Ours is a pragmatic partnership. A marriage made by matchmakers. Social, economic and educational equity? Check. Common Genetic Pool? Yes, his grandmother and mine are cousins once removed. Horoscopes matched? Expeditiously ignored, unless the meeting does not go well in which case the alignment of stars will turn out to be sadly (but conveniently) out of synchrony.
It begins with an elaborately casual tea staged at my future in-law’s home: Eligible Bachelor #1 meets Nubile College Grad under four pairs of fondly hopeful parental eyes. Bachelor drops his teaspoon and is struck dumb. Bachelorette studiously ignores the handsome klutz and strikes up an animated discussion with groom-to-be’s father. Not an auspicious beginning. Considering that the chick will soon fly the coop (my tickets to America purchased, scholarship to graduate school in hand), the situation warrants bringing in the heavy weights, no less than a sari-clad replica of the Dowager of Downton Abbey! Post haste, the grandparents arrange a second meeting in neutral territory and after some masterful maneuvering I find myself tête-à-tête amidst the bougainvilleas and overgrown crotons of my grandmother’s garden. Two years later, we are married and have so remained for more than two and a half decades although I tossed off my sacred mangalsutra immediately and my husband has never worn a wedding ring.
It should therefore come as little surprise to you, dear reader, that Valentine’s Day passes by unnoticed in Madamescientist’s household. I’ll pass on the roses, thanks. But that one and half hour ride from Baltimore to Philly on a snowy Sunday morning, so I can chair a meeting before flying on to another in Houston..that is much appreciated, thank you! So when my virtual friend and fellow blogger Michelle shared a recipe for heart shaped strawberry scones, I thought it would be nice if we emerged from our respective corners to raise a cup of cheer in memory of that fateful tea party so many years ago. I should note that I considered myself a gardener until I came across Michelle. She is a Master Gardener. Her weekly diary chronicling her potager garden in the south of France (with Dayo the cat) both delights and enchants.
- Begin by preheating your oven to 425 F.
- Chop a cup of ripe strawberries or partially thaw some frozen ones.
- Cut 3/4 stick of unsalted butter (6 tbs) into small cubes. Keep it cold.
- Mix the dry ingredients: 2.25 cups flour, 1 tbs baking powder, 0.25 cup sugar (more if you like your scones sweet), 0.5 tsp salt.
- Add the butter and using your hands, distribute it hither and thither. Yes, it is messy but it will soon get stickier. There should be pea sized particles of buttery goodness randomly dispersed through the flour mixture. Mix in the strawberry pieces.
- Now add 1 cup of cream. By now I have flour on the tip of my nose and in my hair. To compound the problem, I used my hand to stir everything up but you will use a spatula as Michelle recommends, since you will read these instructions more carefully. Notwithstanding the sticky mess, turn out the dough on the counter top and gently pat out. I didn’t bother using a rolling pin. (Never mind that I couldn’t locate my biscuit/cookie cutter at this point and became obsessed with finding one. So I stuck the dough in the fridge, ran out to the local store which carries no heart shaped cutters, only circular ones. Oh well, I will cut out paper hearts instead).
- Working quickly, place cut out scones on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 min or until golden brown. Let cool.
- Make a wonderful mess by putting some confectioners sugar into a tea strainer, placed over a small bowl. Using a knife, tap the strainer so that sugar is dusted over your paper heart placed on top of the scone. Remove the heart and admire the pattern. This goes pretty quickly, much the same as my patience.
Tea for Two
From the jaggery-sweetened chai sold in tiny earthen pots at Howrah Railway station, or the cardamom-infused Assam tea served mid-afternoon by the Southern housewife in brimming stainless steel tumblers, to the weakly elegant Nilgiri infusion steeped in tradition, bone china and the lace doilies of elegant urban drawing rooms, tea is a treat all over the Indian subcontinent.
- I bring 2.5 cups cold water to a boil. To that, I add a few cloves, lightly crushed cardamom pods with shells, a slice or two of ginger and some black peppercorns.
- Pour into a teapot with 3 tsp of loose leaves (one for each cup and one for the pot!). You will need a strong brew to stand up to the addition of spices and milk.
- Meanwhile, heat some milk. Adding cold milk to hot tea defeats the purpose of a hot drink!
So there you have it. Tea for two shared over memories of red roses from my spring garden ..better than any hothouse bouquet. Hope you find your rose garden too.