A few days ago, Edmund found an e-mail in his inbox from Oikus, a company that sells trees. They were advertising 20 trees for 30 dollars. This was a great deal! Only certain trees qualified of course, but among them he found the hybur oak and the burr English oak. I remember Edmund talking about planting an edible forest more than 7 years ago. What a compelling idea! We have foregone some measure of ‘freedom’ by planting ourselves here on a farm for the foreseeable future, but we have also stepped into a commensurate freedom to actualize the dreams that have been tantalizing us for years. In this spirit, Edmund ordered 40 oaks today. We plan to plant them beyond the apple orchard, bringing the edge of the forest a bit closer. Hopefully in 20 years or so, they will litter the ground with their acorns and satisfy the mouths of man and beast alike.
In keeping with this theme, I thought I would post the Acorn Scone recipe that I have been baking lately (back by popular demand, i.e. Normandy). With any luck, you could come to our farm in 15 years and harvest enough acorns to make them yourself (or better yet, in the meantime, find a burr oak in your neighborhood and reap the benefits!).
Before I share this recipe, I must give credit to Garth and Edmund’s mom, Dorothy Brown, for having the wherewithal to realize that acorns were worth the energy. Every Fall she spends days harvesting gallons of acorns that have fallen from local burr oaks. Picking them up is the easy part. What follows is the process of working them into an edible meal. This involves smashing them with a hammer to break their shells, chopping up the good ‘meat’ inside and separating out the shell and any rotten parts, consecutive boilings that persuade them to release their tannins, grinding this boiled acorn mash, and finally spreading it on a baking sheet to dry it in a low oven. When this is accomplished she is left with a fragrant meal, which can be stored in jars for months. It is jealously guarded while in abundance and sorely missed when the stock is depleted. That said, Dorothy has been more than generous with her acorn meal. Having not harvested any acorns myself this last fall, her generosity is the only reason I have any acorn flour to bake with today.
-heralded, “Best Scones Ever!” by Normandy Alden.
¾ cup acorn meal *I grind the coarse meal in the spice grinder until it is very fine before measuring it.
1 ¼ cup whole -wheat flour **I used freshly ground flour but this shouldn’t matter much.
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp table salt
Zest of one lemon
Combine the dry ingredients (including lemon zest) and set aside.
8 T frozen butter, grated
Unwrap the top half of a stick of frozen butter. Hold the bottom half and grate it with a box grater until you have 4 tablespoons left in your hand. Repeat this with the second stick. When you have grated 8 T place the bowl of grated butter in the freezer until you are ready to mix the scones.
½ cup whole milk yogurt
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup whole milk
3 T. honey
Mix the wet ingredients together well.
Currants and toasted pecans come later (as many as you wish, or any other fruit or nut combination you fancy)
Remove the grated butter from the freezer. Toss the dry ingredients with the butter. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 6-8 times until it comes together. There is no need to over-do it. Generously flour the surface you are working on and the dough. Roll the dough into a roughly 15 x 15” square. Fold the bottom third up into the middle (having a dough scraper to assist in this process is very helpful) and fold the top third down. You will have made a rectangle. Fold the left third of the rectangle into the middle and fold the right third over these two. Flour your surface and the dough and roll it again into another 15 x 15” square. Press currants and toasted pecans into the dough. Begin at the bottom edge and roll the dough into a cylinder. It helps to encourage the dough to come away from the board with a dough scraper or sharp knife. Gently press and shape the dough into an elongated rectangle. Cut the dough into 5 smaller rectangles and then cut each rectangle on the diagonal. Slide these onto an ungreased baking sheet. Melt 2 T of butter and brush the tops of the scones. Bake for 18-25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring the scones to a rack. Eat at least one of them when it is still warm and have additional butter at the ready.