Let There Be Summer Scones!

Bonne soirée, readers! Hope you have all had a wonderful weekend... full of lazy mornings and charming afternoons with friends (and perhaps a beverage or two). 

Last week I had quite a hankering for scones so I set to some serious baking. I love using my mom's farmhouse bowl for these kind of baking projects-- cathartic AND nostalgic, what more could you want?

My favorite scone recipe is this one from Joy the Baker. Her Lavender Blackberry Scones are to die for. Though I usually find the blackberries make the dough too damp and swap them for blueberries. I also added a bit of lemon zest to the dough and to the egg wash. It adds another level of perkiness that compliments the lavender. If you're not keen to roll out a sticky dough, they also make excellent drop scones, no rolling or cutting required!

I also made some Pear Jam from pears I got from some lovely friends' tree.

It's been a few weeks, so let's have some...

Gems of the Internet

Welcome to my new favorite artist! Amrita Sher-Gil is known as India's Frida Kahlo for her capturing of both Europe on the cusp of modernity and India after decades of colonial rule. I really want a print of one of her paintings-- help me choose!

Science proves what we suspected all along! We are smarties!

Why our future depends on libraries... hear hear!

Mindy Kaling's guide to killer confidence


Gourmet Camp Cooking Recipe Roundup

Happy Tuesday, Beta Testers! This week we're tackling camping food, and I'm not talkin' weenies and sandwiches... so let's jump right in! 

For all of these recipes you will need either foil pans or a cast iron dutch oven (10"-12" with legs and lid), heavy-duty aluminum foil, cooking spray, insulated BBQ mitts, BBQ tongs, a charcoal chimney starter, and charcoal briquettes.

A note about the charcoal...

For each of these recipes, I suggest splitting the number of charcoal briquettes needed in half and heating them in the chimney in shifts. Here is a simple how-to for lighting charcoal! Once the first shift is lightly ashy, pour them out flat so that you can place the dutch oven over top. Then start the second set, which you will use on the top of the dutch oven. This method gets the bottom cooking first and keeps stuff from burning. Also remember that these are my estimates, and you may find you need more or less briquettes to cook, hence the frequent checking. 

Dutch Oven Pizza 

35 minutes total (5-10 to prep, 25-30 cooking)

20 briquettes on bottom, 12-15 on top

Apologies for the mood-lighting... our late-start (and sort of loosing our way on the trails) that afternoon meant we ate in the dark

Apologies for the mood-lighting... our late-start (and sort of loosing our way on the trails) that afternoon meant we ate in the dark

  • Pre-made pizza dough (I buy it from Trader Joe's, but you could get extra fancy and make some from scratch. I recommend the recipe in Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish)
  • Marinera sauce (also from TJ's)
  • Shredded mozzerella
  • Desired toppings (we chose canadian bacon and pineapple, I suggest cutting any veggies before you leave home to save on chopping time and cleanup)
  1. Line dutch oven with heavy-duty foil, spray foil with cooking spray
  2. Turn dough out into (clean) hands and begin to stretch it by holding the dough vertically and allowing gravity to pull it down. Move your hands around the outside of the dough until you have a disc close to the size of your dutch oven.
  3. Lay the dough into the dutch oven and push it to the edges with your fingers.
  4. Spread your sauce over the dough leaving a narrow boarder around the edges.
  5. Top your pizza with whatever you like, including plenty of cheese.
  6. Following the above instructions about charcoal, start cookin your pizza! I checked it at 10m, 20m, 25m and then it was done at 30minutes, however actual timing may vary-- again with the obsessive checking!

This pizza made a great first-night meal. We were tired from setting up camp and wandering around the campground and visitor area, but not starving. Paired with a cold Fremont Summer Ale and s'mores later around the fire it made for the perfect first night meal with easy cleanup to boot.

Our second evening boasted a much more elaborate meal as we were coming off a long, damp hike and needed some serious food. The menu was Lemon Tilapia with Roasted Veggies and Cornbread, and a mixed berry cobbler for dessert. Paired with a red wine to help warm us back up.

Cooking arrangement, cornbread in dutch oven, cobbler and tilapia w veggies in the foil pans

Cooking arrangement, cornbread in dutch oven, cobbler and tilapia w veggies in the foil pans

Tilapia with Roast Veggies

40 minutes (5 prep, 35 to cook)

  • Tilapia fillets (frozen from TJ's)
  • 1 Lemon (2 if you're doing several fillets)
  • Butter (about 1tbs per fillet)
  • S&P (and any other herbs/spices you fancy)
  • Veggies (we went with fingerling potatoes, baby carrots, and (sliced) mushrooms)
  • foil roasting pan
  1. Lay tilapia fillets in roasting pan and top with bits of butter, lemon slices and S&P
  2. Place veggies around and on top of the fillets
  3. Cover with heavy duty foil
  4. Place on grate over a good cooking fire
  5. Check every 5-7 minutes (rotating 1/4 turn when you check) until the fish flakes and the veggies are tender. Ours took about 35 minutes because potatoes are stubborn.

