As autumn continues we find ourselves needing more inspiration in the kitchen. We are easily bored by the doldrum ideas that consume us during this time of year. The same baked goods we make on a daily basis. Each week. Each month. Throughout the year we find ourselves getting into a rut. One that we cannot seem to get out of until the arrival of the holidays. We end up growing tired of the boring recipes we make on a regular basis. And why shouldn’t we? After all we are creatures of habit and when something we make is good, we end up making it all the time until we get bored of it. Until those around us get bored of it. We need something different. Something new. Perhaps it is the spirit of the holidays that make us become so adventurous in the kitchen. The fact that our loved ones will all come together, and we want to impress them with our culinary skills. We look out to find new recipes that are a little bit fancier than what we are accustomed to. Recipes that are little more impressive and labor intensive. Yet we go into the unknown waters, so to speak, with caution and hesitation. We begin to question our skills as if not knowing what we are capable of. Yet we tread on with persistence because the idea of failing is much more inviting than the idea of not trying at all. Cooking and baking disasters are not things we should be ashamed of. Rather they should be looked upon as learning experiences. Situations that help us grow as cooks.
With the holidays fast approaching, we spend most of our time preparing for the big celebration. The grand dinner on the last Thursday of November. All of our attention goes to preparing the main event. We make a blueprint and plan out what we have to do and at what time we have to do it. Some of us are lucky, or perhaps just smarter, and we realize that we do not have to cook it all ourselves. So we divvy up the roles and assign different dishes to different friends and family. While everyone is so consumed on the turkey, the sides, the gravy and cranberry sauce, and the desserts some things are forgotten. Some things are left out. We become so invested in planning out the perfect meal and have become experts in mapping out the cooking and prepping times that go into it all, that one thing is neglected. The big day finally arrives and you begin your preparations before the sun even comes out. As the morning progresses and everyone starts waking up, you realize that you do not have time to make breakfast. That was one part of the day you did not plan out. The last thing you want to do, at this point, is go out and brave the supermarkets with all the other last minute and forgot-something shoppers. You do not want to deal with that madness or with the cranky cashiers who would much rather be home with their family and friends, enjoying the day relaxing instead of working.
You look around in your pantry and in the refrigerator and you cannot seem to think of anything. Mornings are usually brought to us by breads like coffee cake, bagels, english muffins, and scones. You go through all the different possible situations in your head. Just when cereal begins to look like your best bet, you think of an idea. Scones. Sure, you can make them. Scones are easy to put together. You have time for that. Look at your perfectly planned out schedule. You have time. You grab a few ingredients from the fridge and some from the pantry. Of course it is Thanksgiving morning and you do not want anything ordinary. You are still looking to impress. Still adventurous. Two ingredients stand out to you like beacons of light. Pumpkin and cranberries. Thankfully you stocked up on both for the big event. You mix the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and other autumnal spices, and combine the wet. Toss in the cranberries and mix in the pumpkin, stirring until just combined. Quickly and efficiently you put together the dough and shape it. You proceed to cut it into scone-like triangles, and bake them for about 20 minutes until the house is filled with the warmth smell of fall. Coffee peculating. Marveling at yourself for whipping up breakfast in a cinch, you cannot help but wonder, how you would have made Julia Child proud. Heck, you would even have made Martha Stewart proud with the cranberry and pumpkin addition. Okay that’s enough self-apprecition, you still have a long list of to-do’s to get done. So get back to work.