I love me some holidays. The celebration, the festive music, the lights, the good cheer, every single part of it puts a huge smile on my face and reminds me of all the good things in life. With only a week to go until the season finally dawns upon us, I thought I would share some fun things that we can do to get ready. After all, rushing through malls (or 5th avenue) without some mental preparation can turn anyone into a scrooge faster than you can say bah humbug.
Last Friday was the first festive friday I celebrated. I spent the morning sitting in the Questura (police station), reading on my kindle. I spent my afternoon in a poorly-lit classroom. Obviously, I needed something to lift my mood, even if just a little bit. Turns out that the perfect solution was two classic Christmas foods: roasted chestnuts and gingerbread.
There’s a little cart in Pavia that’s been selling roasted chestnuts ever since the beginning of October. While the smell is always intoxicating, I never really wanted to buy them. All I knew about chestnuts, or really roasted chestnuts, was from the Johnny Mathis song (as I first met the song, I realize there are myriad version) and my parents’ love for marron glaces. It was a chilly Friday, the trees were brilliant colors and the sun had already set. It seemed like an ideal time to try these roasted beauties. I wasn’t disappointed.
As the man handed me the hot paper bag filled with perfectly scorched nuts, I peeked in, unsure how to eat them. With trepidation I peeled off the outer layer, burning my hands in the process. I popped one in my mouth and the soft chewy texture contrasted with a deep roasty flavor took over. They were awesome, they were beautiful, they were so Christmas. After getting my hands appropriately charry, I put the leftover chestnuts in my bag to save for making a wintery stew.
The festive evening wasn’t over. The previous day I had bought molasses as my yearly molasses craving dawned. The thought of the sticky, gooey joy made me excited. I forget about the sweetener until the holidays dawn and then all I want to do is eat molasses morning, noon and night. While I would have loved to have been able to make a full proper batch of scones, it simply wouldn’t have been practical. So, I settled into the kitchen and got started with my rusty math skills to make a single serving recipe from this awesome one over at the noshery. With a bit of tweaking, I do believe we have a winner on our hands! Here’s the result:
3T + 1t Flour
1T + 1t oats
~2t brown sugar (you can use less, I did)
1/4t baking powder
Preheat oven to 400 F or ~200 C
Combine the milk and lemon in a small bowl, set aside.
In a slightly larger bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and spices. Add in the chilled butter, rubbing it into the flour mixture with your fingers until it resembles bread crumbs. Pour in the milk, molasses and vanilla. Stir (you can use either your hands or a spoon, I find it’s easier to use a spoon). If you want a pretty shaped scone, you can roll this out and even add a glaze. If, like me, you just wanted to eat this darn thing straightaway, spoon the dough onto a prepared baking sheet and put it in the oven.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes, checking at the halfway point to make sure your scone isn’t getting too dark!
I hope that you can incorporate something festive into your day today, whether it’s remembering a beautiful holiday memory, enjoying a red cup drink or listening to a carol. Come on guys, less than a week until Thanksgiving!
Are you looking forward to the holidays? What are you doing (or not doing) to get ready?