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This is another long-ago Long Distance Kitchen recipe (from last August, cough cough), but so scrumptious that it shouldn’t be forgotten – Figgy Buckwheat Scones from Good to the Grain.  In fact I’ve made them twice, and I’ve been considering playing around with the dough recipe to see what else I can do with it.  It turns out that I love the flavor of buckwheat – there’s another Good to the Grain recipe from October to share soon.

This is a two part recipe – first, you make a batch of Fig Butter – figs cooked with red wine and port and spiced with cloves, anise and cinnamon, then pureed with butter.  The fig butter recipe makes more than you need for a single batch of scones, and the extra is delicious on toast.  It disappears around here.

The second part of the recipe is a fairly classic scone recipe made with about half buckwheat flour and half all-purpose.  The buckwheat flavor is fantastically nutty and a nice complement to the rich fig butter, which might overwhelm a lesser scone.

You roll the dough out, spread fig butter on it, then roll it up into a log and cut it into fat slices, which get turned on their sides and baked into spirals of goodness.

The middle is a little gooey with the fig and the outside is crisp and crunchy.

Whoa!  I just did the unthinkable.  I got up an hour early on a Monday morning in order to make more delicious steel-cut oats.  Two reasons: I polished off the first batch last week, and this week my in-the-house, read-to-eat options were cut down to…toast.  Or getting up early in pursuit of steel-cut goodness.  So up I got, and I toasted the oats, then boiled them, then let them simmer for half an hour, then sat down with a bowl and some maple syrup and a cup of coffee without cream. The recipe, naturally, came from Good to the Grain.

So getting up an hour early is the first unthinkable thing (I have problems leaving the house on time in the morning).  Taking pictures (although yes, the bowl is already empty – steel-cut oats just aren’t that photogenic without some attractive fruit on top) and immediately uploading them onto my computer is the second unthinkable thing.  The third is actually presenting them here before I even finished my second cup of coffee.  And as of this typing, I’m not yet running late for work.  You know, this is the way I used to blog.  I kind of miss it.

Clean Monday is off to a good start.  And tomorrow I can reheat leftovers and sleep a bit longer.  Although (shh, don’t tell) I’m enjoying this more relaxed morning routine.

Well, yesterday was Meatfare Sunday, which announces the coming of Lent.  No more meat until after Pascha (Easter) and this week is the last week for eggs & dairy, so I’m declaring it Dairy Week.  A final round of those delicious poppy seed wafers made with butter, eggs and heavy cream?  Yes, please.  Crumbled feta on a cracker?  Why not!  Buttery apple crisp with vanilla ice cream?  Why yes, let’s pick up some more vanilla ice cream.

This morning I realized that I didn’t have any granola to go with my Greek yogurt, so instead I thought I’d make oatmeal.  But I wanted it to be…exciting…so I checked out the index of Good to the Grain to see if she had any suggestions.  That’s when I spotted a recipe for steel-cut oatmeal and remembered that I had steel-cut oats languishing in the cupboard.  She has you toast the oats in a little melted butter, then add the water and cook until thick and creamy – and the result really IS thick and creamy.  Pour a little cream on top (don’t mind if I do) and add a bit of sweetener (she has a recipe for a pear compote, but I went for quick and easy with maple syrup) and stick the leftovers in the fridge to reheat on work mornings.

I’m a happy camper – and I think this will still be delicious during Lent without the cream (shh, I cheat with butter during Lent) but with some fruit.  I’m always at a loss for Lenten breakfasts beyond toast with almond butter.  Regular oatmeal is okay, but to me it just begs for DAIRY to make it more exciting.  The steel-cut oats are just a touch more thrilling.

In related news, Bronwen and I are picking things up again with Long Distance Kitchen, just in time for those Lenten recipes!  Hello, beans!  I still have old recipes to post (ahem) so maybe I should get started on that before I dive into the new stuff – milk tea cupcakes, green tea & chocolate macaroons, that apple crisp (are we sensing a dessert theme here, or is it just me?)

I love pancakes.  So of course, when I saw the recipe for multigrain Buttermilk Pancakes in Good to the Grain, I had to assign them for Long Distance Kitchen.  Yeah, yeah, I’d already assigned buttermilk pancakes back at the beginning of the project, but this recipe calls for a combination of whole wheat flour and a multigrain flour mix, so I knew the end result would be much heartier, and I wanted to see how it compared to my golden pancake standard (the Martha Stewart recipe I assigned the first time).

