Santa…baby.

How weird is it that Christmas is over?  When I was a kid I remember the Christmas anticipation was good for MONTHS.  I noticed things like carols on the mall PA system and Santa’s throne thing set up in the middle of the Jefferson City, Missouri Capital Mall.  I made my mom pop open and bake crescent rolls and dust them with cinnamon and sugar.  We got assorted paper plates of cookies from church bake sales and I always liked about two or three of the twenty random cookies and found the greasy paper plate vaguely disgusting.  My uncle always gave me a $50 gift certificate to Dillard’s.  I thought it was the most posh gift EVER.  We saw movies after we opened gifts—things like Little Women, Titanic and Hook.  We listened to Nat King Cole’s Christmas and put up the tree—except for the year I turned 15 and made everyone listen to Nirvana Unplugged, which I’d still probably do except that now we have Phil Spector’s Christmas, and there’s really nothing better.

We had a very relaxed Christmas.  Blame it on the wedding looming on our horizon—our smoking pocket books and anxiety-tinged dreams (dear subconscious: I would never, ever, ever buy a floral-print gown with a smocked high waist and bell-sleeves.  I just wouldn’t, so please stop telling my sleepy brain it’s only hours before I have to stand in front of 70 people and confess my love publicly while wearing such a thing).

This year we had a friend for a lazy, sodium-rich breakfast casserole (I used fake bacon and Morning Star sausages—yummy, salty delicious).  Then we sat around and watched America’s Funniest Home Videos on Netflix.  I made a mobile from feathers and felt, and we practiced wedding decoration ideas to make sure they’ll work for the big day.

The next day we took a long walk around the city and we ate and ate and ate—breakfast sandwiches from scratch (“Just like McDonalds,” as Moses requested, “but homemade and healthier.”), margarita pizza with a semolina flour crust and peanut butter and chocolate cookies.

We spent Christmas Eve with a few friends who all had children, so we got to get all the fun and excitement of Christmas for kids (and a free, delicious meal courtesy of Miss Kelli and the always-darling Liam).

Rion and Mandy came to visit!

And Kitty got a bowl of treats, Moses got a fancy razor, and I got a ring—another one, but it hasn’t arrived juuuuust yet.

And the most amazing little Christmas family let us spend xmas eve with their little Sweet Pea.  You can’t tell here, but she has sparkly tights on.

Maple Almond Fig Scones. (Butter returns to my life in a big, chunky way)

Moses “The Champ” Ramirez (as he’s programmed himself into my phone) is in Joshua Tree for his bachelor party this weekend.  I had no idea, but apparently it’s customary for one to ask if “shrooms” will be involved in such an endeavor.  Not “mushrooms” or even “magic mushrooms,” but “shrooms.”  Call me a fat kid, but I hear “shroom” and all that comes to mind is the deep-fried cheese patty used to placate vegetarians at Shake Shack (placate me with breaded cheese any day).  It also seems astounding that people over the age of 25 should remain on such casual terms with a hallucinogenic fungus—but I read far less Hunter S. Thompson than most of the men in my life, so there you go.

Kitty Vivienne Ma Belle Bruges decided to wake me up and ask for maple almond and fig scones.  She did.  She rubbed up against my face and said “enough of this vegan butter crap, Jamie.  I want some of the real deal.”  I obliged, because I love her.

We had some coffee, a little juice and had a fig chopping party while listening to Phil Spector’s “A Christmas Gift to You,” (which is far less creepy than it sounds).  Once we loosely blended, patted out, cut, sprinkled and lightly brushed with egg yolk Kitty reminded me that she didn’t even like scones.  Instead she wanted wild caught Ahi, which she ate so fast the bowl ratted in it’s stand, and left me with 12 buttery scones.  I gave 4 to the neighbors.  Christine and Andy Pants had one, too.  That leaves 7, huh?  I guess I ate around 7, but to be fair, after 4 or so they all just seem like a big, delicious cookie or something.

Afterward our breakfast Christine, Pants and I walked to Boerum Hill and Brooklyn Heights where we tried on Steven Alan sweaters, discussed the old, chunky Rachel Comey heel, met some huskies (they can smell the Mojo snow dog on me, even when he’s all the way in Missouri) and admired some holiday confections in a window display.

I’m sure Moses had a great time in Joshua Tree, but Brooklyn was pretty cozy…

Scone Recipe:

Maple Almond and Fig Scones (yields 12)

2 cups all-purpose flour (I mix whole wheat and non-bleached)

1/4 cup raw turbinado sugar (brown works too)

¼ cup natural maple syrup

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter coarsely chopped

1 cup dried figs (chopped into small pieces with scissors, careful to remove the hard stems)

1/2 cup of almonds (chopped into course pieces about the size of a pea)

1 egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy cream, cold

For Topping:

1 egg and a bit of sugar for topping

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.  Chop almonds and figs and gently mix to distribute among dry ingredients.

 

With a stand mixer or using your guns, combine maple syrup, 1 egg and cream until egg is incorporated evenly.

 

Add chopped, cold pieces of butter to your DRY ingredients and quickly give them a toss to distribute (careful not to touch the butter TOO much, you want it to stay cold and intact).

 

Pour wet ingredients OVER the butter, fig/almond and flour mixture and loosely mix together with your hands.

 

Once you’ve created a buttery meal (you should still be able to see chunks of butter), turn out your chunky “paste” onto parchment paper or a clean counter top.  Create a little “wall” of dough, about the length and width of your forearm and about an inch and a half or two high.  Take a sharp, dry knife and cut the “wall” into diagonals (like slices of pie that fit together as a puzzle).

 

Separate the triangles out onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 until they’re lightly browned, then remove for a second to brush each scone with 1 egg beaten and a light fist full of turbinado sugar, then replace them in the oven for another 5 minutes until egg crisps a little, sugar melts and you can’t take it anymore.

Let them cool for about 10 minutes.

Note:  I hated scone-making for a long time because, despite this clearly being a kind of British country, tea-party (ie: fun) food, I worked with baker that was super weird about how much they were handled and how precisely they were cut.  Fun fact, I like mine a lot better than I liked hers and I’m pretty sure my blood pressure is WAY lower.  I’d much rather eat them when they look browned and rustic—uniform scones make me think of Starbucks and freak me out.

It’s never fun to make anything if you do it in fear.  Your butter should be cold, not your sweat, and nobody wants a scone Reich.  If your hands melt the butter, so what?  It will still taste awesome, and then you’ll make them a little better the next time.