morning is no punishment.

In two strolls around the market, we picked up everything we needed: a pound of rhubarb, a bag of spinach, a carton of eggs, and a stewing chicken, all from Salt Fork Farms.

We had resigned ourselves to not joining a CSA this summer. The couple we had split our CSA share with in the past decided not to join, and our old CSA had concocted a really inconvenient delivery plan. I also felt bad for wasting much of what we took home in our share each week. We were elated when we ran across Salt Fork Farms, which specializes in pasture-raised poultry and eggs as well as fresh produce. Since I am on the fence about continuing to be vegetarian, I was excited to see a local option that seems to raise chickens in the best possible way. We also loved the punch card based format of the CSA. Instead of getting a like-it-or-not box of veggies each week, we got punch cards that act like cash at the Salt Fork Farms farmers’ market stand. Each week at the farmers’ market, we buy whatever we want from our CSA and get a 10% discount off the market price. It’s the perfect arrangement for us because we can stock up on the things we love, and if we miss a week, we’re not giving up the food we paid for.

After perusing to my heart’s content, I camped out with Dexter at the coffee stand. I was intrigued by the stand next to ours which sold tiny herb plants, homemade soaps and lip balms, and herb-infused vinegar and olive oil. I had my eye on a bottle of balsamic vinegar for my new homemade salad dressing habit. The girl running the stand, Jocelyn, was so sweet and helpful. She coached me through choosing a basil plant for Dexter’s desk that would hopefully produce lots of usable leaves despite my black thumb. She also recommended a salad dressing recipe for my new vinegar: one part vinegar, two parts olive oil, a little bit of honey. It’s simple, but it was a hit with all three boys at the dinner table last night!

I got to chat with Jocelyn during the slow moments of the market, although her stand attracted crowds! She told me that she grows all the herbs and makes all the products herself. You can check out her company’s website, www.picklecreekherbal.com. I got to watch her stand for a few minutes and “play vendor” while she was gone. I talked up her product and even sold three items. I thought this shy girl did pretty well! (Like seriously, I talked to strangers in real life. On purpose.)

We haven’t potted the basil for Dexter’s desk yet, but I’ve been keeping a watchful eye on it.

My plans for this week’s market finds:

  • Rhubarb – I think rhubarb is turning into a bit of an obsession. Last week it was rhubarb crisp. This week it is rhubarb muffins and rhubarb upside down cake. Stay tuned tomorrow for a top ten list of delicious (or at least interesting) sounding list of rhubarb recipes.
  • Spinach – We may use this to supplement some store bought mixed greens for lettuce salad. However, it will more likely make its way into a few green smoothies. Dana has some great green smoothie recipes here.
  • Stewing hen – This will sit in my freezer until I have the guts to cook it. I plan to cook it with veggies to make broth and to cook the meat for use in other things. (Stewing hens–which are originally used for laying–are best eaten in something since the meat is a little tougher.) Then I’ll use the bones and more veggies for another batch of stock.
  • Eggs from pastured hens – Oh heavens. These are delicious. I’ve had them poached and fried. Dexter has had them scrambled. We’ve eaten them with toast or with veggie hash. They’re full of flavor, healthier than standard eggs, and I don’t have to block out what I know about chicken farming while I eat them!

To share what you found at the market, in your CSA box, or in the seasonal section of the grocery store:

  • Tell us what you found in the comments.
  • OR write a post (link back to me!) and post your link in the comments.
  • Feel free to snatch my button with the following code: <a title=”marketmonday by kjacobs729, on Flickr” href=”http://mrsdexter.wordpress.com/category/market-monday/”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5308/5748976749_a03567b98d_m.jpg” alt=”marketmonday” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></a>

Spring Break on a Budget

For a few short days in December, Dexter and I entertained the idea of visiting New York City over Spring Break. It’s on both of our 30 Before 30 lists (although I’ve been there before), and we were both a little anxious for adventure. (Sometimes I feel like since I don’t have kids–and not because I don’t like them–I am entitled to have adventures. It’s not a healthy mindset.)

I had it all planned out. We were going to stay in this swanky vintage style hotel. We were going to indulge in dessert (and maybe dinner) at this Smitten-Kitchen-mentioned* restaurant. We were going to walk, wide-eyed, around this museum.

