I’ve been a moving target the last two years, running, trying to dodge the reality of learning to live without Michael. I lost much more than just my husband when he died. With one felt swoop, fate came in like a thief and also stole my sense of security. I’m afraid to trust in being happy again. Terrified at settling myself somewhere emotionally, and plant roots, for fear they will be ripped up again with no warning.
I’m tired of being on the lam, though. That’s why I bought the house upstate. This doesn’t mean I’m staying in NYC for the long term, but it is a huge step in taking chances again. No matter where I go in the future, I will always have a little house tucked away in the country to call home. That’s if the fleas ever leave.
Yes, the biting little bastards are back, and they swarmed around my ankles and legs the moment I stepped inside the house yesterday. The plan was to spend a relaxing two days there, and finish setting up the house before we travel onward to Cape Cod for our annual vacation. If the neighbors were watching, I left a lasting impression, no doubt. I did one last body check before getting back in the car to head home, to make sure there were no fleas clinging to me like De Niro under the car in Cape Fear. I saw one jump off my dress, and did what any irrational, and emotionally worn down person would do.
I looked to my left, then to my right, felt confident enough that no one was watching, and took my dress off to shake it out. There I was in my new backyard, in my bra and panties, screaming a whole lot of cuss words in a thick Brooklyn accent. The neighbors will either steer clear of me in the future, or I’ll have a lot of volunteers to help around the house when I get back. The kids were in the car playing, and were none the wiser to their mother’s momentary breakdown.
Looking back on yesterday, I can now laugh and find the silver lining. I’m grateful I had my apartment to go back to in Brooklyn. Benny, my exterminator, went to the house first thing this morning. I hope it does the trick. I won’t find out for two weeks, until we get back from vacation.
Yes, we’re hitting the road again. This time we’re not running. We’re going home in a sense, going back to North Truro. Last year I brought his ashes with me; I couldn’t imagine leaving him behind. Right now, I’ve decided to leave them home this year. It’s such a delicate balance, trying to keep him alive in my heart without the memories becoming a leash, holding me back from moving forward.
As I started thinking about how to handle this balance, it reminded me of my approach in the kitchen when baking. Many times I find myself adapting my own recipes. I keep a few basic elements to use as building blocks, a foundation from which I can create something new. That’s how these lemon blueberry scones came to be last week. I was visiting a friend, and woke up one morning in a baking mood. I flipped through my cookbook, to use one of the scone recipes for reference. Then I thought about the lovely blueberry bushes in his front yard, and Virginia and I went to work picking berries. There was a lemon the size of a boulder that I’d packed before leaving Todd and Diane’s, so in went some fresh grated lemon zest. I decided to finish them with a sweet, sticky lemon blueberry glaze, too.
Much as I feel like I lost everything two years ago, there’s still a strong foundation under all the emotional rubble. I just need to be as fearless in life as I am in the kitchen.
Music Pairing: Euro-trash Girl by Cracker
Before you dive into the recipe, I wanted to give some background on the music pairing. On the surface, it’ll leave you scratching your head, wondering what it has to do with scones. For me this song has particular significance. Just three months after we started dating, Mikey took me to North Truro, MA. Back then, we’d hunker down in his little red Toyota Celica, and drive 300 miles straight, with the exception of one or two lightening fast restroom breaks. Every summer he’d bring along an old cardboard cassette box filled with tapes of his favorite albums. It was on that first road trip that I heard Cracker, and their album Kerosene Hat.
The album seems to end with Loser on track 12. Then silence ensues as you watch the tracks go silent for three seconds each, all the way up to track 69—boom, Euro-Trash Girl comes on. I was listening to Kerosene Hat while driving home from my aborted attempt to relax upstate. I could’ve easily fast-forwarded to track 69, but instead I drove, and waited patiently. It remind me that the anticipation of what’s to come is as enjoyable as the destination. I’m not always good at feeling comfortable with the in-between moments of my life, but perhaps I should just sit back and enjoy the ride, while waiting for those hidden tracks to make themselves evident.
If you’re still reading, then a few notes about the actual recipe. 1) The blueberries I picked were wild blueberries, very small in size, and packed with a concentrated blueberry flavor. I recommend searching out a similar variety, as larger blueberries might overwhelm these scones. 2) You’ll notice a glaze in the photo. I didn’t write the actual recipe down, but it goes something like this—add 1/4 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons of water to a small pot. Bring to a boil, then stir in 1/4 cup blueberries. Mash the berries down with a fork until they release their juices. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until it becomes a thick syrup, about 10 minutes. Drizzle the glaze over the warm scones. Let the scones sit for 10 minutes, so the glaze can set, before serving them.
1/2 cup (125 ml) plus 1 tablespoon (15 ml) buttermilk
1 large (50 grams) egg
1 cup (138 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup (140 grams) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the counter
1/4 cup (50 grams) natural cane sugar
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) fine sea salt
Freshly grated zest of 1 large lemon
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) very cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
1 teaspoon (6 grams) coarse natural cane sugar, optional
3/4 cup fresh blueberries, preferably wild ones
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Using a fork, lightly beat the 1/2 cup of buttermilk and egg together in a small bowl; set aside.
Add the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest to a deep medium-sized bowl. Whisk to combine. Scatter the butter on top of the dry ingredients and rub together quickly with your fingers, until it forms a sandy-looking texture with some pebble-sized pieces.
Gently stir in the blueberries.
Pour in the buttermilk-egg mixture, and use a wooden spoon to stir together until it forms a crumbly-looking dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Gently knead it once or twice to give the dough a smoother appearance.
Divide the dough in half, and shape it into two 1/2-inch thick circles. Use a sharp knife to cut each circle into 6 triangles (as if cutting a pizza).
Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with the remaining tablespoon of buttermilk and sprinkle the tops with the coarse sugar, if using. Bake for 12 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned and the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and set the tray on a wire rack to cool a few minutes before serving. Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container and heated in the toaster the next day.