“It is a vulgar error to suppose that you have tasted huckleberries who never plucked them.”
—  Henry David Thoreau, Walden

In Washington we have an abundance of blackberries rather than huckleberries.

“The fruits do not yield their true flavor to the purchasers of them.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

How poor Thoreau would find me, a city dweller, who procures virtually all of my food from supermarket shelves.  And while our neighborhood farmers’ markets give us access to locally grown food, we simply buy it with our coins.  How rarely do we plant, nurture, harvest and preserve our own food.  According to Thoreau, we are missing out on the true flavor of food when we do not grow or pick it with our own hands.

Having grown up on a farm, I still hold a deep appreciation for the hard work that goes into bringing food to the table.  I’ve butchered chickens, so I understand the life that was once vibrant in my packaged chicken quarters.  I’ve milked a cow by hand, so I remember the source of my glass of milk.  I’ve made my own blackberry jam from hand-picked berries, so I can appreciate the work behind a jar received as a gift.

Snapshot of me milking our family's cow in 1972, forty years ago!

Much is lost when we forego laboring with our own hands, for the value of the work is not just the finished product, but also the feelings of artistry, productivity, and self-worth built along the way.  And it is true that we savor the end product more when we’ve created it ourselves.

One of my colleagues gives our library staff jars of her homemade blackberry jam each Christmas, and each spoonful bursts with the tastes of summer and Shirley’s shared joy in nature’s abundance.  Everything that is in a jar of Shirley’s jam is what Thoreau is alluding to in this week’s quote.

Shirley's jam on breakfast scones

Homemade jam from hand-picked blackberries

Sweet goodness

“The advantage of riches remains with him who procured them, not with the heir.  When I go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands.  But not only health, but education is in the work.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oatmeal Scones

February 6, 2010

I tell myself that these scones are as healthy as they are delicious!  The recipe is from Pasta & Co. By Request:  Coveted Recipes from Seattle’s Leading Take-Out Foodshop by Marcella Rosene.  I’ll post it here for you.

Ingredients for oatmeal scones


I simply drop the dough onto the baking sheet


A perfect breakfast: warm scone, yogurt with fruit & nuts, coffee


Pasta & Co.’s Downtown Oatmeal Scones

2/3 c dried sour cherries (I used dried craisins)
2 dried apricot halves, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 c buttermilk
1 egg
1 c oatmeal
1 c plus 3 Tbsp flour
2-1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Soak cherries and apricots in hot tap water for 15 minutes.

While fruit soaks, place buttermilk and egg in mixing bowl.  Without stirring mixture at all, add oatmeal and let soak for 10 minutes.

Drain fruit and add to buttermilk mixture.  Do not stir.

Place flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and butter in a food processor bowl equipped with a steel blade.  Process until very well blended.

Using a circular motion, gently fold flour mixture into buttermilk mixture.  Do not overstir.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and pat it into a round about 1 inch thick.  The dough will be very sticky.  Do not add flour, and do not knead.  Lightly flour a knife to keep it from sticking to the dough, and cut into 6 equal wedges.  Place wedges on ungreased cookie sheet.  (I just drop dough into six wedges on cookie sheet instead of patting into a round first.)

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes on the middle or top shelf of the oven.  Check, and if necessary continue baking another 4 minutes until golden brown.