November arrived in a hurry. It seeped through the cracks in the wide floor boards, through the drafty window panes, and in between the field stone foundation. It quickly took up the spaces where October once stood, and replaced it with its cooler air and darker shadows. I lit more candles and put the heavy winter quilt on the bed. I have consumed more tea in the past few days than is socially acceptable – however, I think that all stemmed from our latest workshop. More on that later.
The sun began setting earlier and earlier, the evening glow beginning now right after lunch time it seems. I think this time of year can be hard for many people, as they begin and end their work days in the dark. November has always been one of my favorite months – perhaps my most favorite. I probably say that about every month, but you know how I love the shadows. I even try to love the dark mornings, when 5am wakes me by moonlight as I fumble around our lightless bedroom, picking any piece of remotely warm clothing up off the floor and silently throwing it on before I wake my husband or the dog. Lighting candles in the early morning, putting on the kettle and sipping strong, milky tea before the world seems to be awake. Yes, I love it.
This month will always hold a special place in my heart for personal reasons - it was the month that my husband and I had our very first date, and it will also be the month that we celebrate our marriage with our dearest friends and family. This time of year always brings back that rush of feelings I had four years ago, mentally preparing myself for a first date with a man I already knew was supposed to be my husband. Its probably the most cliché feeling I have ever had in my life (and that is saying a lot – I am obviously a hopeless romantic and have been dreaming about “the man” since I was in preschool) but I can without a doubt tell you that the first time I saw Phil, my world stopped. The searching, the wondering, the worrying and the praying. He instantly filled this part of me that always felt incomplete.
On Saturday Phil and I will greet our families at an old estate, put on our fancy clothes and say our vows in front of our loved ones who missed them the first time. We will have a couple of cocktails and some yummy bites, have our first dance and boogie the rest of the night away. Even though we have already been married for over a year, I am so glad we are doing this part of it, too. I want to tell the world how much I love the man who sits next to me on the couch every night, the man who never lets me think negative thoughts, the man who loves going for rainy morning drives and hates the taste of mint, the man who always waves at the front door when I leave in the morning and is whole heartedly dedicated to each person he knows. The man who loves the shadows just as much as I do.
I made this “breakfast sandwich”, or brunch sandwich or lunch sandwich – dinner or dessert sandwich - as a nod to an awesome biscuit breakfast sandwich Phil and I had while we were visiting Nashville this past summer at the Barista Parlor. Their version was on a southern biscuit with strawberry jam and a breakfast sausage – so dang good. I brought my version to New England, and dressed it up for the fall holidays. The scone is a savory one, which lets the sweet and tart flavors of the cranberries and apples jive really well with the salty pork. I put a dash of maple vinegar in the scones, which added a nice undertone while not turning the scones sweet. The vinegar was a really lovely gift from one of our amazing Canadian attendees at our last workshop – thank you Jess!
If I were trying to plump up for hibernation season, this is what I would eat all day. But instead I am trying to fit in to a reception dress by Saturday...so I only had a bite. After the photos and the dancing and the high heels and the cocktails are over this weekend, I will be making these again. And eating more. So many more.
• for the scones •
makes 6 scones
• 2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ¼ cup cold unsalted butter (½ stick) cut in to small chunks
• 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
• 1 tablespoon maple vinegar (you can either omit this, use just maple syrup, or any other vinegar you may have – such as apple cider vinegar. I just enjoy the tartness that it brings to the scones, while still adding a hint of maple flavor.)
• ¾ cup buttermilk
Preheat your oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put aside.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
Incorporate the butter in to the flour mixture, using your fingers to break up the butter until it is about pea sized.
Add in the thyme, the maple vinegar and the buttermilk. Stir, being sure to mix in all of the flour, but do not over mix because we want the butter to stay cold, and in small pieces.
Turn out your dough on to a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball, then pat it out so its in a round disk, about 1 inch thick.
Using a biscuit cutter, stamp out as many rounds as you can get from your first disk. Place your cut scones on your parchment covered baking sheet, and gather your scone dough scraps. Roll in to another disk and stamp out more rounds. Repeat until all of your dough has been used. Mine made 6 scones.
Brush your scones with some buttermilk and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown and puffed up.
• for the cranberry cinnamon jelly •
makes about 2 cups
• 1 bag of cranberries
• ½ cup apple cider
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 whole cinnamon stick
• 1 cup sugar
Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.
Once the cranberries have all burst and released their juices, about fifteen minutes, remove from the heat and let sit at room temperature for about twenty minutes to thicken. Remove cinnamon stick and ladle the cranberry jelly in to glass containers. Jelly is good in the fridge for about a month.
• for the sandwich •
makes one sandwich - you will want to double, triple or quadruple this serving size - depending on your love of pork...
• one scone, cut in half horizontally so you have a top and a bottom for your sandwich (heat it briefly if you want a warm sandwich!)
• 2 tablespoons of cranberry jelly
• 3-4 thin slices of apple (I used Black Oxford apples which are very crisp, but any crunchy and tart apple would work)
• 2-3 thin slices of pork belly
Spread the jelly on each side of the scone, then layer the apple and the pork belly. Top with the other half of the scone and try not to eat in one bite!
listening to: Time After Time by Frank Sinatra