It’s Labor Day weekend in the States. When I was a kid that meant the start of school was imminently near. This weekend, however, was supposed labor-filled, with school events and chores Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. Summer has clearly been over for a while. Mother Nature is driving this point home hard as the weather is getting cooler here with the help of lots of rain and the kind of dampness that, after a summer of hot, catches you by surprise and leaves you wishing you left the house with a cardigan.
With this change in season comes the slow disappearance of the peaches that I’ve been having for breakfast every morning for the last three weeks. Taking advantage today of a (blissfully) cancelled school family picnic (because of rain), I took the day to tackle our oven once more. This time setting out to make some whole wheat bread and peach nutmeg scones.
I think I’ve got the hang of the oven at this point. Hold your breath for when we attempt a turkey in that thing for Thanksgiving, but the basic gist of how I use my oven involves a fine balance of lowering the temperature just below what the recipe calls for, setting the top dial on the beloved “starfish setting” and alternating between heat on top, heat on bottom and heat coming from both. It’s pretty hard to pop something in the oven and go do something else while you wait, but still, I’m thankful just to have an oven. Again, hold your breath for that turkey.
The adventure today came from the yeast that I bought here in Chengdu. So far everything I’ve found here, be it imported or local, has been pretty un-reactive and un-rising. So we’re going to have some pretty flat and chewy whole wheat crackers this week. About three loaves worth in fact.
In my frustration I went on to my “all things flour” website, King Arthur’s Flour to investigate shipping a block of yeast to China. On the site I found a recipe for Peach Nutmeg Scones, the perfect snack for a rainy day and the perfect way to bid adieu to what looks like the end of summer.
I blame my love for scones on two things, my Grandma Witter’s love for baked goods and a family in Hong Kong that I tutored for three years where scones and clotted cream were part of a weekly afternoon tutoring/tea ritual. Scones, sadly enough, are not present in the scant bakery scene here in Chengdu. Which means, like many things in China, if you want it, and you want it to be good, you have to learn to make it yourself.
While the bread was a bust, the scones were quite a good way to wrap up a busy weekend. And hopefully, since Phil’s in Qingdao for nash hash this weekend, they might last past today.