I went to the laundromat on Friday afternoon.
As I was loading my clothes into the dryers, I heard someone say behind me, “Yep, gotta get this done before tomorrow.” I turned to face a heavy-set woman, dressed in colorful patterned scrubs, who looked at me sideways from the pile in her laundry basket, and continued “We gotta be ready for the storm.”
“Yeah, it’s on its way,” I said.
Laundry is not really high on my list of things to get done before a potentially threatening hurricane barrels into the neighborhood, but it happened to be my weekend to get it done. It also was the weekend of our usual monthly run to stock up at Costco, but I called my husband that afternoon to beg off that task considering the chaos we would likely encounter. Instead, I battled it out at the smaller grocery near our house to get a few things to hold us through the weekend. I wasn’t sure what to expect, this being my first hurricane, but Long Island has a tendency to flood even when it drizzles, so I wanted to be prepared at least with enough to eat while we waited out the worst of Hurricane Irene.
As I continued to throw towels and sheets into the dryer, the woman said, “I’ve been through hurricanes before. I was down in Florida for Katrina. I was out of power for 43 days.”
“Really?” I said. I wasn’t sure if I had bought enough food to last me that long.
“Yep, so I’m a planner. I was cooking all day this morning,” she said with a tired sigh as she leaned against the washer she had just loaded and started.
Now that’s a good way to draw me into conversation. “Oh, what did you cook?” I asked.
“All sorts of things,” she said. “I like cooking. It’s like therapy to me.”
I smiled and listened to the rest of this woman’s life story. She told me how she volunteered in the kitchen at the shelter in Florida during the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina. She told me how her mailbox got blown off its post in that storm and how she couldn’t find it anywhere until one day she came home from work and found some courteous person had taken the time to track down the house number to which it belonged and bring it back. She told me how she sent her son to stay with a friend in the next town over this weekend so that he could be closer to his grandmother in case she needed help as Hurricane Irene approached.
And I added her story to the many that demonstrate just how powerful a community can be in face of crisis. People are resilient, but often the hope we live on is provided by those around us. And I think what this woman’s pride in telling her story showed me was that while it is powerful to be lifted up by a community, it is just as powerful to be a part of the community that is doing the lifting.
I recently learned about a new movement in the blogging world, called Bloggers without Borders, a non-profit organization designed to be a platform for fundraising campaigns on the web, using blogs and social media networks. It’s like community organizing in the digital world. I have been so impressed by the endless creativity involved in its fundraising campaigns so far. Right now there are over 75 items, such as a lesson in food photography from a renowned food blogger, a custom blog design by a tech-savvy web designer, or homemade cookies, jams, and pies delivered to your doorstep, being auctioned to raise money for #afundforjennie, a project whose proceeds go to support a fellow blogger who recently lost her husband.
I think this is such an interesting extension of the statement, “cooking is like therapy for me.” Sure, I think there is something therapeutic in the routine process of chopping and mixing and boiling, but beyond that, perhaps the therapy comes from the fact that cooking involves you in a community — the community of those for whom you are cooking. Interestingly, for food bloggers, that community is the world.
I baked these lemon raspberry scones yesterday morning, as we were bracing the impact of Hurricane Irene. I wanted to make these in part to add to the stock pile of food that was meant to sustain us — and maybe the neighbors if need be — through a power outage, but also in part because I couldn’t get the itch to bake them out of my system since seeing the recipe posted on Orangette. (When I read Molly’s post on her experience as writer, I had a moment where I felt that I was the one being uplifted by this wonderful community of bloggers.)
So yes, during my last minute run to the store on Friday, while everyone else was cleaning out the shelves of granola bars, canned tuna, and gallons of water, I was buying a container of fresh raspberries with just these scones in mind, since it seems a hurricane is no match for a batch of scones, at least not if food bloggers have anything to say about it.
I have finally branched out from my standard scone method, though I still decided to use frozen butter and shred it on my box grater instead of cutting it into cubes. I think this is still a great way to work the butter into the dough, even a sticky dough such as this one, which definitely yielded a much more cake-like scone. They kind of have the shape and consistency muffins tops, which is so totally fine by me!
Lemon Raspberry Scones
adapted from Molly Wizenberg at Orangette
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons salt
zest of 1 lemon
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1 ¾ cups whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
5 teasppons turbinado sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or line cookie sheets with aluminum foil, then butter and lightly dust with flour, as I did here)
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Shred butter on the large holes of a box grater, then incorporate into flour mixture.
Combine milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Add flour and butter mixture to wet ingredients, stirring until combined into thick, sticky dough. Stir in oats, then gently fold in raspberries.
Scoop dough using a 1/3-cup measuring cup onto lined baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart. Sprinkle tops with additional oats and turbinado sugar. Bake for 24-27 minutes, until tops are firm and golden.
Thankfully, we have not had many problems due to Hurricane Irene in my neighborhood. My heart goes out to everyone who was not able to make a nice, hot breakfast as we did this morning, after sleeping with the bedside lamp on all night just so we would know whether or not the power went out. I haven’t ventured very far from my street to survey the complete damage, but we haven’t had any power disruptions or flooding, and the wind damage seems to be confined to leaves blowing in the streets and all over my garden. They are still blowing pretty furiously out there. I will have to do damage control in my garden tomorrow after the wind dies down a bit more. My friends in the next town over are out of power, and there seems to be some flooding in low-lying areas on Long Island. I’m sure there will be headaches with traffic and public transportation tomorrow. Would anyone like a scone for their morning commute?