‘We love you Daddy’ mini heart-shaped cheese scones

So it’s the Saturday morning before Fathers’ Day, and I suddenly realise on an unrelated search through the fridge that we have 2 eggs that are at the day before their use-by date. This is probably because I’m doing less baking these days and I keep forgetting to do boiled eggs now that Andrew seems to be not so keen on scrambled but will eat boiled. Tom and I hate throwing away food, and very rarely do it – as we live so near the shops and do most of our shopping by foot or bike, we buy fresh stuff every few days and only as much as we need. So I was not going to let these eggs go to waste. I’m still not exactly back into baking like I was, but if it was bake or throw away food, I know which I’d rather do. As I’m generally feeling pretty good these days in the morning, I set about thinking up a recipe (or what turned out to be two) which would use the eggs up, and, to kill another proverbial bird whilst I was at it, bake something I knew Tom would particularly enjoy as a Fathers’ Day treat.

Given that Tom likes pretty much anything edible, I had quite a free rein on that front. The main factor in deciding on recipes was of course they had to have egg in. As my sweet tooth has yet to return from the pregnancy taste changes, I thought I’d give a savoury recipe a go. I flicked through some books to get inspiration, and the scones in good old Delia Smith grabbed my attention. I love a good cheese scone, so that was one egg decided on. For what I did with the other you’ll have to wait for another post.

Here’s the recipe that I used. It’s roughly based on Delia’s, but I always adapt recipes to suit our tastes and cupboard/fridge contents. I went for a ‘mini’ size so they would be easy for Andrew and also good as a snack. The heart-shape was supposed to be a sign for ‘We love you Daddy’ and we’d like to thank you for all you do.

Ingredients

  • 75g wholewheat flour
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 25g margarine
  • 100g mature cheddar, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 3tbsp milk
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 pinches cumin seeds

Method

  1. Rub the margarine and flours together in a bowl using your fingers, until it looks like bread crumbs.
  2. Stir in the cayenne and cumin until evenly distributed.
  3. Mix in about 3/4 of the cheese until evenly distributed.
  4. Beat the egg and 2/3 of the milk in a cup, then add it to the other ingredients, and stir until it forms a stiff dough that you can roll into a ball. If it’s too dry, add a bit more milk.
  5. Flatten out the dough on a floured surface to about 1cm thick, and cut out scones using a biscuit cutter. I used a small heart-shaped one, to make the mini scones as a ‘we love you Daddy’ treat 🙂
  6. Place the scones on a lined baking tray.
  7. Brush them with the rest of the milk, then sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
  8. Bake in the oven at 180ºC until golden brown.
  9. Let cool and eat as fresh as possible.

We had ours with tomato soup, which worked brilliantly. In fact Tom liked them so much he ate most of them in one go! Andrew and I just about got a look in. I hadn’t expected them to be that popular, even knowing his appetite. He said his excuse was that they’re best eaten on the day of baking. I said he didn’t need an excuse – they were his treat!

Chocolate and almond butter crumblies

A checkerboard of hearted (use your imagination!) yummy crumblies

I’m no good at lying, so here I am being honest about the fact that these delicious ‘crumblies’ I made started out in my head as shortbread biscuits. They look or feel nothing like shortbread, but they taste just as good if not better, because they have that lovely ‘melt in the mouth’ quality, they just crumble as (but not before) you bite them. Hence the name change to ‘crumblies’. It was always my intention to make half chocolate dough and half almond dough, and then make square biscuits with a contrasting-coloured heart in the centre. If you use your imagination, you can just about see this plan worked for the chocolate squares with almond hearts, but the almond squares with chocolate hearts were a bit of a flop (or a run if you like) – in appearance that is, but not taste. Oh how I wish I could post samples so that readers would believe me.

I suspect part of the reason why the dough ran so much (unlike the firmness of shortbread) was that I used all cornflour. I used to make shortbread with half cornflour, half plain flour; I expected that using all cornflour would make them more fragile and crumbly, but I didn’t expect the dough to go so runny whilst cooking and therefore lose the shape of my hearts. My inspiration for doing this cornflour thing was seeing gluten-free shortbread on sale at a tea-room I visited with my mum-in-law who is wheat/gluten-intolerant; so I thought I’d have a go at another wheat-free recipe with her in mind. The results are not bad. The perfectionist inside me is annoyed that they don’t look so pretty, but the time-pressed realistic mum inside me has come to accept that as long as they taste good (which they do, did I mention that?!), that’s all that matters. If you fancy having a go at these yourself, here’s how I did it.

Ingredients

Almond dough:

  • 125g corn flour
  • 125g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 60g icing sugar
  • few drops almond essence

Chocolate dough:

  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 80g corn flour
  • 125g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 60g icing sugar

 Method

  1. Start with the almond dough (so you can use the same bowl for the chocolate one – think about it, the other way round and you’d get brown bits in your yellow dough). Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl with a metal spoon.
  2. Add the cornflour and almond essence and combine until you get a thick pasty dough. As it gets thicker, use your hands to bring it together into a ball.

