Saturday, February 18, 2017

Glazed Orange Scones


Ever since our return to Crete, Liberty and I have been cooking up some of our favourite recipes. I love getting up extra early to bake something hot and fresh from the oven, especially when it's windy and rainy and cold outside, which isn't often, here, so we jump at the opportunity when we can (not that we need one, of course!)
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While in Toronto, we lived across the street from a Panera Bread Bakery Cafe, and it wasn't that long before we were addicted to many of their wonderful sweets and one in particular: their orange scones.

A younger, prettier, slimmer version of me, with blue eyes, but never mind!

So, naturally, when Crete feels like Canada on those windy and rainy and cold days, we seriously CRAVE these citrus goodies! In fact, I've been dreaming about them from the time we got here. And let's be honest, when a girl's craving orange scones, oranges, (of which I have plenty) just don't do the trick, although they do do wonders for the scones named after them.

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With no Panera Bread on the island, (or in the whole of Europe, for that matter), I still needed access to their scones, so I googled 'copycat Panera Bread orange scones recipe'. I clicked onto the first result that came up, a blog called My Baking Addiction. After reading the recipe, the comments/reviews, and customizing it, I quickly got to work.

 

 

Ingredients:


For the Scones

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • zest of two medium oranges
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I used 2% Greek yoghurt)*
  • 1 large egg

For the Glaze


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter; melted (I used 1 tbsp)*
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar; sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice 
  • (I also added 1/2 tsp orange zest)* 

     

    Directions:


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine sugar and orange zest; mix with your fingertips until the sugar is moistened and fragrant. Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until combined.
  3. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream and egg until smooth.
  5. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. The dough will be sticky first, but as you press, the dough will come together.
  6. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and prepare the glaze.
  7. In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and orange juice. Whisk until smooth. Dip the top of the scones into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. At this point, you can leave them as is or go for the double dip. 
  8. (I halved the ingredients for the glaze, as I found them sweet enough).*

Notes:

  • Scones store well in an airtight container for up to two days.
*My alterations


 



While they were baking, Liberty was pleasantly awakened by their appetizing buttery/orange-y aroma, and soon she was floating down the staircase, in a dreamlike state. She couldn't believe that I had successfully replicated our favourite scones  These, my friends, are even BETTER than the product they were inspired by. Please try them; you will not be disappointed. What are you baking these days?



Thanks for visiting
and happy weekend!

xoxo
Poppy 


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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Credenza Extravaganza


Hello, all!
Well, after a month of cleaning and clearing, I was getting dangerously rather cranky and then, well, I completely conked out! I must say, multi-tasking is one of my fortes - isn't it every woman's (?) - you know what I mean: simultaneously delegating the dirty stuff to the washing machine and dishwasher, dinner doing its thing, simmering on the stove, thus, leaving me hands free to mop the freshly vacuumed floors, while I get the latest deets on all the drama in Canada during a conference call with my mom and sister!

 

Yet multi-tasking isn't all it's cracked up to be. In fact, I recently read that in the workplace, it actually leads to more mistakes! Since I was desperately craving some creativity, I devoted all my concentration on decorating the credenza  and found it was the perfect pick-me-up perk!  Excited about restyling it with a few new cuties from Canada, like the cool, cow creamer, above, I made sure not to even think about focusing on anything else (like back breaking bath tub scrubbing, for example!) until my project was completed.


For the most part, I worked with what I had, like the 
sweet, butterfly candy dish that sat in the sun room 
for a long time, and the dainty, floral teapot,


which used to be displayed in the 
glass cabinet in the kitchen, above.


The same goes for the white, scalloped edge, French 
dishes, setting a foundation on the bottom shelf. 

 

They were stacked on the kitchen's open shelving for years.


This latest arrangement, to me, is fresh, light and cheery. It screams sings 'spring' to me. Those of you who have been following Poppy View for a while know that the credenza usually changes with the seasons. 


Case in point #1: Christmas!

 

Case in point #2: bursting with summer blooms.


So, until spring actually does arrive, at which point I will joyfully pick narcissus, geraniums and freesia from our garden, to fill empty creamers with splashes of floral fragrance, the breakfast nook credenza will be on stand by, unlike me, who's already got a lot on her plate!

Thanks for visiting!



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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Searching for Shepherds in the Snow

The Tavern 'Aetos' (Eagle), with its beautiful wall mural depicting the Psiloriti mountains

Every New Year's Day, we always drive up to the village of Anogeia, to see the snow and enjoy a traditional Cretan meal.  A few weeks late this year, we were really looking forward to our visit. Anogeia, (Greek: Ανώγεια, 'high ground'), at an altitude of 738 metres or 2,421 ft,

The Psiloritis Mountains, Rethymno, Crete

sits at the base of the highest mountains on Crete, namely, Psiloritis (Greek: Ψηλορείτης, 'high mountain'), which measure 2,456 metres or 8,057 feet above sea level.  Covered in a smooth blanket of  snowy white, they are a stunning sight in contrast with the shades of the rugged green and brown landscape below.

The Psiloritis Massif, a reservoir supplying several springs and ponds

We couldn't wait to get there, not for the snow, for we had had our fill of that in Canada, but for the scenic drive, which actually feels more like an airplane ride. Travelling through this rough terrain, a myriad of spectacular caves, deep gorges, small plateaus, oak and pine forests exist in and around tiny villages that are characteristically built on cliffs.  The area is home to rare birds of prey, such as bearded vultures, common vultures, golden eagles and red-tailed hawks.

