Hello from the City of Oaks! For those of you just joining us, that would be Raleigh, NC, our new home as of two weeks ago. On November 2, we pulled into our driveway at last, and at the request of our parents, John carried me across the threshold of our new house. It was a little awkward, both of us being rather stiff from the eight hour drive and sort of weighed down by a late lunch at Panera, but we rose to the occasion.
In some of the pictures we took, I look like I’m crying, but this was actually because I had just been laughing so hard it brought me to tears. John had predicted, midway through the trip, the EXACT time (5:28 p.m.!) that we would arrive at the house. How he did this I have no idea, but these kinds of small miracles seem to induce delirium in me, although that might have been a result of the extremely long drive. What? I come from New York City, where being in the car this long is not a normal way of life, unless you’re trying to get across town on Canal Street.
It was a week before the truck with all of our belongings would arrive. Getting by during that period with no furniture or cookware was an interesting challenge—kind of like camping, but in a house. One thing you should know about us is that we hate eating out day after day after day. On our honeymoon in Italy, we rented apartments on Airbnb so we would have use of the kitchen and could alternate nights going out for dinner with nights eating in. Some people say that this defeats the point of a relaxing honeymoon, but these people haven’t had our homemade caprese salad with fresh Italian buffalo mozzarella and peaches!
So, realizing we had neglected to pack a few cooking implements in the car with us when we moved, we bought a cheap pan at the grocery store—a little bit painful given how much nice cookware we’d just recently been given for the wedding, cookware that was heading towards us at that very moment, probably on I-95 somewhere in Maryland. In any case, our first dinner in our new home was a pretty decent meal of vegetable quesadillas, which we ate on paper plates while sitting on the floor of the living room, using life vests for pillows. Why did the life vests make it into the car but not, say, a pot or two? By way of an answer, I can only say that I can be a tad scatterbrained, and my husband really loves water sports. Make of that what you will.
Our furniture and other possessions finally arrived last weekend, and since then we have been busy making this place a home. It’s working! It actually looks like real adult people live here. The neighborhood is beautiful—a historic area of little bungalows along tree-lined streets. Our neighbors, some of whom have come out and introduced themselves, seem happy to have us. The other day, in the crock pot aisle at Target, the guy who installed our DirectTV recognized me and came over to say hello, asking how our TV service was working out. These kinds of things help a person to acclimate that much faster.
While we continue to set up shop here, arranging and rearranging the kitchen pretty much daily until it all feels right, the recipe I am about to share with you is in fact one from my final days in New York. These were days spent packing, of course, but also cooking a wide variety of dishes mainly consisting of items I hoped to use up in my fridge and pantry. Thus, this recipe came about when I surveyed my kitchen and found a surplus of flour and butter, a pint of heavy cream, sugar and eggs, and one lonely pear. Roasted pear scones! It’s good to remember that there are some joys in the fact that it’s no longer bikini season.
It was true that I had to trek to the store to buy two more pears, but I tell you it was worth it. The smell of pears roasting in your oven alone is worth it. But then—then! You pull apart that first cakey scone, and buttery, pear-perfumed steam billows out. You take a bite and the crusty exterior gives way to a softness inside, lightly sweet, filled with velvety warm pears. Close your eyes and it’s a small miracle: the recipe for instant home, wherever you happen to be.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3 firm pears (I used a combination of Anjou and Bartlett but any will do as long as they’re firm!)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus extra for sprinkling
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt plus additional for egg wash
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, 1 for dough, 1 for egg wash
Heat oven to 375°F. Cut pears into small chunks, about 1-inch square. Line a large baking sheet with waxed paper. Spread pear chunks out on baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until they are beginning to dry out and brown. Remove baking sheet from oven, and let pear chunks cool. Leave oven on.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add cooled pear chunks, butter, heavy cream, vanilla, and 1 egg. Beat the dough just until no dry ingredients are visible.
Line cooled baking tray (make sure it is entirely cooled) with waxed paper.
Flour your countertop. Dump dough onto counter and flatten to 1-inch thickness (the dough may be very sticky). Cut dough into about six wedges (a term applied loosely, as you’ll see in my photos) of equal width. Transfer to baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each wedge.
Whisk remaining egg in a small bowl with a teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt. Brush scones with egg wash. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake scones until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before eating.