Many things count as comforting. For me it ranges from a tasty cup of coffee (and I am very picky) to reading books with titles like “Enquire Within About Everyting 1890” (with the dazzling remark printed on the cover: over one million copies sold). I am not kidding - I spent some lovely evenings leafing through it, stumbling across sensible advice as:
376. Beat a Carpet on the wrong side first; and then more gently on the right side. Beware of using sticks with sharp points, which may tear the carpet.
It may sound silly and obvious, but I completely understand the need for a book like this. Another one, just for the sake of it:
1792. Why does milk turn sour during thunderstorms? - Because, in an electric condition of the atmosphere, ozone is generated. Ozone is oxygen in a state of great intensity; and oxygen is a general acidifier of many organic substances. Milk may be prevented from becoming sour by boiling it, or bringing it nearly to boiling point, for, as the old proverb says, “Milk boiled is milk spoiled.” Heating the milk expels the oxygen.
Other times just watching an episode of one of my favourite tv series (or a newly discovered one) can be just the type of comfort I need.
One of my “guilty pleasures” when it comes to comfort reading is The Babysitter’s Club series. I really like the comic books by Raina Telgemeier released last year.
Sometimes, though, you actually have to get your hands dirty to satisfy your comfort-cravings. And as one of my ultimate comfort foods are scones: here’s a nice recipe that I have to try soon - they look so delicious!
Pumpkin & Date Scones
(from Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery)
3 cups (450g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarb/baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
120g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
200g chopped pitted dates (not medjool, they’re far too moist and sticky for this)
1 cup cold cooked mashed pumpkin (I used butternut)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper, then very lightly dust it with flour and set aside.
2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking/bicab soda and salt into a large bowl and use a balloon whisk to whisk it together. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips till the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir together the buttermilk and cooked cold mashed pumpkin and set aside for now.
3. Add the dates to the bowl and toss them through to coat them in the flour mixture, then make a well in the centre of the bowl and pour in the pumpkin/buttermilk mix. Stir it together till barely combined, then tip it onto a well-floured chopping board and lightly knead till the mixture comes together (not till the batter is smooth - just till it holds together and doesn’t have any unmixed bits).
4. Pat the dough into a round about 4cm thick, then dip a scone cutter (or glass tumbler) into some flour and stamp out your scone shapes. Alternately, you can cut the round into triangular wedges or pat it into a cylinder and just cut off rounds.
5. Carefully sit the scones closely together on the baking tray, using up all your dough (press the scraps together rather than kneading them). Either dust the tops with flour or give them a milk or egg wash, then bake for 20 minutes or till cooked through and golden. Once they’re done, remove them from the oven and wrap in a clean tea towel for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool.
6. Serve whilst warm with some salted butter, or store in an airtight container for up to three days. Cold scones can be reheated in a microwave or toaster oven to make them warm and soft again.