I love my mom, but she was a terrible cook. It’s not really her fault – she grew up in a tiny town in New Hampshire, rather poor and practically in charge of parenting four siblings. That’s on top of going to school and working. She grew up on Salmon P. Wiggle (canned fish on top of saltines with a white sauce). Oatmeal. Maple “syrup” (water and sugar with maple extract). Canned peas, for cripes sake!
So it’s not surprising that this carried over into our home, where she was dealing with two kids and a very time-consuming teaching job. Creativity didn’t factor into her meals at all – though she did make sure we never, ever had to eat a canned vegetable (unless you count cream of mushroom soup). So, just about every week we had cube steak and mashed potatoes, tuna casserole (not too far from her mother’s Salmon P. Wiggle), some kind of oven-baked chicken and pork chops smothered in cream of something-or-other soup. On Sunday we might have London broil and broccoli with Velveeta. She only baked on birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I’m still not terribly certain she enjoyed it.
And then, in 1993, like Moses coming down the mountain, so came the Food Network.
She never quite got into Giada, but she did love Ina Garten. I’m not sure what it was that enraptured her so completely, but there it is. She had been pretty tentative about trying new recipes, and then she met these scones. I’m not sure what she loved more – the scones themselves, or the fact that we all loved them so much. When my dad gifted her a Kitchenaid one Christmas, it was on.
A few weeks ago I emailed my dad to see if he still had the mixer. He did have it, and he shipped it to me – along with every single attachment he could find (including things I still haven’t identified).
I am so in love. I’ve been coveting one of these for at least a decade, while making do with weak little hand mixers.
I cleaned it all off and set it up, and then got started on my first dish: Ina Garten’s cranberry-orange scones.
I savored every last second, from the measuring of ingredients to just watching the paddle spin to the feeling of the dough in my hands, reliving all those moments with my mom in the kitchen, even after she had to do it from her zippy power chair.
The dough is so lovely and sticky – and we will all just ignore the fact that it contains 3/4 of a pound of butter (after all, there is fruit).
Aren’t they gorgeous? (I just said that to you in my Ina Garten voice.) They are so flaky, and buttery, and they have the tiniest crust of sugar on top. You should make them. My mom would love to compare notes someday.