The multigrain flour mix proportions are included in the cookbook, so I bought yet another flour canister and mixed up a batch – which has so far lasted me through two or three batches of pancakes and a batch of waffles.  Just whisk together 1 cup each of whole wheat flour, oat flour, and barley flour, with a half cup each of millet flour and rye flour.  This of course necessitated a trip to Bob’s Red Mill for bulk flour (estimating quantities was the hardest part, since I didn’t want to have too much leftover).

Then you mix up your pancake batter, being sure not to overmix so they’re nice and fluffy, and cook them up.  Easy-peasy.  I’ll often make half-batches of pancakes, unless I have a bunch of people over for brunch, or I’ll keep the leftover batter in a Pyrex bowl in the fridge to cook up later.  Not quite as fluffy as the first time around, but still tasty and even faster.

These were definitely heartier than Martha’s recipe, more substantial and less decadent, while still being completely satisfying as a buttermilk pancake.  Delicious with butter and syrup, or fresh fruit, or yogurt, or whatever you like.  I noticed they stuck with me a little longer than white flour pancakes, and they aren’t any harder to make once you’ve got the multigrain mix going.  A keeper.

Yum yum yum!  Another recipe from Good to the Grain. I assigned this one back in June, and made and gobbled them up right away.  This was my first adventure with barley flour, if I remember correctly, and it adds an interesting flavor to scones.  While it’s a pain to keep lots of different kinds of flour around (and my cupboard space is suffering as a result), it’s worth it for the way it introduces slightly different flavors into baking – especially heartier things like scones.

While Bronwen opted to make her own strawberry jam, I used the store-bought stuff I had on hand.  Based on the pictures, her jam was juicier than mine and soaked into the dough more, while mine was thicker and  just oozed out the sides a little and hardened.  Basically, you make the scone dough, roll it into two discs, spread one disc with jam, and put the second disc on top.  Then you brush the top with butter and sprinkle it with sugar (for a little crunch) and slice the whole thing into wedges before baking.

As you can see, I was so busy eating them while they were still warm that I forgot to take a picture until later.  They were tasty and hearty, sweet but not too sweet to serve as breakfast or a snack.

When I first got into baking in middle school, I tried several scone recipes but found them all too dry – a scone sounded fantastically old-fashioned, English and tea-party-ish, but I couldn’t make one I liked.  Since then I’ve made several I liked, and I’ll be adding this one to the list of scone recipes to make again.  Maybe I should have a tea party and serve them…while dressed in my most old-fashioned outfit.

I’m finally up to June in my Long Distance Kitchen recipes, and the first recipe of the month was the Oatmeal Sandwich Bread from Good to the Grain, a cookbook that’s certainly been earning its keep around here – so far I’ve made five of the baked goods, plus the fig butter (and I’ve made the buttermilk pancakes at least 3 times so far), and I can’t wait to try more.  In fact, I have to hold myself back from just assigning a recipe from here every week.


Anyway, the bread – I love oatmeal yeast breads for the way the rolled oats sort of disappear into the loaf, leaving something that slices nicely and makes the best toast ever.  As sandwich bread, it’s probably best sooner rather than later, but as toast it’s delicious as long as the loaf lasts.  While I’m no bread expert, I’ve worked with yeast often enough to feel confident in what I’m doing.  There’s nothing like baking bread on a chilly day, since it’s a good excuse to leave the oven on for a long time.

This recipe actually rose amazingly quickly, which would be great if you’re in a hurry or if you don’t have a nice warm place to let it rise.  Both Bronwen and I ended up with super-tall loaves, and I didn’t even let it rise for the whole recommended time.  Bronwen also succumbed to the temptation to make it look like the picture, and she made apricot jam to go along with the bread – yum!  I was this close to doing the same thing, stopped only by my lack of apricots.


I’ll definitely be making this recipe again – although it’s pretty similar to the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion recipe for Vermont Oatmeal Maple-Honey Bread, which I’ve made several times.  If it weren’t for the fact that my arms might fall off after all the kneading, I might make them both at once and do a side-by-side comparison.  The KAF recipe is probably a bit sweeter, but otherwise I think they’re close.

October 2021

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