    Ball of almond dough
  3. On a large flat surface, sprinkle some cornflour. Roll out the dough until about 1cm thick. (I suspect that making it thicker would have been better.) Cut out some squares with a biscuit cutter, until you’ve used all the dough.
  4. From each square, cut out a small heart using a biscuit cutter. I got mine from Hobbycraft back in 2008 (I know the date because I got them to cut out hearts from card for the orders of service at our wedding!)

    A close up of cutting
  5. Place the squares (minus hearts) on a greaseproof-paper-lined baking tray. Put the hearts to one side.

    Cutting in progress - almond dough cut into squares with hearts cut out, and the same happening with the chocolate dough
  6. Do the same with the chocolate dough. Cream butter and sugar, then add cornflour and cocoa powder.

    Ball of chocolate dough
  7. When you have a tray of almond and a tray of chocolate squares, place the opposite type of dough heart into the heart-shaped holes in the squares.

    All lined up ready to go into the oven (the last time I got to see my beauties looking so perfect....)
  8. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 160°C for 10-12 minutes. When you take them out they will still be quite soft.
  9. Allow to cool on the trays and they will become firm. Once cooled and firm, remove from the trays and store in an air-tight box.
The good....
...and the ugly (there was no 'bad' involved, not on taste)

The chocolate taste is nicely strong and not too sweet, which contrasts well with the sweeter almond taste. So if you’re more in the mood for something chocolately with a hint of sweetness, I’d recommend one from the ‘good’ option, and if you’re more up for a sweet bite with a bit of chocolate thrown in, I’d go for the ‘ugly’ but still yummy option. My willing tasters (aka my boys) approve, which is reassuring to know. I’d be more than happy to get suggestions of why it went so runny, other than the cornflour. I’m a bit of an experimental baker; sometimes things go right, sometimes wrong, but I don’t know much of the science behind why something went wrong unless it’s obvious like I left out a key ingredient by mistake.

From one love to another love

As it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought we’d go for a bit of a wander through my thoughts on ‘lurve’. I’ll start with love as we think of it on Valentine’s Day, and end on the most amazing love I know of, which is for everyone, not just those with a Valentine.

If you believe Wikipedia, Saint Valentine’s Day has traditionally been associated with lovers celebrating their love for each other since the Middle Ages. These days it seems to have become another one of those annual events that card shops, chocolate manufacturers and florists big up in order to sell their goods, handily situated between Christmas and Mothers’ Day.

Since Tom and I started ‘going out’ in 2004, we have always gone out for a meal together on or around 14th February, because we enjoy our food and for us it’s the perfect way to spend an evening together. The one exception was last year when we had a 2 week old baby – we got takeaway instead! I say ‘on or around’ because I think most years it’s actually been another evening close to the 14th, mainly because it’s so expensive to book a restaurant on the night itself, and we don’t feel as though we need to show/tell each other how much we love each other on one particular night of the year – we try to do that every day. It’s a good excuse to go on a ‘date’ though 😉 This year Tom has a surprise location planned for dinner tomorrow, and I’m not allowed to guess where. Andrew’s Godmum has kindly offered to babysit.

The kind of love we think about on Valentines Day is just one of various kinds of love. It’s the attraction felt between two people who are ‘in love’ (though of course Valentines is not just about existing couples but also those who want to tell the one they are attracted to just that). Somewhere in my linguistics-related past I remember learning that Greek is a language which has various words for different kinds of love, not like English which has to qualify which love is meant if the context isn’t clear (it usually is). But since my already jam-packed memory for linguistic info didn’t need to access this interesting insight about Greek semantics (or word meanings – I’m a sounds girl), it must have filed it in the hard to reach areas – yes, I’ve forgotten exactly what the words are. As my days of sitting in the University Library are long gone (not a bad thing), my research into this ‘love’ly topic can’t come from there; instead I choose Google. The top result in my search is of course Wikipedia, though scrolling further down I come across various sites and blogs that agree with it. And here’s what I find, summarised…

Eros

This is passionate or intimate love, often with a feeling of desire and longing. Though it does not necessarily have to be sexual, it applies to someone you love more than a friend, including dating relationships and marriage. It’s where we get the word ‘erotic’ from in English.

Philia

This is affectionate love or friendship, such as that between family, friends and within a community. In ancient Greek it could also be used for enjoyment of an activity, like we say, for example, ‘I love swimming’. It’s where we get the suffix (or word ending) -phile from in English, as in Francophile (someone who likes/loves all things French).

Storge

This means a natural affection, used mainly for family relationships, like the love that parents have for their children. It can also be used to mean ‘putting up with’ situations.

Agape

This started off in Ancient Greek as a general affection or deeper sense of love than eros which suggests more of an attraction. It was also used for the love parents have for their children, and that between a married couple. In the Bible, the writers of the New Testament, the part written (in Greek) since Jesus was born, used agape to mean unconditional and sacrificial love – the love that God shows towards us.

