Swans, scones and summer’s gone


Thanksgiving at the lake is always a bittersweet end to the cottaging season. With the boat drydocked, the dock out and the Adirondack chairs stacked and covered, it’s tough to pretend that it’s just a really chilly August day. Maybe that’s why we close up on Thanksgiving weekend; cooking a full turkey dinner for 12 in the tiny cottage kitchen, making do with what’s on hand, makes me long for the bounty of my city pantry. At least until next spring when I will be pining to grill by the lake.

This year we had  special guests – a pair of trumpeter swans sailed by and watched us prepare to haul the boat out. They weren’t at all afraid. We did not, however, see any of the wild turkeys that often hang around. Maybe swans know they have been off the menu since the middle ages.

I often don’t sleep well for a day or two before a big dinner party. I was up just after four on Saturday and decided to bake since I was keeping bakers hours.

L woke to a nice little breakfast of buttermilk raisin scones and home-made butter. She was thankful.

Thanksgiving Buttermilk Raisin Scones

2 cup flour

1/4 cup  sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup or so raisins

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup buttermilk
Cut butter into dry ingredients. Add raisins. Add beaten egg and milk. Stir until ingredients are moist. The trick is to knead no more than a dozen or so times. Half the dough and shape it into a circle half an inch or so thick.

Cut into scone-sized wedges and bake on a greased cookie sheet for 12 minutes at 425F.

Home-made butter

This is the easiest thing to make and you won’t want store-bought butter again.

Good quality 35% cream

salt (optional)

Leave the cream out overnight to come up to room temperature. Pour the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer and set speed to number two with the whisk attachment. Look away; I am convinced that if you watch the cream you will never get it to turn to butter.

After anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on the age of the cream (fresh cream takes longer), the fat will separate and form a clump on the whisk. You’ll know when this happens because you’ll hear the buttermilk sloshing around.

Remove the butter and knead continuously under a cold tap for a few minutes to rinse off all the buttermilk (this is important to keep the butter from tasting sour). Knead in some salt if desired and pack into small jars. Butter freezes well so make a big batch and keep it in the freezer.

Use the buttermilk to bake some scones, which is what I did.


One thought on “Swans, scones and summer’s gone

  1. Pingback: Fresh fig and strawberry jam « Meats, Roots and Leaves

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