Friday, July 06, 2007

Scones and things

I was born on the fourth of July, or as I suppose Americans think of it, the Fourth of July. Thank you, kind commenters, for your greetings. I think it’s a good day to be born. It’s not only that citizens of the USA celebrate it with gratifying enthusiasm; it’s also pretty nicely situated between Christmasses, so one has built up a list of wanted gift items in case anyone asks. And they did, as you see from the above haul. And also it falls in the college holidays and the second week of Wimbledon, and a birthday is a good excuse to sit and watch tennis, though this year it kept raining in London and there wasn’t much play.

Some of my cards had a certain feline theme, as you may notice.

I don’t think I’m very talented as a cat trainer. The only aspect of their behaviour we’re really attempting to change is to stop them walking on tables. Either they don’t understand or – and I rather favour this interpretation – they don’t care. My cat book says that we’re supposed to tap them on the nose when they do something undesirable, but this seems mean. Their noses are very small. So we’re trying finger-waggling instead. Promisingly, they don’t really like having fingers waggled at them.
They react slightly differently to this nasty gesture. Cassie looks aghast and collapses submissively on her side, thus revealing the extreme fluffiness of her tummy. Then I go “Oh, fluffy girl!” and tickle her tummy, and she purrs. Sirius, on the other hand, just stares at me with reproach and freezes. I then pick him up, he starts purring loudly and I give him a cuddle.

Somehow this disciplinary measure doesn’t seem to be working. How did we manage to bring up three law-abiding children? And how do I succeed in keeping the attention of lots of young people in the course of my job?

Yummers asked for a scone recipe, so here it is. I’d like to point out that this is pronounced with a short “o”, as in “hot” (think Scottish accents here, Joni). (Some?) English people pronounce it with a long “o”, as in “hope”. But these are Scottish scones. I’ve tried to translate the recipe into cup measures as much as I could, though how to measure butter in cups is somewhat beyond me. Or indeed why anyone would want to. Also, I never remember American flour names. I think “all-purpose flour” is what we call plain flour, but I don’t know what self-raising flour would be. Anyway, as the name suggests, it’s flour with some raising agent in it – about the same as you’d use for cakes.
I don’t do metric. But if anyone cares, there are 14 ounces in a pound, and a kilo is 2.2 pounds or something.
So, in ounces and things:
8 oz self-raising flour
2 oz margarine or butter
milk to mix – around ¼ pint
egg to glaze, or just use milk (it’s almost as good).
1 and a half cups self-raising flour
¼ cup butter or margarine
milk to mix – around ¾ cup
egg or milk to glaze
Chop butter into pieces and rub into flour with fingers – or use a mixer/ food processor– till the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs. Then add milk until the mix is combined, but not too wet and sticky. You need to be able to roll it out on a floured board to a thickness of about… oh, I don’t know… an inch? … and then cut it into rounds with a scone cutter or biscuit cutter or if all else fails, a cup. Well, obviously you could make squares if you want.
Squash up the remains, roll it out again and repeat the process of cutting.
Glaze the scones in milk/egg, put on a greased baking tray and bake for about 7-10 minutes in a hot oven, maybe 450 F or 250 C, gas mark 8. Eat with butter/jam/honey/whatever. You could add various things to the mix, eg a handful of sultanas or raisins or a cup of grated cheese.
Hope this works transatlantically. Happy afternoon tea!


  1. Happy birthday Isabelle.

    If you do manage to train those cats, I can see a whole new future for you as a cat trainer. People will clamour for advice.

  2. Cat trainer??

    Aim high Isabelle ... don't settle for anything less than the best you can do ...

    The circus beckons .... the lions await their mistress .....

  3. Isabelle, I feel sad that I missed your birthday. Happy birthday!! I'll remember next year.

    Did your pkg get there yet?? It's been 2 weeks. Is that typical?

    Thank you so much for the 'scone recipe'. My husband said he'll make them tomorrow... he's such a good cook. I lOVE scones, but the recipes he's tried (Americanized) haven't been right. I loved them when we were in the UK, but he hasn't been able to duplicate them.

    I think I need to get some kittens to increase my blog viewers & comments. Did you ever think you'd be having cats on your table?

    Ahhh... music to my ears. My husband's calling, "Dinner's ready".

  4. Happy birthday! I hope it was a lovely day.

    Thank you for posting the scone recipe; it looks like a "must try". In fact, now that it's the weekend, there's no time like the present.

    Training cats is nothing to sneer at. EDS had an advertisement along those lines years ago:

  5. No, Yummers, I'm sure Isabelle never thought she'd be having cats on her table! She probably figured she was done with that part of life after her children were born...
    Will have to drag out my scone recipe and compare!

  6. Anonymous5:32 am

    Happy birthday!!
    I didn't know that Sassanachs (did I spell that correctly?) pronounce "scone" all funny-like! NZers and Australians pronounce it the Scottish way. We like a good scone here. Hot with melty butter. Or cold with jam and whipped cream.

  7. Hmmm, I can see who the bosses of YOUR house are.

  8. Hey Isabelle,
    A scone (short o)recipe from Australia!
    4 cups SR flour, 300mls cream, 300 mils milk, 1 teaspoon sugar, pinch salt.
    Add liquid to dry ingredients to a make a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured board and pat out to a thichness of about 2.5cm (2 inch) Bake at 200 degrees celsious for 12-15 minutes.
    This recipe is from The Country Women's Association and used to make their scones for cream teas at the Toyal Melbouren Show.Delicious. They also suggest 1 tablespoon of cornflour added to each cup of SR flour for even lighter scones.
    Another one is 3 cups of SR four, 1 cup of cream, 1 cup of lemonade. Proceed as above. This is a very soft scone dough, but light and delicious.

    Loving what I am reading on your blog so far.
    I wonder did you get my thank you for your encouragement for my first time blog?!

  9. Whoops, I have hit the wrong keys here and there. the 2 inch thickness should read 1 inch. I have no doubt that you worked it out anyway.

  10. Happy Birthday Isabelle! Sorry we missed it, but it looks like you had a very nice day. And what a wonderful day to call your birthday -- I love the 4th of July! ;-) Good luck keeping the kitties off the table. We haven't been very successful with Scruff -- we always shoo him away, but it doesn't seem to do much good for the next time!

  11. A very late happy birthday Isabelle!
    Remember that sketch with Dawn French as an animal trainer 'You can't train a cat you know, they're too independent!'
    Scones or scones, either or either,they sound delicious anyway!

  12. Kiwis & Aussies love their scones- prouounced the Scottish way!
    I can see who is going to rule in your house!

  13. Ha! You haven't figured out the cats' sinister plan yet, have you?

    Don't you know that the cats are in the process of training YOU?

  14. Visiting via Stomper. Definitely trying the scone recipe (thank you) for my English hubs. Happy Belated Birthday!

  15. Hi Isaabelle,
    I wouldn't haveliked Britain in al that rain, but we are not complaining as we have had years of dry winters and were beginning to think that it was never going to rain again. So, send it on down! Over Australia. Except the places that have suffered flood situations in NSW and Victoria.
    It is a strange world we live in, is it not? I hope you get to try all the scone recipes.

  16. Thanks for visiting my blog Isabelle. In answer to your question: pike - to quit or back out of something you said you would do.

    It's all too easy to be a piker where running is concerned. :-)