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What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Springing forward with strawberry orange tea scones

Cal Orey
Special to the Tribune

Welcome to spring, a time of sprouting and new growth. In late March, cooking and baking foods take a turn for a lighter touch. In the Sierra it’s still chilly in the mornings, late afternoons, and nights, so fresh scones and healing tea aren’t off the menu. I am a devout fan of the fruit scone — a cake-like quickie bread. For the first time, I used a light cake flour and seasonal sweet strawberries. Fresh and warm berry scones, with a cup of calming and energizing hot tea is comfort food and drink at its best, a fine introduction to the new season.

When baking scones this week it took me back to 1999, the spring when I left the Bay Area and paid a visit to the South Shore. I was on a mission to find a new home. While discovering the new environment, it was the novelty that had me at first sight. I recall the beauty of the towering pine trees, blue lake, surrounded by mountains capped with snow. The colder air and feel of a new and less congested lifestyle was just the switch I needed, kind of like changing of seasons.

On the hunt for the right dwelling was a challenge during this trip. I stayed at one of our resort hotels. While I missed my fur kids (cozy at home with a pet sitter), I was comforted by nature. Awakening in the Sierra the first morning was foreshadow, like the first day of spring. It was inevitable: South Shore was going to be a part of my future. In hindsight, I feel the trip would have been more comforting if room service included sweet scones and herbal tea but I ordered waffles and coffee. But this week, almost 15 years later, I savored a fresh fruit scone baked from scratch paired with a cup of green tea (loose leaf and brewed) and raw honey. It was nature’s sweet foods that took me back in time to my first spring at Tahoe — and it was an unforgettable season for change.

Strawberry Orange Tea Scones

2 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup granulated sugar

5 tablespoons European style butter (cold cubes)

1 organic egg

2/3 half-and-half

1 teaspoon honey vanilla Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons brewed orange pekoe tea

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons fresh orange rind, grated

¾-1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped

½ cup hazelnuts, chopped

Raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and sugar. Add chunks of butter. In another bowl, combine egg, half-and-half, yogurt, tea, and vanilla and stir till mixed. Add rind, berries and nuts. Put into lightly greased round baking dish (I used my favorite tart dish for a rustic look. Bake till golden brown, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar. Cool. Cut in triangle shapes like a pizza. Makes approximately 12. Serve with honey or cream cheese. (For a special touch, make an orange glaze. Mix confectioners’ sugar with a bit of fresh orange juice and orange rind. Drizzle on tops of scones.)

As a scone buff I can honestly tell you these light scones were enjoyed from the first to last bite — and after baking a batch the kitchen smelled like cotton candy. The layers of flavor—sweet, juicy strawberries, soft nuts, the tang of orange, and rich buttery taste were a fine treat for the first day of Spring. Two cups of green tea (I prefer chamomile or black but I’m expanding my tea collection) gave me the jumpstart to begin the new day, the new season. And I was smitten by starting out the morning with a scone, tea, and the new sound of chirping from a sole bird on the first day of spring.

Motto: Change is exciting, whether it is locale, seasons, or foods. Rather than take a quick plunge, it’s less intense if you make the switch by taking baby steps.

Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.


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