Cast Iron Cornbread

35 minutes total (5 prep, 30 cook)

20 briquettes on bottom, 10 on top

  • 1 1/4c milk
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 1/2 c medium-grind cornmeal
  • 1/2c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs sugar 
  • 1 egg
  1. Before you leave: mix dry ingredients in a plastic container to minimize work at the campsite
  2. Line dutch oven with foil and spray with cooking spray
  3. Melt butter in saucepan over pre-heating briquettes and pour into dutch oven (I dearly wish I had captured this maneuver, because it was brilliantly simple and ingenious)
  4. White butter is melting, mix dry ingredients with milk and egg until combined and pour into dutch oven after butter
  5. Follow the charcoal instructions and start the bottom to cooking. Add the briquettes to the top once they are ready. Check every 10 minutes until done (approx 30 minutes). 

Mixed Berry Cobbler

30 minutes total (5 to prep, 25 to cook)

18 briquettes on bottom, 10 on top

  • 4 cups fresh mixed berries

  • 1/4c granulated sugar

  • 2 tbs all-purpose flour

  • 1 can Pillsbury Biscuits (you could also pre-make homemade if you are feeling like going the extra mile-- try this one from Joy the Baker, omitting the extra flavor additions if you prefer)

  1. Pre-mix the berries, sugar and flour in a plastic container for easy cleanup.
  2. Line dutch oven with foil (you can also prepare a foil pan as with the tilapia, but it is much more difficult to achieve browned biscuits that way--trust me)
  3. Pour the berry mix into the dutch oven and top with the pre-made biscuits
  4. Follow the charcoal instructions and start the bottom to cooking. Add the briquettes to the top once they are ready. Check every 5-7 minutes until done (approx 25 minutes). 
  5. I did the cobbler in the foil pan, but I wouldn't recommend it-- it was too hard to get the top to brown (which is how there came to be burned parts and bits of ash in the cobbler...don't be like me) and it would have been just as easy to do the cornbread first, lift it out of the dutch oven and then start the cobbler.
Cheers to the great outdoors

Cheers to the great outdoors

Hope you enjoyed this summer's camp cooking roundup! If you missed the pictures from my camping trip check out next Sunday's post to get the full panorama of Mt Rainier beauty. As always, keep those requests coming and give me a follow on the social medias for even more Betty action. xo--

Irish Soda Bread! Guinness! Ireland!

Happy Saint Patrick's day, readers! I am not Irish myself, but being a ginger, I do like to show a little love for my hereditary neighbors to the southwest.  

And what better way to show love than baking? There is none. That's just science. And so today I give you my favorite recipe for Irish soda bread. Traditional soda bread is made with flour, baking soda, buttermilk and salt. My recipe adds butter, sugar, raisins and a little baking powder for extra leavening. 

Betty's Irish Soda Bread

  • Pre-heat oven and dutch oven to 350F
  • 3c all-purpose flour (using the scoop and sweep method)
  • 1/2c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp salt (I use fancy fleur-de-sel for bread, but you do you!)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1c golden raisins (technically optional, but WHY WOULDN'T YOU??)
  • 1-1/3c buttermilk
Cast of characters: buttermilk, raisins, butter, and the dry mid of flour, salt, leaveners, and sugar

Cast of characters: buttermilk, raisins, butter, and the dry mid of flour, salt, leaveners, and sugar

Combine butter with dry until it resembles course crumbs

Combine butter with dry until it resembles course crumbs

Knead a few times until the dough begins to take shape

Knead a few times until the dough begins to take shape

  1. Sift dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl
  2. Using your thumbs and forefingers, crumb the cold butter cubes into the dry mix until it resembles course crumbs. I find it easiest to use my first two fingers and thumb to press the butter into the dry mixture. I do this fairly quickly so as not to warm up the butter too much. You can also use a pastry cutter for this, but I like to get my hands in the dough.
  3. Stir in raisins, then buttermilk. Mix with hands or large wood spoon until the dough just starts to come together but is still shaggy (ie: loose and sticky)
  4. Turn dough out onto lightly floured parchment, counter, or pastry board. Knead a few times until the dough starts to stick together. I push out with the heel of my hand, fold it back on itself and then pivot the parchment 1/4 turn and repeat. 
  5. Shape into a 7 inch round about 1-1/2 inch thick, transfer to clean parchment and score the top with an X. Drop into pre-heated dutch oven (or cold cookie sheet) and bake for 45 minutes with lid on, then 10-15 without the lid or until the bottom sounds hollow.
  6. Try to let it cool before you ravenously devour it. Or don't. 
Before baking

Before baking

After baking

After baking

This is a big crowd-pleaser and is pretty easy to throw together for company. Special pro tip-- eat with apple butter at tea time or Irish Beef Stew with Guinness at dinner. Yep. Don't say I never gave you nothin'. I myself will be making the stew tonight for dinner, pics to come. Or maybe I'll inhale it before remembering to take a photo. That happens. A lot.

You may notice that I seemed to have the best of intentions last post and here we are two weeks later and not a whole lot of awesome posting has happened. I know, I know. But the good news is that the quarter is done, my work schedule is calming down, and I've been really productive during that time working out lots of awesome stuff for you guys. A ton of other stuff has been going on too, which I'll get to later this week as it is somewhat relevant to your interests.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Let me have it in the comments section below, via email (bettybetatester@gmail.com) or on the social media!