But, alas.

Remember my post about making money decisions? Well, reluctantly, I took my own advice and looked at the price of a trip (and let me tell you, I researched some bargains!) in another light. I calculated how much extra interest we’d pay in the long run because of the money we’d spend on our trip. Then, I figured out that by spending Spring Break in New York, we’d be keeping ourselves in debt for an extra 6 months.

Yuck.

We remembered the verse in Proverbs that says, “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and he adds no sorrow to it.” And we were pretty sure we’d be sorry during the fall of 2014 as we were sending our checks to the student loan company rather than transferring money into savings. So, we decided not to go.

We realized, however, that we do need to get away. We need a weekend without dirty dishes, without picking up dog poop, and without phone calls from work. So, we followed the example my parents set and planned an “urban midwest getaway.” This summer, you might remember, we spent a weekend in Kansas City. Chicago also makes itself into our weekend getaway rotation. (For some reason, we ignore Omaha.)

So, in less than two weeks, we’ll be gazing at the Minneapolis skyline. And we’re pretty excited.

Like New York, the Twin Cities have hotels, restaurants, and museums. And they’ll be noticeably more budget-friendly than their NYC counterparts. This trip will keep us in debt less than a month longer than we would have been. Which, I think, is an excellent trade-off when you consider that our options are a) go on this trip or b) go crazy.

Here’s the thing: We don’t really know the Twin Cities area very well, so we need your tourism advice.

What would you do on a weekend away in Minneapolis?

(Can’t decide what advice to share? Consider the following. We’re not on a super tight budget–although concert tickets at $100 a pop aren’t going to happen. We like food–especially local, organic, and humane. We like coffee–especially fresh, small-batch roasted coffee. We like shopping. We like museums of all sorts. And Dexter is kind of a hipster–you know, the good kind, with hipster taste and none of the attitude.)

*Click that link. Make that gingerbread. Flour your pans well. You won’t regret it.

Photo Credit 1 & Photo Credit 2

At-Home Coffee Shop Series: Gourmet Hot Chocolate

Please welcome my friend Ambre! She’s a wife, stay-at-home mom, and lover of Christ who blogs about her passion for nutrition and clean living at Living As Of The Day. I was thrilled when she agreed to guest post because she has a reputation for taking hot chocolate seriously. I’ve tasted her hot chocolate handiwork and am eager to try my hand at the recipe.

*   *   *   *   *

I have grown up surrounded by coffee. My single Mom volunteered at a church sponsored coffee shop on weekends while I slept on a mat on the back room floor. My Grandparents have had non-stop pots going my entire life.

I love the way it smells- so warming and comforting.

It’s taste on the other hand leaves MUCH to be desired. I hate it. It’s gross and makes my whole face contort unattractively if I’m forced to taste it “Just try it, Ambre! You can’t even taste it in this mocha!” Lies. I am like the Princess and the Pea: it doesn’t matter how many layers of other flavors you try to disguise it under, I. will. detect. it.

I love hot chocolate.

Really love it.

For the sake of making sure we’re all on the same page (listen up, Mom!), let me clarify what I mean when I say “hot chocolate”. I am in no way talking about anything that at any point resembled a powder. Ever. That would be cocoa. Cocoa lacks the butterfat necessary to even attempt to go toe to toe in a taste match with hot chocolate. Are we all together now? Fantastic!

I use to try hot chocolates at any coffee shop I came upon. This resulted in a fairly well developed palate (if I do say so myself!). If you’re a coffee drinker, then I know you are familiar with the difference between a gas station cup of joe and a fair trade mug of exquisite flavor and depth. The same differences occur in the land of hot chocolate. There are the afore mentioned powder packets one mixes with hot water and drinks because you are a kid and don’t know any better and then there’s the liquid chocolate spun into rich milk with a dash of chili powder and cinnamon topped with a swirl of whipped cream to be consumed with a deep sigh of contentment. *sigh* Um, I’ll be right back!

Eggnog Hot Chocolate

Okay, (cup in hand) where were we? Oh, yes: “sighs of contentment”.

