Scones with Louise Dickinson Rich

May 14, 2011

I am almost one whole week late on this post and as such should be preparing humble pie, rather than much simpler and less metaphorical scones. Even worse, this post was intended to be Mother’s Day themed and my mother is my only official follower. I apologize for the inexcusable delay and promise to be much more prompt henceforth.

So! These lovely square scones are not of the British variety. They are sweetened with maple syrup, given texture with oats, and were eaten as an 11 o’clockish meal rather than at tea time. Now we all know that the best person to have for a Mother’s Day treat is of course ones own mother. Alas mine is many miles away, yet happily alive and not fictional, and consequently ineligible.

Louise Dickinson Rich was a mother of two, a step-mother of one, and for forty-seven years a single mother. She is most famous for writing We Took to the Woods, and rightly so. LDR is perhaps not as gifted with words as her famous ancestor, however her books offer a sweet and serious portrait of the rough northeast of Maine (I somehow doubt Emily would have survived as well in such a setting). She is no longer in print. Bobby and I discovered her opportunely in a show bookshelf at a wedding in which we knew no other guests.

LDR was not a very gourmet cook, but she made do. There were no restaurants near Forest Lodge in the 1940’s. Nowadays when we romanticize the simpler cooking of times past, we seem to forget that it involved a great deal of cans and jars. Here LDR serves her own family and four unexpected guests with an understocked larder:

“I fed them for three days, and ever since I have had implicit belief in the miracle of the loaves and fishes. We had pea soup, which is very filling. We had baked beans. I sent Gerrish fishing. You can never catch fish when you need them, but he did. We had trout and salmon. We had corn meal mush and molasses. The butter ran out, but we had johhny-cake and the last of the jam I had made the fall before. We had dandelion greens and fiddle-heads, those strange, furry fern fronds that taste something like asparagus and something like swamp water. You boil them and serve them with butter, if you have any butter. My two cans of corned beef made two meals. There are ways of stretching meat enough for three to feed seven, other than Divine multiplication. One can I cut up in cream sauce–a lot of cream sauce–and served on toast. The other I cut up with cold potato–a lot of potato–and browned into hash. The Parsons let me have three cans of tomatoes. One made tomato soup, one went into scalloped tomatoes with bread crumbs–lots of bread crumbs–and the last I strained for Rufus to drink, in lieu of orange juice. You can make one egg take the place of two in scrambled eggs by using too much milk and thickening it with flour. It’s not very good, but it’s something to eat.”

Well, anyone who can eat like that and not complain would certainly enjoy a scone or two with raspberry jam on a late Sunday morning.

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One Response to “Scones with Louise Dickinson Rich”

  1. Nancy Hale said

    By far your most amusing post. I look forward to our mother’s day tea upon your return, and have saved a jar of plum jam to put on your very tasty sounding scones.
    With love,
    Your Official Follower

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