Sometimes kismet touches down and kisses me lightly on the shoulder. That's what happened when I posted a status update on Facebook six months ago. I asked if anyone had leads on a summer house for rent on Cape Cod. Within minutes, a college friend replied: "No leads on the Cape, but my family and I own a house on Martha's Vineyard and we're looking to rent it in late June."
And just like that we landed a place on Martha's Vineyard for the last two weeks of Colin's sabbatical.
So here we are. The house is glorious -- wood beams, spiral staircase, wrap-around porch. Zillions of beach towels. Large loft for giddy children. It's secluded, too, in the woods down a bumpy dirt road, minutes from the beach.
A house like this is meant for sharing, so that's what we're doing; over the next two weeks, we're entertaining a bevy of friends and relatives, because there's nothing better for memory-making than having your loved ones close at hand.
We arrived first. Just the four of us.
Two days later, our friends the Fergusons drove down from New Brunswick, Canada. They endured a nine hour car trip followed by a ferry ride, with three kids in tow. That's dedication.
I could tell you so much about the Fergusons, but I don't have the space. Let's just say that my love for Canadians began with this family. Wendy and I met outside Boston when our firstborns were infants, born only four days apart. Less than two years later, we had our second sons, born five weeks apart. Our kids were like peas in a pod for years.
Then, in late 2003, Colin got a job offer in San Jose, and just like that, our families learned we'd be separated. Wendy also discovered she was pregnant with a little girl; her daughter was born just days before we moved.
So for them to join us on this trip, in this lovely house, by the beach, has been a true reunion, not only for the four boys, but for our entire families.
To herald their arrival, I baked. First, a cake. Then nectarine scones, Dutch babies...
... spaghetti with pesto and sausage, and chocolate chip pancakes. There's been black bean and vegetable soup, hamburgers and hot dogs, goat cheese toasts, and salads with watermelon, mint, and baby greens.
Wendy even helped me style some photos...
... in her pajamas.
So though I'm not posting often, I'm still trying to keep you in the loop.
If you were here, I'd offer you a scone. They've got fresh nectarines, and a sprinkle of nutmeg-sugar.
Pull up an Adirondack chair.
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Recipe for Nectarine Scones with Nutmeg Sugar
Scones are ideal for feeding overnight guests because they're very easy to make in advance and freeze. When everyone wakes up, all you have to do is brush the tops with cream, sprinkle them with sugar, and pop them directly in the oven, still frozen. Just bake up what you need, and keep the rest frozen for future use.
Makes 14 scones
1 cup diced nectarines, peel on
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg, divided
1 teaspoon salt
2-2/3 cup cold heavy cream, plus additional for brushing
1-1/2 tablespoons coarse sugar (or granulated)
Line a small tray with wax paper and spread the nectarines on it in a single layer. Pop in the freezer for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and salt. Drizzle in the cream, stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together and the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Don't neglect the bottom of the bowl, as flour particles tend to hide out there.
Turn half the dough out onto a floured board. Knead once or twice, then scatter half of the slightly frozen nectarine bits over the dough and knead until incorporated, about 8 to 10 more times. Use additional flour as necessary because the fruit will make the dough a bit wet and sticky in parts. Pat into a rough circle about 3/4-inch thick.
Use a floured cutter or floured drinking glass to stamp out 2" rounds. Transfer to the baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough and nectarines. (At this point, you can freeze them until hard and then transfer to freezer-safe resealable bags.)
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg in a small bowl. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpat.
Divide the (fresh or frozen) scones between the baking sheets. Lightly brush the top of each scone with heavy cream and sprinkle with the nutmeg-sugar. Bake in the middle of the oven (not on the bottom) for about 22 to 28 minutes, or until nicely browned. Serve warm.