Cranberry Orange Scones

Between a summer internship where I became all too familiar with skid row, an ushering position at the Hollywood Bowl that provided me with endless hours of amusement in the form of heavily intoxicated elderlies, and a retro wagon who’s reliability hardly matched her funky façade, it’s been a summer with very little breathing room. Luckily, I’ve enjoyed every minute of the craziness and am now preparing for a melancholy farewell from this place I call home. Headed back to Boston in only a few days, I anxiously anticipate the upcoming school year with unbridled enthusiasm. However, there are a few things I’m regrettably leaving behind. At the top of the list sits – or rather jumps – Desi. Seeing my overzealous labradoodle pal is, by far, my favorite part of coming home (sorry Dad). With the spunk of a Mexican Jumping Bean, Desi has the most charisma I’ve ever seen in a living creature. With long eyelashes, a wet nose, and ears that perk up at the mere sight of my running shoes, she’s my biggest fan, and I’m hers.

Above my bedroom is Desi’s. When we first got word that “bright green girl” would be ours, we puppy proofed the kitchen as if the Tasmanian Devil was moving in.

All the cabinets were secured and wooden gates were installed between both the doorways, one leading to the living room and the other to my basement bedroom. Now, before you call child services to report a Code Harry Potter, let me elaborate. The basement used to be our home storage unit. As a youngster, I was terrified of the place. As far as I can remember, there were endless mazes of narrow pathways between the ceiling-high piles of papers and boxes labeled with letters I could not yet read. My dad tells me I’m exaggerating, but I know what I saw! It was dark and cold down there and no matter how many times Dad counted to three, I wouldn’t go downstairs alone. Times have changed and that eerie basement has been transformed into a suave little apartment I call my bedroom. With walls painted bright colors, I’m a little less scared to descend the staircase solo.

But that’s not where the magic happens (at least not the blog-appropriate magic). Desi got the cool bedroom: the kitchen…although my first memory of it is equally grim. It was the fateful day when Dad asked me to bring him an egg from the refrigerator. Step by step, I cautiously made the tedious voyage across the endless kitchen floor. Unlike my ancestors, I didn’t make it to the Promised Land. The pressure was too intense and I dropped the egg onto the then linoleum floor, where it surprisingly (considering my lack of vertical astuteness) shattered and splattered, quickly followed by a dropped jaw and puppy dog eyes that even Desi would commend.

Lucky for Dad, the traumatic experience didn’t scare me nearly as much as the basement did, saving him a lot of money in hefty renovations. A few things have changed though. The cabinet dedicated to my “play kitchen,” complete with plastic knives that could magically cut my plastic vegetables (Velcro is a genius thing) is now filled with the various attachments to the plethora of kitchen accessories generously donated to our collection by my grandmother (provider of the sacred Kitchen Aid mixer). “Sienna’s College Scoreboard” has made its permanent visit to the walls and has subsequently been graffiti’d with unfavorable puns directed at those universities silly enough to reject me. I mean, c’mon guys!

Other knick knacks remain from my childhood, like the artfully designed (however free) aluminum Coke bottle that will someday be worth something, the postcard on the fridge depicting a little girl flipping off the camera (I convinced my playdate partners that she was me on more than one occasion), and of course, the Drawer of Death. It’s exactly what it sounds like. A deep drawer filled with those utensils that have no logical place – and also happen to be the sharpest in the kitchen. Where’s the double-sided harpoon knife with serrated edges that spit fire? In a thick, password protected aluminum box on the highest shelf where no one can reach it? Nah, its in the Drawer of Death. Duh.

Though potentially a threat to national security, my kitchen is a comfy spot crammed with eclectic artifacts and gadgets and is the hub of my culinary creativity. With that very little bit of breathing room I’ve been allotted this summer, I’ve managed to take advantage of the kitchen while it’s mine.

A few weeks ago, I woke up without an alarm clock for the first time in weeks, craving a scone. “Strange,” I thought, “I don’t really like scones.” Maybe it means I’m growing up. First scones, then Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons, and next thing you know, I’m that drunk lady at the Hollywood Bowl all the ushers are laughing at!

I got up that morning, found a scone recipe in my favorite cookbook – the Internet – and got to baking in my PJs. A flour spill or two later, I had a tasty breakfast with which to peruse the BB&B catalogue.

I’m here now with an enhanced version of that recipe for all you foodies out there. I’ve made these Cranberry Orange Scones as my last hurrah, and as an ode to this kooky kitchen. I’m not sure when I’ll be back to digging through the Drawer of Death, taking advantage of the endless spice rack, serving on ceramic plates, or utilizing a refrigerator that isn’t half my height. Back I go to the world of salt and pepper packets, smelly microwaves, and using pocketknives to chop onions. My time raiding this pantry is up, so onto the next I move. Like a rolling scone, who knows where I’ll make a mess next.

These moist scones are rich with flavor and balance fluffiness and density with precision. They’re incredibly easy to make, so you can fulfill your hankerings quickly! The bittersweet cranberries blended throughout, combined with an orangey tang create a mixture of flavors versatile enough for all seasons. I hope you try them out. You won’t be sorry.

·      2 Cups Flour
·      1/3 Cup Sugar
·      1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
·      ¼ Teaspoon Baking Soda
·      8 Tablespoons Salted Butter (frozen)
·      ½ Cup Dried Cranberries
·      2 Pinches Orange Zest
·      ½ Cup Light Sour Cream
·      1 Large Egg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place the rack on the lower-middle rung. Next, chop the frozen butter into slices and set aside.

Then combine the dry ingredients in a large food processer. Once blended, add the butter chunks and mix until the forming dough is flaky.

Secret ingredient #1 of these scones is sour cream. It’s not necessarily a staple in everyone’s fridge, so make sure you run (don’t tell Desi) to the market before the craving gets too strong. A close second is the orange zest. It gives the scones just a hint of tang that isn’t too overpowering. By the way, the zester is definitely a resident of the D.O.D.

Plop the sour cream in. Forget Daisy, we’re gonna need way more than a dollop for these triangular treats. Carefully retrieve an egg, being wary not to drop it, and add it to the mix. Next, drop in your zest and dried cranberries (use dried blueberries, raisins, or currants if you’re not a fan). Snap on the lid and blend the dough until it forms a ball inside of the food processer (isn’t that convenient!).

Place the ball of dough on a floured surface.

Pat the dough down with the palm of your hand into an 8-inch circle that’s about ¾ of an inch thick.

Like you’re cutting a pizza, use a large knife (or a pocketknife if you’re in college) to cut the circle into eight pieces.

Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or coated with butter. Space the scones-to-be a few inches apart from one another and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the tops become golden brown and slightly cracked.

Enjoy with tea and finger sandwiches if you feel like a million bucks, or just chow down till you’re stuffed!

Cheers, L.A.!