Tag Archives: tea

creative fuel

i love a trip to the city.  i mean the city.  toronto.

once or twice a year i have a work-related stay in TO.  when i’m there, my mission is to cram in as much walking, gawking and general city-imbibing as possible.  the chaos and crowds are both exhilarating and exhausting, and i find, for a short time anyways, that i am strangely soothed by the rhythm of urban life.  it couldn’t be more different from our home in the countryside, where trees outnumber people exponentially and heavy traffic means actually having to stop at the stop sign before turning.

one of the benefits of city excursions, apart from the fashion lessons, teashops and people-watching, is the improved access to all things crafty and the ability to refuel for my creative pursuits.  this trip allowed me to expand my stirandstitch stashes quite nicely (and to soothe IDS, who can get a little testy when left in the countryside for too long).

{crochet-fuel}     the yarn related highlight of this trip was my first ever visit to romni wools  – the epic toronto yarn store.  i don’t use the word epic flippantly here.  romni’s monstrous, bursting, teeming and towering collection of fibers is daunting to even the most yarn-starved shopper.  it was utterly overwhelming, but i managed to find some lovely, squishy goodies to take home, including some bright malabrigo sock and some nifty ‘braided’ cascade.


{sewing-fuel}     i discovered the workroom online and was instantly smitten.  they have a fabulous selection of contemporary fabrics and high quality notions, a friendly shop dog and a great calendar of sewing classes.  the timing of my trip worked out perfectly for me to take their three hour ‘serger essentials’ course – instruction i’ve been needing for years.  i came home with some new-found serger confidence and a set of rolled-hem napkins which we made in class.  i couldn’t resist a couple of pieces of lotta jansdotter fabric and three marvy patterns (including one for a sweet colette blouse) that i can’t wait to dig into.

{baking-fuel}     i have a cookbook addiction.  i could read cookbooks all day.  really.  this obsession has necessitated a moratorium on cookbook purchases (i also have a moratorium on tea mugs and flip-flops).  i had to allow myself an exception in toronto, though, for dorie greenspan’s ‘baking – from my home to yours’.  it’s been around for a while now, so it seemed less impulsive and more appropriate to add it to my collection (and really, what baker’s library is complete without it?).  i’ve been eagerly flipping the pages, wondering which recipe will be the first into my mixer.

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stirandstitch has refueled!  three days in toronto allowed me to absorb just enough urban sensibility to remain connected to city-life.  it also offered loads of tea, a little bit of chocolate and plenty of creative fuel for projects-to-be.  and it was just long enough, just windy enough and just lonely enough to make me (and even my testy IDS) feel happy to come home.

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creme fraiche {blueberry scones}

i wish you could smell my house right now.  buttery, floury, sugary, warm – the emanations of scones in the oven.  such a heavenly and comforting scent.  it makes even our mid-renovation kitchen feel glowy and wholesome and good.

instead of being at work today, my cough/cold germs and i are at home, filling the hours with the kind of non-demanding, pleasure-filled tasks that are normally reserved for weekends and evenings (one of the blessings of being sick, i suppose).  my wrists needed a break from crocheting, so my thoughts turned to baking (as they so often do).  i didn’t want anything overly sweet.  or chocolatey.  or involved.  then i remembered i had a tub of creme fraiche in the fridge.

creme fraiche is one of the many culinary treasures i encountered (and immediately loved – along with cream tea, egg and cress sandwiches, bakewell tarts, eccles cakes, greengrocers and ribena) when i lived in the UK.  i’ve been stumbling over recipe after recipe calling for it lately.  sadly, but understandably, it is one of those elusive ingredients that just isn’t stocked in a rural grocery store.  when i discovered it gracing the dairy shelf of the nearest ‘big city grocery store’, i was thrilled…until i got home and couldn’t find even one of those oh so promising sounding recipes.  does this ever happen to you?  it’s a common theme for me.  wonton wrappers, walnut oil, asafoetida, harissa paste and, most recently, creme fraiche – they all held such allure at the time of purchase, until i got them home and couldn’t think of one single thing to do with them.

so this afternoon i decided it was necessary to find a use for this tub of creme fraiche and came across a recipe that wooed me right away – the aforementioned blueberry scones.  i love a good scone and loathe a bad one.  even lashings of butter can’t rescue a dry and flavourless puck of a scone.  despite temptation, i didn’t mix in any lemon zest for zing or adorn their tops with coarse sugar – i just dutifully followed the rather plain sounding recipe, and i’m glad i did.  i think the creme fraiche gives these a deeper and more unique flavour than your standard cream or milk enriched scone.  an IDS approved scone would be thicker and shaped more tidily (i have only myself to blame for the sloppiness), but there is something quaint and pleasing about these simple and flavourful little triangles – they are a perfectly lovely accompaniment to a spoonful of blueberry apple butter and a brit-worthy cuppa on a sniffly afternoon.  enjoy!

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blueberry scones (posted by ‘howchow’ on chowhound, 2007)

2 cups  all-purpose flour
1/4 cup  sugar
2 tsp  baking powder
1/2 tsp  salt
blueberries (no measure was given – i used about 3/4 cup frozen wild blueberries – thawed)
6 tbsp  cold butter, cut into pieces
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
7.5 oz  creme fraiche
1 1/2 tsp  vanilla

•stir flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. blend in butter until it resembles fine meal.  in a separate bowl whisk the egg + yolk, creme fraiche and vanilla together.  gently stir this and the blueberries into the flour mixture (i did the mixing of the butter into the flour and the wet into the dry in my stand mixer, much like when making pie crust).  the dough will be sticky and a little on the wet side.

•bring dough together on a well-floured surface (this is always a clean dish towel for me).  with floured hands, divide dough in half.  pat each half into a disc about 1/2″ thick/6″ in diameter (i would leave them a little thicker next time).  cut each disc into 6 pieces and place pieces 1″ apart on a cookie sheet (i always use parchment).  bake at 350°f for 25 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean (mine only needed 20 minutes).  serve warm or at room temperature.

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