So how do we go about creating these flavors and textures in our own kitchen when the fancy strikes? Is it even possible? Absolutely. Let’s step into the kitchen and I’ll show you how I go about it and try to give you a spring board for creating the perfect cup for your tastes.

Let’s start with the chocolate. Your finished product will never taste better than the sum of your ingredients. For this recipe, we are looking for stellar chocolate chips. By “stellar”, I am not talking about a chocolate from “that town” in Pennsylvania. Nope. That wouldn’t do at all! Buy the highest quality chocolate you can afford that didn’t cause the shed of blood and tears (I use Guittard). The second ingredient you will need is whole milk. I will repeat myself once: WHOLE MILK! If you choose to use a more watery version of milk I wash my hands of any responsibility and by all means, don’t tell anyone you got the recipe from me!

Found them both? Okay, then! Let’s go!

A Most Excellent Pot Of Hot Chocolate

½ cup chocolate chips (I use 60% cocoa)

1 Quart Whole Milk

1) Melt chocolate in pan until smooth over low heat stirring constantly. If you have a thin pan, use a super low heat, if you have a nice and thick/heavy pan, you can use a heat closer to medium. The goal is to NOT BURN the chocolate. I believe in you! If your chocolate seems to be balling up instead of melting add a 1/4 inch of your milk and stir til smooth.

Melt the chips

Melt The Chips

2) Add a 1/4 inch of milk, if you haven’t already, and stir until smooth. This will take a moment as the cold milk will attempt to harden your chocolate again so you’re job is to get everybody on the same page aka to the same temperature.

Stir, Stir, Stir!

3) Add the rest of your milk and heat til hot (if you like to take temperatures in your kitchen approximately 105-110 degrees is what I shoot for) over medium heat. Basically, if you can comfortably hold your finger in the milk, it’s not hot enough. This is an important moment in the process. You will be tempted to walk away only for a moment to take care of something: DON’T !!!

My hot chocolate mantra is as follows:

“A watched pot never boils, but an unwatched pot Always Boils Over!”

Take my word for it and see it through to the end!

Hot And Ready To Serve!

4) Pour your mugs and enjoy!

Here are some ideas of things to add to the finished product to really take it to the next level:

  • Peppermint oil- Make Peppermint Hot Chocolate to rival any coffee shops!
  • Eggnog- My three year old suggested this and it’s amazing!
  • Cinnamon and Chili- Mexican Hot Chocolate at it’s finest!
  • White Chocolate Chips- go half and half with your chocolate chips and enjoy!
  • Creme de Menthe- if you’re of age and looking for something  hot and spiked look no further!
  • Salt- I kid you not. Give it a try! It’s yumma!

Let me know how you like it!  What do/did you do to give your hot chocolate a little extra kick?

The Compassionate Carnivore

Whenever I have discussed my musings on meat-eating versus vegetarianism, my friend Sarah has recommended the book The Compassionate Carnivore by Catherine Friend. When I started craving meat in the fall, I decided to pick it up to aid in my diet decision.

Friend has experience as a shepherd on a small farm, but don’t be deceived. She’s no simple farmer. Her book is full of research translated into words the layman can understand. She chronicles her journey from a consumer, happy in ignorance, eating conventional, factory-raised meat that comes from styrofoam dishes at the grocery store to a shepherd who sits in her truck crying after she drops her sheep off at the slaughterhouse.

When I began reading the book, I thought I would surely never eat meat again. I realized that it really is as sad as I imagine to kill an animal for meat–even when it’s done humanely. I didn’t know what to make of Friend’s credibility when she admitted that she still does eat conventionally raised meat from time to time. However, those ideas were the least powerful that I took away from the book.

Toward the beginning of the book, Friend tells about the difficult, harrowing experience of moving hens from their pen into crates in which they’ll be transported to the slaughterhouse. I was irate that someone who claims to be working for animal rights would cause such stress to these innocent creatures. Later, she made the point that she cannot guarantee a pain-free life for any animal. I realized that neither can I.

