A while ago, I was in the produce section of the grocery store, pondering possible vegetable choices for dinner. Out of the blue, an East Indian woman approached me and she started talking to me as if we knew each other. She talked at length about her thoughts on food and cooking. She told me that energy flows through everything – through me, through the vegetables I was holding in my hands, through all parts of life – and that I needed to think about these things when I prepare food. She told me that I needed to cook with love, and that when people eat the food I make – they will literally be able to taste love.
Granted, a lot of what this woman said made no sense to me at all. In my typical American fashion, I was in a hurry and was in no mood for a 20 minute conversation in the middle of the produce section. But on days like today, when I approach cooking (and life) with a heavy heart, that I wonder about what she said. When I am sad, can you taste it in my food? When I feel love in great abundance, can you feel it in every bite? I don’t know. Somehow I doubt it, but I also want it to be true. It seems that food has become my art form, my one great artistic expression of myself. I am not a writer, I am not a painter, I am not a musician. But I still feel the need to express my creative viewpoint. And for now, that creativity is manifesting itself through cooking. I am not sure what that means, exactly. But I do know that I want to cook with love. And I want that love to be felt – however that may be.
That being said, it was with a heavy heart that I made a small batch of (vegan) lemon and ginger scones. While they sound like a bright and chipper recipe (and they are!), I was in no such place. I made the scones for my little sister’s bridal shower. And, of course, a bridal shower is usually a very happy thing. But, alas, my sister is currently in Uganda (and is getting married to her sudanese fiancee in Uganda), and therefore was not able to attend her own shower. I can’t go to the wedding and I don’t know when my sister will be home. I miss her terribly, and I think about her often. And while the shower was to celebrate her marriage to Stephen (which is a beautiful and wonderful thing), I still felt sad. I felt guilty for not being able to afford a plane ticket to Africa. I felt lousy that I have planned so many friends weddings in my lifetime, and yet here I am across the planet for my sister, unable to help at all. Throwing a shower and making some scones seems like such a small gesture when your baby sister is getting married.
Alas, I put on a brave face and I made some scones and I helped throw a shower. And you know what? It was delightful. It was such a lovely mix of family and friends, all there to support Candyce in her African wedding. We told stories, we laughed, we cried – and, of course we ate scones. Sometimes life is bittersweet like that. I suppose maybe its appropriate that lemon and ginger scones were my pastry of choice. A little bit bitter, but mostly sweet. (And…most of the attendees didn’t even know the scones were vegan. I’m tricky like that).
I won’t pretend that these scones are some great metaphor for my sister’s African wedding. But I do know that I made them with love – even if that love was tainted with a little bit of sadness. And, if I do say so myself…the scones were quite tasty. With recipes like these, Orthodox Lent hasn’t been that bad. Honestly, I’m really enjoying the vegan diet. That being said, here is the recipe. And, here is to Candyce and Stephen and their upcoming nuptials! I love you both.
(Vegan) Lemon Ginger Scones
(Adapted from this recipe from Vegan Yum Yum)
(Note: This recipe can be made the “normal” way by substituting butter for margarine and milk for soy milk. Also, I served the scones with lemon curd which is definitely not vegan, but super delicious on the scones! You can purchase lemon curd at Trader Joes or you can make it from scratch. Here is my recipe. )
2 Cups All- Purpose Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
Zest of 1 Lemon
1/3 Cup Earth Balance Margarine
3 Tbs Maple Syrup (or regular sugar)
1/2 Cup Soymilk
2 Tbs Lemon Juice
Preheat oven to 400º F.
Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl (flour through zest). Mix the wet ingredients together (syrup, soymilk and lemon juice) in a separate small bowl. Using a pastry cutter or a fork (I always just use my fingers), blend the Earth Balance into the dry ingredients until there are no chunks of margarine left and the mixture looks like damp sand.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and mix with your hands to form a soft dough. Only mix until just combined, adding more flour if the mixture is too wet. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll out to a slab 3/4″ thick. Using a biscuit cutter or a glass with about a 2″ diameter, cut out your scones. Press the scraps of dough together, roll out again, and continue cutting scones until you’ve used up your dough.
Transfer scones to a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, or a non-stick mat. Brush the tops with a mixture of earth balance margarine and lemon juice. Sprinkle the tops of the scones with lemon zest and granulated sugar (I used raw sugar as I like the texture and look).