Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Very Restrictive Sweet Potato Scones - A Freedom Story

It occurred to me a few years ago that everything I cook or bake has a story to it - a reason for being.  After discovering and being let down by books written for food allergics in mind, for 10 years I opened, looked at or yearned for not a one.  Instead, I purchased and sought out cookbooks whose tastes I thought we might enjoy, and then changed the recipe to be "free of".  While the words "free of" should be in a sense, liberating, they are anything but.  They are words that are restrictive, exclusive, and difficult.  Thus, the title of this blog post...

NOTE:  (Saying "Just don't eat it..." to someone who has a food allergy is like saying, oh, yeah, that's a gun, just don't touch it you'll be fine.  As a matter of fact, let's just pretend it isn't in the center of the room, loaded and spinning like that, hmm?  Would you like some, er, water?)

Which brings me to scones.  As someone who ate wheat products for 30 some odd years, scones were never my favorite baked good, so they were rarely sought out.  I was from Colorado and we didn't have many English bakeries.  I believe my first scone was eaten while I was with my friend Shelly, who later changed her spelling to Shellie, at an English shop in Cherry Creek.  The dryness of it was a bit overwhelming, but was helped a bit by a spot of tea.  The not very sweet, kind of savory, crumbly lumpy thing never made it to my short list of baked goods.

The idea of a pumpkin scone came to me after reading a recipe for sweet potato scones.  It also came after some research into pumpkin and what a fabulous source of iron and fiber it is.  I had a can of pumpkin so I decided to try my hand at making a batch.  (Trust me, we'll get to the sweet potato scone story soon enough, just follow along...).  As with anything, the first batch was lacking, but I dutifully wrote down what I did, as always, and there the recipe sat for a few years to be made only a few times per year.  I almost always used canned pumpkin, which worked fine, but the flavour was always a bit bland.  Until today.

I'm not sure what it was about today.  Possibly it started with the winter sun being a bit unforgiving to a clear blue sky.  Or the wind that beat temperature and branches outside my window.  Or the trees' refusal to let go of yellow brown pods that will feed the wild parrots this winter.

More than likely it was the left over sweet potato in my fridge begging for a reason not to be thrown in the trash.

Taking the quite large sweet potato out of the fridge, peeling and mashing it, I figured it was about a can of pumpkin or sweet potato.  Adding cardamom, ginger and cinnamon as well as a bit more sugar than usual, to the gluten free flour blend and one of my favorite egg replacers, and voila.  There they were, the most beautiful scones ever.  The outside was beautifully hard and carmelized, the inside lovely and cake like.  Oh, I guess I must not have mentioned that I don't like a crumbly scone.  I think I ate three.  The kid had two, I think, I'm not sure.

Ah - now for the the freedom part of the story.  Some time after making the scones I walked into our newly remodeled neighborhood boulangerie the "Lopez Cafe" on 5th avenue between 18th and 19th where I ordered a small coffee, black, with a bit of sugar.  Despite the amazing smell of bread and the beautiful overwhelming baked goods on display, I didn't even feel a twinge of jealousy, because I had already eaten the most wonderful scones in the world.  Those very restrictive sweet potato scones had indeed freed me from fresh baked gluten jealousy.

If you ever find yourself with leftover sweet potato, I highly recommend making a scone, very restrictive or not, you won't be disappointed.

© 2009 by Heidi Bayer.  All Rights Reserved.  Photo credit:  Heidi Bayer

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