Monday, September 29, 2008

A not so interesting post: Recipe for Apricot -Ginger Scones

Not terribly exciting, but I thought a few people might find a recipe for Apricot-Ginger Scones interesting. Apparently not 16 year old males. Tonight, Active Son suggested I post something 'interesting' on my blog, something not-about-food. Suggestions? Oh, maybe something like Active Son's surge of motivation to run a 21K (half marathon) in December and the ensuing flurry of running activity which Active Son has been enjoying. Maybe. But first a recipe for Apricot Ginger Scones. It is just that time of year that I am enjoying a surge of baking energy and this is a recipe I'd been wanting to try for awhile now. In fact it was clipped from a Sunset magazine (date?) years ago and stored in a Recipes I Really Want To Try Someday file. Great recipe, delicious scones. The five of us (not six) polished them off in about half an hour--except for the one I spirited away to the back of the kitchen cabinet so that I could enjoy it later.

Apricot-Ginger Scones

3 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and salt
3/4 cup of butter cut into small pieces
3/4 cup diced dried apricots
1/3 cup diced crystallized ginger (or a lesser amount of fresh grated ginger mixed with a little sugar?)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tsp. white vinegar for those in a land of no buttermilk)

In a large bowl or mixer mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add butter and mix or rub with fingers (or fork) until coarse crumbs form. Stir in apricots, ginger, and lemon peel. Add buttermilk and mix just until evenly moistened. Scrape dough onto a floured board and knead about 6 turns or until dough holds together. On a lightly greased baking sheet, pat dough into an oval about 7X12 inches (or a little larger--I think mine was). With a floured knife, cut diagonal lines through dough, forming 8 or 9 (or more) triangles. Bake in a 400 degree F oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

I added a no-measurements glaze:

powdered sugar
a little butter
milk, adding a little at a time until the glaze reaches the 'right' consistency.

I am already imagining variations to try: cranberry-orange, chocolate with peanut butter glaze, apple-pecan with maple glaze...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

30 Seconds of Rain

Yesterday Amman received its first rainfall since March. And it lasted approximately 3o seconds. Not really enough to wash away the months of accumulated dust but it was enough to bring expectant children running outside and to give the air a fresh, autumn scent. Thirty seconds of rain in September in Amman is something to be thankful for as any precipitation this early in the fall is unusual.

Today we had a real rainfall, this time lasting about 30 minutes. The olive harvest traditionally commences after the first rain of the season but Dear Husband wonders if it will this year as it is still early and the olives don't appear ready.

As usual, the welcome cool weather of fall, even if only temporary before the heat returns for one last appearance, brings on a fit of culinary activity: Yesterday it was apricot-ginger scones (polished off in half an hour), four loaves of bread, and gallons of salsa. Today it was potato soup and tomorrow it will be fig preserves and an apple cobbler. My husband and the teen-age boys are happy for the cool-weather inspiration I have received!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Long Awaited Musical Moment

Artist Son had the beat before he had words. As a toddler he kept time with his hands whenever he heard music and as he grew he began working out rhythms with his hands or anything else he could use as instruments. And though he seemed a born percussionist, we took the whole drum-set thing very slowly and cautiously, beginning Artist Son's musical studies on the piano, Arab tabli (hand-drum) and a little orchestra percussion. And though he has been longing to play a trap set for many years, Artist Son has persevered, with excellence, through the other musical challenges put before him.

He patiently asked again last year if "this could be the year" in which he could take lessons on a trap set. Again we asked him to wait--one more year, while we worked to launch Oldest Daughter into her musical orbit of conservatory studies.

So now, the happy (and loud) time has arrived for Artist Son. Upon returning to Jordan this fall we took assessment of our means to purchase a trap set: no used market to speak of and new prices are considerably higher than US prices. However, we were able to sell a no-longer-played clarinet and Artist Son's beginning snare drum to raise half the price. Artist son contributed a big part of his summer earnings and there was just a bit more to add to reach the price of a new trap-set.

In his parental pragmatism, Dear husband had decided that an electronic drum set would be the best way to go. No sound for us or the neighbors during practice and solo jam sessions. I longed for him to be correct, however I had a idea in the back of my admittedly non-musical mind that Artist Son should begin on an acoustic set as they have a feel all their own and he would be learning technique for the first time. Artist Son's new drum teacher confirmed my suspicions: Artist son should begin on an acoustic set.