Just as it is impossible to make everything in your own life ideal, it is impossible to make an animal’s life perfect when you are caring for it. My dogs don’t have a yard to run in, and Fitz is so naughty when he’s outside that he doesn’t get taken on walks very often. We leave our dogs at home during the work day. Sometimes Dexter stops at home midday to give them a potty break, but they’ve been left for up to eleven hours. We take them to the vet where they get shots. We clean their ears (a form of puppy torture), and we fail to clean their ears (which results in a bacterial infection, another form of puppy torture). We clip their toenails. We forbid them from eating onions and raisins that fall on the floor in the kitchen. They are not always happy. So can I really expect a farmer who tries his best to raise animals humanely to meet my impossible standard of perfection?

The answer, simply, is no. If I choose to purchase and eat meat from a farm where animals are treated with respect and where the farmer works hard and takes risks to protect the animal and the environment, I need to expect that the animal’s life will not have been perfect. However, I can still be thankful for how much better the animal’s life was than if it had been fed on a factory farm.

Another important point Friend makes is that if everyone who was concerned for the welfare of animals became a vegetarian, there would be no one to support the small, organic, humane farmers. Although the number of vegetarians in the past 30 years has skyrocketed, the amount of meat eaten in the U.S. has also risen. By stepping away from the humanely-raised meat discussion, vegetarians are not necessarily making as big an impact on the meat industry as we’d like to be. But, don’t despair. One statistic Friend shared really encouraged me. If about half the Des Moines Metro Area ate one meal a week with meat from small, sustainable farms, “that shift in revenue would pay the average annual income of 3,000 farm families.” (250) There’s not much standing between us and a profound change in the meat industry.

Although I’m not ready to abandon my vegetarian lifestyle in one fell swoop, right now, I am imagining a flexitarian future with a bit of meat thrown in here or there. Oddly enough, I haven’t actually craved meat in a long time. Maybe it’s the Tofurkey slices I’ve been eating on my sandwiches. I even tried a little bit of a dish that was about 1/3 meat this weekend and thought, “Wow, that’s a mouthful of meat. I wish it had more veggies.” In the next few weeks, I hope to read Eating Animals to get what I expect will be a very different viewpoint.

Saturday Stumbles: Current Events, Stress, and Health Tips

I’ve been building up a mental lists of posts I’ve loved for the past month or so, and I thought I’d finally participate in my first Saturday Stumbles to share them with you. Enjoy!

These two posts are from Elise, a long-time friend who is cool in lots of ways I wish I was.

Weekend Reading – Addresses current events that are making headlines as well as human trafficking, always an issue but something I think about a lot.

Releasing Stress’ Hold on Me – Tips about stress relief from her personal experience.

Stephanie at Keeper of the Home has three related articles about stress and depression that I learned a lot from. Although I don’t have depression, I am prone to anxiety and depression, so “be prepared” is my motto.

My Journey to Burnout

Treating Depression Naturally: Supplements, Herbs, and Foods for Feeling Better

Naturally Neutralizing Stress: Herbs that Calm

Sarah at Loved Like the Church, who also recently guest posted here!

Half Marathon Training Guide: It might seem ambitious for the girl who hasn’t completed 5K training to want to do this, but a girl’s gotta dream.

At-Home Coffee Shop Series: Pumpkin Scones

I’m not a Starbucks person. Yes, I like coffee shops, but when given a choice, I’ll usually choose a local place over a big chain. (To me, comparing a local coffee shop to a Starbucks is akin to comparing Shorts to McDonalds. Okay. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little.) Starbucks isn’t all bad, however. They have a pretty awesome corporate responsibility policy (which, by the way, your local coffee shop would love to have but they don’t have the funds…so you should go support them) and they have recently cut trans-fats and high-fructose corn-syrup out of their pastries.

One day, Dexter and I were out shopping, and…it’s embarrasing to admit…we stopped at Starbucks for a latte. I promise, we were far from a (good) local cafe and there was a caffeine-muffled-by-hot-milk emergency. As we were standing in line, we both spotted the pumkin scones. They were frosted.

Frosted.

Being the good wife that I am, I looked at Dexter and asked, “Wanna get one?” He did. I wasn’t expecting much–a dry, cookie-like pumpkin brick with some too-sweet frosting that would just make me want to wash out my mouth with our latte when it was still too hot to drink. However, I took a bite and fell in love. It was moist and sweet and…pumpkiny. There was even some detectable nutmeg flavor!