Psiloritis' highest peaks boast snow until late June

With every twist and turn, the countryside became whiter 
and whiter with mini mountains bordering the roadside,
 and then, as we reached a plateau, 


we caught sight of a mitato, (Greek: Μιτάτο, 'shelter or 'lodging') or shepherd's hut. These unique dwellings are constructed solely from local limestone, in this case, the earthy shades of olive green, slate grey, and honey brown stone indigenous to the Psiloriti Mountain region.

Entryway of a mitato or shepherd's hut

Providing shepherds with protection against the elements, mitata also serve as corrals when tending to the sheep. They also function as mini cheese making factories, complete with copper cauldrons, clay pots, wooden utensils, table and chairs, stone beds and stools made out of old tree roots!


An opening at the top of the dome acts as a skylight, air duct and chimney. These conical structures are, indeed, quite impressive in their innovation. All that talk about cheese production, though, was making us hungry.

 

It was, after all, time for lunch!

An eagle's stern expression covers the menu of the tavern that bears its name

A few minutes later we arrived at the popular Taverna Aetos, our go-to haunt  in the village of Anogeia. Decorated in a rustic, mountain style, old farming tools, Cretan crockery, vintage furniture and clothing furnish the large restaurant's space, bestowing extra traditional charm to its patrons.

Fresh, Cretan greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, lentils, pomegranate seeds and goat cheese are tossed
together in an olive oil/honey, balsamic dressing to create the tavern's trademark salad.

Specializing in traditional, Cretan cuisine, the combination of the tavern's tasty dishes and breathtaking views of the Psiloritis Mountains was the perfect ending to our adventure in search of snow (and a shepherd in a mitato!).


Thanks so much for visiting!
Wishing you a lovely week,
xoxo
Poppy 

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Orange: Fruit, Felines and Flames


Bright, orange-y  combs and wattles adorning our resident roosters  commanded my attention this past week, demanding  I put them on top of my very long 'to do' list, and thus, making it a priority to find them their new place on the kitchen's open shelving, as promised. I'm glad they put the pressure on, since it gave me the chance to do something fun and creative after two weeks of tedious cleaning. Orange, from the fresh and flavourful to the furry and flaming, would continue to entertain and delight that day!


On our afternoon walk, Liberty and I spotted a Mackerel Red Tabby taking shelter from a sudden hail storm. Unlike the rowdy roosters, this ginger critter had a modest gentleness about it. Keeping a low profile, kitty hid under a metallic umbrella, while we pretended that its striking stripes went unnoticed and continued on our way, apart from pausing for a few seconds, daring to snap this pic from a distance! 

 

When we arrived at my aunt's house shortly after to pick oranges,  thankfully, the hail had stopped. We were pleasantly surprised and grateful that the previous day's gales hadn't succeeded in too much of the sweet citrus fruit falling to the ground, where it risked rapid rotting. Other trees in her garden boast branches of clementines and lemons and we'll be back for them!


Arriving home with our basket of pretty, perfumed produce,

A crackling fire calms the soul and soothes achy bones from days of damp and cold

we scurried to get a fire going, (our first, 
since we'd been back), as the house felt cold. 

Olive trees huddle together, awaiting confirmation of a rumoured snowfall.

We wondered if there was more snow on the horizon. Apparently, 20cm of the white, powdery stuff covered the landscape a few days before our arrival, causing chaos, since Cretans are never prepared for such uncharacteristic, wacky weather conditions!

Freshly squeezed orange juice is enjoyed daily, thanks
to these beauties, bursting with a sweet, robust flavour

What the islanders do expect from their typically mild winters is to harvest sweet citrus fruit! Lemons, oranges, clementines, mandarins and grapefruit blossom in the spring, scenting the air with the most intoxicating fragrance, a combination of floral, citrus and freshness - one of my absolute favourite scents. Most varieties are ripe for picking at the start of December, just in time for use in traditional Christmas cookies and other festive treats.


 What colour is winter in your world?

 
Thanks for visiting!
Happy weekend,
xoxo
Poppy  

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Crossing the Pond: Canada to Crete

 Crete: Snow capped mountains harmoniously exist with green meadows in early January.
This photo was taken on our walk around the village, a few days ago.

Hello everyone, hope 2017 has been treating you kindly so far. Liberty and I arrived back on the island in early January, and it's been non-stop cleaning, tidying and re-adapting, after a week or so of jet lag, having boarded and disembarked 3 planes (and gone through 3 security checks!) to get here. Decorating, at press time, is not in the picture!

Uxbridge, Ontario: views from my sister's family room after an early  morning snowfall

We packed all of December, then vacated Liberty's condo at the end of the month and spent the last 10 days at my sister's home in Uxbridge, Ontario, which gave us a chance to spend quality time with my parents, too, who live with her and her family. The holidays were extra special, as we got to see lots of extended family at holiday parties who we won't be seeing for some time.

Uxbridge, guest bedroom: waking up to frosted branches and pretty brick homes

Born in Toronto, then relocating to Crete in my mid twenties, I am a citizen of two very diverse countries, on two different continents that share one ocean which I have crossed many times in my life. Some, myself included, refer to the Atlantic as 'the pond', inferring that the distance between North America and Europe isn't such a big deal in this global village we call earth. But here's the thing: it is. A big deal, I mean. And the older I get, the larger that pond seems to get, further widening the physical distance between my family and me.

              Two beautiful blues: the Aegean Sea and the Cretan sky                 


So, for now, I plan on staying on this side for a while - hopefully working from my home in the gorgeous, Cretan countryside, enjoying the temperate climate, seeing my wonderful friends, and staying in touch with all of you. You have accompanied me on my many journeys across the pond, and I thank you for your support and friendship. And, in contrast to the airborne kind, you continue to be that one, unique connection to my heart and I appreciate your visits so very much.
See you soon,
xoxo,
Poppy