There, I said it out loud. Now you can hold me accountable and berate me if I slip up.
It's not that I don't read. I mean, I read all day long. I bet I read more during the day than most people, actually. Well, not most people, but a whole lot of people. Between the New York Times, the gazillion cookbooks I read, a quantillion food magazines, and the dodecadillion blogs in my RSS reader, I must read about 27 hours a day. But I'm not reading. You know?
Here are the books in my bedroom that I've started but never finished: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (love it; a birthday gift from my friend Jen; only have 1 chapter left, started it in June); When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (love it, on page 129 of 323 pages; been reading it forever); What To Eat by Marion Nestle (love it; started it last summer, still haven't finished); Bottomfeeder by Taras Grescoe (love it; started it last spring, read and highlighted about 80 percent of it; skipped some chapters in the middle); Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen (love it; Colin bought it for me when I cackled at an excerpt in the NYT; I'm on page 55, which, let's admit, is pretty pathetic after 2 months in my possession).
Here are the books that I've been meaning to start but have not yet actually cracked: What Is the What by Dave Eggers (author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, one of my favorite books of all time); A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (which I bought for 25 cents at a school book sale and which, judging by its pristine shape, its original owner never cracked either); A Mercy by Toni Morrison (which my in-laws gave me over the holidays); and Appetite for Life by Noel Riley Fitch (passed along by stepmother, oh, two years ago now).
So, what's up with this? Why can't I finish books I truly love? Why can't I start books I'm dying to read?
Any psychoanalysts out there?
I'll get back to this question after I
Recipe for Espresso Chip Scones with Coffee Glaze
I often dream of curling up on the couch with a thick novel and a tender scone. I don't seem to have a problem with the scone part. And these are the most popular scones I have ever made. It's very important to use thick sheet pans (or to double them if they're thin), and to bake the scones in the middle or upper third of the oven, switching their position halfway through. If you don't, your scones will burn and you will be miserable.
Makes 12 to 18 scones, depending on the size of your cutters (I used a variety)
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons powdered espresso
1 teaspoon salt
2-2/3 cup cold heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 to 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, plus more if the glaze is too thin
1/4 cup freshly brewed coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a few sheet pans, doubled if necessary, with parchment or Silpats.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, espresso powder, 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 hang out there.
Turn half the dough out onto a floured board. Knead once or twice, then scatter half the chocolate over the dough and knead until incorporated, about 8 to 10 more times. Use additional flour as necessary, but don't overknead or the scones will be tough. Pat into a rough circle about 3/4-inch thick.
Use a floured cutter or floured drinking glass to stamp out the scones. Transfer to the lined baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough and chocolate. Bake in the center and upper third of the oven for 15 to 25 minutes, reversing the sheets pans halfway through. The bake time will depend completely on the size of your scones. Finished scones should be firm and set, but the bottoms should not be burned (obviously).
Just before the scones are finished, make the glaze. Melt the butter and whisk with the powdered sugar, hot coffee, and vanilla. Add more powdered sugar if necessary. You want the glaze to be thick and opaque, so it coats the scones and retains its cafe au lait color.
When the scones are finished baking, set them on a rack and slip a sheet of foil underneath. Drizzle with the glaze, using a small offset spatula to spread it in an even layer. Serve immediately.