After reading my previous post, my Uncle Frank noted that I was the final woman in Washington to get a hair appointment before every salon switched off their lights. “We’ll be seeing a lot of gray roots out there pretty soon,” he said matter-of-factly. I believe this makes me the luckiest, and most hated woman in Washington state.
You might think there’s no point in laying down cash to get your roots retouched and then going directly into isolation. Freshly enhanced hair with no one to see it is like a tree falling in the forest – not true! Like Marlene Dietrich dressed to the nines to face a firing squad in Dishonored, I go down fighting. Recall Braveheart’s (now that was a good head of hair) rallying cry (okay, technically the virus can take our freedom, and possibly our lives, but never our will to appear younger than we are).
In these strange times, my mood fluctuates, depending on whether friends are texting me depressing statistics. Less CDC, more cute babies please. At times, I’m optimistic; today I ordered a bathing suit online! Perhaps a smidgeon too optimistic, since I only ordered bottoms. Apparently, I think I’m going to Spain. Then I had a mood swing and told my husband I wanted a litter of kittens, pronto, or a reversal of my tubal ligation.
I find I lack some survival skills – more on this next time – but I have this in my favor: I love to be home, baking. One of my efforts was Irish soda bread to celebrate Saint Patrick’s day, at my youngest’s request. My family of origin probably got our hair/skin/allergies from Scottish, not Irish, ancestry, but who cares? As Kent Brockman on The Simpsons said, it’s the day when everyone is a little bit Irish, except the gays and the Italians. My daughter was dying to celebrate, but was deflated when I classified our ethnicity as Celtic Pallid crossed with Pasty Anglo.*
This soda bread calls for a throw-back ingredient, candied orange peel. I’ve made this with orange zest before and it’s lovely but the preserved peel has extra “pow.” Combine that zing with the chocolate bits and this moist and crumbly mammoth scone will have you longing for what many of us now have: a life lived at home, waiting greedily by the oven. You’ll refuse to leave the kitchen, even after the governor lifts the restrictions.
I bought wheat berries so I can try out my mom’s flour mill. My parents used it when I was growing up and it’s so loud we all had to vacate the house when it was grinding and disgorging flour in six directions. Can’t wait to fire it up with my noise-sensitive daughters, histrionic cat, and husband trying to work from home.
Stay Home Soda Bread
Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2005
Makes 6 (consider doubling it)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks cut from a bar
3 ounces candied orange peel, diced (this often comes pre-diced)
5/8 cup buttermilk or runny, plain yogurt
Preheat oven to 350 F
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, butter the parchment. Whisk first five ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in chocolate and orange peel. Whisk buttermilk or yogurt and egg in medium bowl to blend; add to dry ingredients. Stir just until incorporated.
Turn dough onto floured work surface and knead gently, just until dough comes together – about five turns. Form dough into a round about 2 1/2 inches high. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut a 1 inch deep, 3 inch long slit in top of bread, forming asterisk pattern.
Bake bread until well browned and firm when pressed. Start with 25 minutes.
* “I hate being so white!” I told my husband. “Hate the privilege too?” he said. And now I hate him.