June 30, 2013

On all things liminal and pale in hue

I took a drive a few days ago to the Marin Headlands to do some photographing. It’s an old, favorite place of mine. I had a studio in those parts for a year, three years ago.

When I drive out to the Headlands, especially when I am by myself, I have the distinct impression of visiting an old friend. I feel like I’ve gone back in time—like I get to, for a little while, repossess the self that I was when I used to drive there often. On Tuesday, I drove out to the Headlands because of the fog. Sitting in my office in San Francisco, watching the rain come down in short unconvincing bursts, I knew there would be clouds and thick fog just over the bridge. I left work early.

Sometimes you just have to do that.

June 07, 2013

Beautiful unpredictability

You don’t even really need me for this one—the photograph says it all. Deep pockets of roasted fruit; crispy-brown pastry edges; a thin, crackling crust of turbinado sugar.

That’s really most it.

What you can’t see: that this was my very first scone endeavor; that it was inspired by this book by Molly Wizenberg, and the recipe for Scottish Scones with Lemon and Ginger that can be found on page 174; that I made them in preparation for a visitor from afar; that they filled the whole house with the most incredible, subtle aroma of oranges and blackberries; that, as they baked, the half-and-half glaze and the generous sprinkling of turbinado sugar oozed and carmelized, releasing an intoxicating nutty scent into the air.

That’s the rest of it.

I’m going through a lot of changes in my life, as I have been for the past year or more. But what remains consistent is the beauty of the baked thing. It’s very simple, really. Sometimes, I feel like it hardly needs me at all. My efforts, yes, they are important, but it’s the alchemy of the process that I am most drawn to—it takes over, it is enchanting; it is, really, in so many ways, outside of my control. There’s a subtle comfort in that; a beautiful unpredictability.

For this recipe, I made a number of modifications. I loved the sound of lemon and ginger scones, but I eat something like this very regularly from a cafĂ© near work—I eat one of those ginger scones maybe weekly, even. They are delicious—spicy and warming. But now, they also remind me of my workweek.

In the original recipe, Molly notes that you can try these with berries in place of the crystallized ginger and lemon zest. She describes “jammy pockets of soft fruit.” That was all I needed to hear.