So far a close-the-door policy is the best we've done on muting the sound for the rest of the household while Artist Son happily bangs away, albeit with very good rhythm. Dear Husband tells me that for a mere $150 we can purchase muting pads for the drum heads and I think we're agreed that this will be a good investment.

As for the jam sessions, they have begun in earnest, and it looks like they won't all be solo: Dear husband took his guitar in today and I could barely hear it and Dear husband's voice above the beat.

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Update on the life of your college student"

This was the title of the most recent email from Oldest Daughter, now in her second week of classes at Oberlin College/Conservatory. It was one of those emails which just blesses the heart of a parent, one which you read more than a couple of times, and then since you just have to share it with someone, you forward it to the grandparents!

I am very thankful that Dear Husband and I were able to travel to Oberlin for the parent orientation a few weeks ago and help Oldest Daughter settle into her new surroundings before returning to Jordan last week, and so now, when she tells us of her life at Oberlin, her classes, her teachers, her friends, and happenings around the Con, we are able to understand a little better what she is talking about, having visited the campus and having met some faculty and friends.

So here is Oldest Daughter's essential update, annotated by Mom:

Private Teacher: Oldest daughter has had two private lessons with her new teacher (as well as daily group lessons during orientation week) and feels that she will work well with her teacher. She describes him as "very intelligent, thought out, and intentional in his teaching, as well as hard to please--all good qualities." He is very happy with Oldest Daughter's left hand (as in how it plays the violin) and sends his compliments to her former teacher.

Hanging out in the conservatory (Con) lounge

Classes: Lots of work, lots of quizzes, but Oldest Daughter is learning lots. So far she is pacing herself well and keeping up with homework.

Happy Roommates--a great match

Roomate: Oldest Daughter couldn't have been blessed with a better one! They've already talked about rooming together next year. Her roommate is a fellow Con student (voice) an international student (Canadian), and they have lots in common, most importantly their faith in God.

Music Nerds

Friends: When I attended college, I never went anywhere near a music class and I didn't have musician friends but I did notice that many of the music majors hung out together and they seemed to be having lots of fun together. Even as an outsider (like, way outside) I could see that their music somehow bound them together. And so Oldest Daughter is enjoying being a music nerd (her own words) and spending time with lots of other music nerds. And nerd is definitely not meant pejoratively here--I thoroughly enjoyed meeting some of her friends on campus and found them to be very 'cool', articulate, and interesting people.

Spiritual Life: Oldest Daughter and her roommate are attending Oberlin Christian Fellowship (OCF), a weekly Bible study in their dorm (studying the book of Acts), and are attending church together on Sunday mornings. They also joined an online prayer group so that they can pray for each other.

Rest: This is the only area of Oldest Daughter's collegiate life which doesn't receive an A grade, but it seems she is doing the best she can for the time being. Dear Husband added up Oldest Daughter's class, rehearsal, and personal practice hours: 51 hours a week--not counting homework. It doesn't help that she receives only one credit for chamber orchestra, which meets three times a week, two hours a time. Such is the life of music major. She pretty much works from morning till night five days a week, finishes up homework and practicing on Saturday, and rests on Sunday--mostly.

Though many miles now separate us and we miss her very much, we rejoice in all that God has provided for Oldest Daughter and for the wonderful opportunities she is experiencing to learn, to grow, and to mature. We are also thankful for Vonage, Skype, email, and Facebook--so many great, easy ways to stay in touch.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Blogging to Stay Awake

Just one more hour and I will allow myself to go to sleep: we returned home from the US this morning and are making ourselves stay up in an attempt to deal with the inevitable jet lag. We flew out of Salt Lake City about 26 hours ago and enjoyed one of our best ever international flights, a non-stop on Delta from NYC to Amman. The only blight on the flight was unruly children. Two in particular, seated across the aisle from us, were little terrors who would not stay in their seat and their mother 'couldn't' make them. Or so she told the incredulous flight attendant.

In the last week we traveled to Ohio to take Oldest daughter to college, back to Boise to do last-minute shopping, pack eleven suitcases to as close to 50 pounds as we could get them plus 10 substantial carry-ons, said good-byes to dear family and friends, drove to Salt Lake City to catch our flight to NYC, and returned to home-sweet-home, Jordan. We all agree that it is good to be home.