Now, I’ll admit that we were already having a really good morning. Dexter wasn’t on-call at work, we were taking it slow, going shopping, and getting along really well. Dexter was telling me how cute I looked in my winter hat and being all hand-holdy. So, some of my scone-love might be due to general happiness.

When we got home, I searched online and found a person who claimed to have the exact recipes for Starbucks pumpkin scones. So I had to make them. And I left out the sugar and had to mix it in last. But they were still good. And then I made them again. And they were still good. And now you can make them, too.

If you want to eat these with French press coffee, I can confirm that that’s an awesome idea.

A note about the recipe: If you want the glaze to harden like it does at Starbucks, you should do exactly what the recipe says. I got all snobby and eyeballed the powdered sugar and milk and stirred it with a fork and then I was mad it wasn’t the same.

Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Scones

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1 large egg
6 tablespoons cold butter

Plain Glaze
1 cup plus 1 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk

Spiced Icing
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground cloves

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger in a large bowl.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half-and-half, and eggs.
4. Cut butter into cubes then add it to the dry ingredients. Use a pastry knife or a fork to combine butter with dry ingredients. Continue mixing until no chunks of butter are visible. You can also use a food processor: Pulse butter into dry ingredients until it is the texture of cornmeal or coarse sand.
5. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then form the dough into a ball. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1 -inch thick rectangle that is about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide. Use a large knife or a pizza wheel to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough.
6. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes on a baking sheet that has been lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper. Scones should begin to turn light brown.
7. While scones cool, prepare plain glaze by combining ingredients in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Mx until smooth.
8 When scones are cool, use a brush to paint a coating of the glaze over the top of each scone.
9. As that white glaze firms up, prepare spiced icing by combining ingredients in another medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.Makes 6 scones.

Check out the rest of the At-Home Coffee Shop Series here!

Chickpea and Carrot Salad

Although some of the recipes I try out exceed his weirdness-tolerance-level, Dexter is much more supportive of my vegetarian lifestyle than many husbands would be. When he lived with his brother, a vegetarian, his first year of college, he rarely ate meat, although he didn’t avoid it altogether. He was even a “flexible vegetarian” with me for about two years. Once we found sources of grass-fed beef and non-confined pork and had the income to buy them, however, he confessed that his convictions weren’t strict enough to rule out delicious, humanely-raised meat from his diet. So, I started cooking him a meal with meat in it once every week or two. Burgers were a great way to accommodate both our preferences.

This fall, I started to look into vegan recipes–not because I was thinking of becoming vegan, but because cruelty-free dairy products and meat are so expensive. For instance, the cheapest cheese option I can find from humanely-raised cows is $6.50/lb. I wanted to find ways to use expensive products like butter and cheese less often so I could afford to have them at all.

One of the books I checked out from the library was Nava Atlas’s Vegan Express. As the title suggests, her meals were designed to be made quickly and easily. I was wary when I served her Chickpea and Carrot Salad with Parsley and Olives to Dexter. He’s not a big fan of chickpeas, especially when they play a prominent role in a dish. However, I won him over by throwing in a special treat–kalamata olives. Now, whenever I mention adding this recipe to the weekly meal plan, I’m met with an, “Ooh, that sounds good,” instead of a one of those that-sounds-weird-but-i-love-you responses. “Interesting…”

This recipe won me over because it can be made cheaply and quickly, and it is a great source of both fiber and protein. Here it is, adapted slightly from Vegan Express.

Chickpea and Carrot Salad

  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup packed grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley (optional)
  • 2-3 scallions, white and green parts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives (Atlas suggests green pimiento-stuffed olives)
  • juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and (freshly ground) pepper to taste

Instructions: Combine all ingredients. Toss. Serve.

Need some references for this recipe? Dexter sacrificed the very last portion of leftovers he’d taken in his lunch so my sister could try it.

Her response: “IT WAS DELICIOUS.” (It was in a text, so I know she meant caps. I wasn’t just interpreting her words that way.)

Dexter, after telling me about giving his portion away: “You need to make some more. Now.”