When I read about these different Greek words for love just now, I did recognise the word agape from more recent times in my life than eros, philia and storge (which I vaguely remember reading/hearing about at some point). It’s because the term Agape supper is used at church, to describe a meal that we sometimes eat together as a community of Christians (usually just before Easter on Maundy Thursday evening), to remind ourselves of God’s sacrificial and unconditional love for us. He showed this love by sending His only son, Jesus, to live on Earth, then die by being crucified on a Roman cross, to make up for all the things we do wrong that separate us from God. In this way Jesus showed the ultimate sacrificial love for us, taking all our wrongdoing on himself instead, to allow us to come close to God. Even when we mess up, again and again (I try not to, but I’m not perfect and still fall short of living a perfect life), God is always there, unconditionally loving us, ready to welcome us back with open arms and be close to Him again.

Now that I’m a parent, I understand what this kind of love feels like more than I did before Andrew came along. I know that I would do anything for him, even sacrifice my own life in order to save him if we were in such a situation; I can’t imagine not accepting him as my son, even if he did something really awful (though I guess at 1 year old I’m not going to be able to imagine that kind of thing yet anyway!) But, unlike me, God is perfect, and I have no doubt that He will welcome me back whatever I do, and I will say sorry to Him for messing up in whatever way, small or big, because I know what Jesus did for me by dying on the cross. As Christians we think of God as our Father (in heaven), and the kind of love that parents feel for their children is (out of the various kinds of love we can think of) probably the most like what He shows with agape.

I’d like to draw this wander through my thoughts on different kinds of love with some of my favourite verses from the Bible, because they remind me of how loving and perfect God is. First a selection of lines from one of the letters that a writer named John wrote to a community of early Christians:

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:16)

We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19)

There are two things here that I find so amazing: 1) the very definition of love is ‘God’, and His character is ‘love’; 2) this love is not something that our actions initiated, it wasn’t anything we ‘did’, rather it was started by God and given to us.

Following on from ‘God is love’, here is a passage from a letter that a writer called Paul wrote to a community of early Christians:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails…. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13)

Again, there are two things here that I find so amazing: 1) the importance of love – without it even seemingly important talents or faith mean or are worth nothing; 2) perfect love has so many attractive and positive characteristics that I would love (!) to have (more patience and kindness, less envy, pride and anger would definitely go down well with me) – since ‘God is love’, we could re-write that list of characteristics with ‘God is patient, God is kind… etc.)

If you’d like to find out more about this agape love that I’ve talked about here, either contact me through the blog/twitter/facebook to ask me more, or why not find an Alpha course near you, where you can ask all sorts of questions about the Christian faith, like ‘Who is Jesus?’, ‘If there is a God, why does He allow suffering?’, and ‘What do I need to do to feel God’s love?’ After all this thinking about agape, I’d better get back to writing the card and wrapping the present for my Valentine. Have a ‘love’ly day everyone 🙂

A ‘love’ly little bit of craft

Just a quick craft project that I knocked up in about an hour all together. I’m taking a slight risk by putting this on the blog today that Tom will see it before tomorrow when he received it as a Valentine’s gift (but it’s pretty unlikely as he’s not really into blog reading except occasionally he has a look at mine).

We have several empty small clip frames that have been hanging around in my overcrowded boxes of ‘bits to do something with one day’. Tom, the minimalist, tries to persuade me to sort these out every now and then, but I usually avoid it. So I thought he would appreciate me actually doing something with one of them at least, and, even better, he gets the benefit, especially because he’s been asking for a recent photo of me for his desk at work.

Blank clip frame

I found some patterned papers with various heart designs on them in a magazine that I bought a few weeks ago. I cut various sizes of rectangles out of the different papers using pinking scissors to get a zig-zag edge.

Rectangles of heart-design papers cut with pinking scissors

Then I covered a piece of white paper the size of the frame with several strips of double sided tape.

Paper size of the frame with double-sided tape strips

Arranging the rectangles as I went, I stuck them down onto the tape until the paper was covered.

Paper covered in pretty patterns

I then cut some long thin strips of a red patterned paper, and made a border around the outside of the patchwork. A photo of me and Andrew (can’t find any of me on my own since he was born!) completed the frame, cut into a heart shape (as best I could to fit the picture – it’s a bit wonky!) to show more of the heart designs behind it than if I left it as a rectangle.

Finished frame - we love you Daddy!

I’ve seen some lovely Valentine’s craft ideas on a few blogs so far. Have you seen any good ideas for making gifts? Or do you prefer to buy a gift? I usually don’t have much time to make gifts these days, but I do like it when I get chance, because I can make it more personal. Coming up over the next couple of months, I’ll be sharing on the blog some birthday cards that I’ve made, but I need to wait until those birthdays have gone, or I’ll spoil the surprise 😉