I’ve always been a ‘breakfast for dinner’ fan–especially since I got married and found that my husband prefers waffles and their ilk at dinnertime, not first thing in the morning–but lately I’ve been branching out a little. Pancakes, waffles, muffins, cornbread…these are all familiar staples at our house. I’ve done (and will likely continue to do!) a lot of variations on them, but we definitely have our favorites. Scones, however, are another thing. My mother made amazing scones when I was growing up, but they were of the deep-fried variety. She has a gift with yeast dough, and these were light and lovely and mouthwatering. I requested them for my birthday dinner for years, until my father came to me and pointed out that deep frying scones in July without air conditioning can be really unpleasant, and could I please pick something else and we’d have scones another time of year instead? (For the record, that never happened. I picked something else, yes, but to the best of my knowledge, we never had scones again. Ever. As a kid, this bugged me; as an adult with an anniversary in December, I am intimately acquainted with the difficulty of needing to pick an arbitrary day to celebrate something, because when you can pick any day, you just don’t end up picking any day at all.)
But I digress. I almost never deep fry at my house, but I’ve been experimenting with British scones when I’m desperate for dinner ideas, and that’s been kind of fun. We had one semi-disaster–they tasted ok, but the dough was like pudding and doing anything with it was ridiculous–but these incredible Apple Cheddar Scones were a huge hit with all of us, and last night’s Caramel Apple Scones were tasty as well. (Perhaps I should clarify. The scones themselves were tasty. The caramel sauce/frosting made me want to sing and dance and compose bad poetry.) I substituted maybe 2/3 cup of wheat flour and white flour for the rest, and I used evaporated milk instead of regular for the sauce, since I had some hanging out in the fridge from something-or-other, but other than that, I followed the recipe. (Okay, the apples were kind of dry in the pan and I added another half tablespoon of butter, but that probably has more to do with the dying state of my non-stick skillet than anything else.) It’s not really for the faint of heart where butter is concerned, but mmmm.
I also got to finish Paperboy last night, and it’s the first of this year’s Newberys to get a full five stars from me. I loved it! I even dealt just fine with the ‘no quotation marks at all’ style, which I usually object to, because it worked just fine with the character. I really liked all the characters involved (except for the one you’re really, really not supposed to like!), I loved the story and the different threads coming together, and I loved the main character’s voice. Which is the point, because he stutters, so the written word is the only place you get to hear his full voice. By the end of the book, I found myself horrified that the people around this boy only got to interact with him through speech, because he often chose not to speak, rather than trying and failing. (According to the author’s note, he stutters and always has, and this book is more autobiographical than not. Which explains its power, but it also leaves me worried. I want him to write more novels that are THIS GOOD, and what if the rest don’t resonate quite the same way? Way to borrow trouble, Self.) I also rather liked the fact that racism and segregation played a part in the plot, but weren’t the MAIN part. It needed to be that way for the story the author wanted to tell, and I find that hitting those kinds of issues sideways, instead of head on, can be just as powerful in a different way. You could argue that Paperboy makes that first novel mistake of too many story threads, but I don’t think so. Everything that happened was too plausible, too well-connected to the main premise. There were quite a few different things going on, but that was the point; the narrator takes over his friend’s paper route for the month of July, and it brings him out into the world, connecting with people, in a way his stutter has caused him to avoid thus far.
Anyway. I loved it. Go out and read it, folks. This one’s definitely worth your time.