Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2 for 1: Pumpkin Scones & I Ran a 5K!

In the restaurant world, when you are about to have a day or two off you say, "this is my Friday", because the actual day of Friday rarely indicates time off for a restaurant employee (as the weekend is the busiest time). Now that I work in the 9-5 world, my Fridays are always well, Friday. But this week, TODAY, Wednesday, is my Friday! Tomorrow morning I'm flying to Chicago to spend several days with some of the coolest people I know. I'm so excited! Good friends, food, drinks, a city & state I've never been to, and cold weather!

Up until now I haven't been writing much (in any of my blogs/journals), mainly because I've been busy. And happy. You know that thing they say about great art coming out of great pain? I think it might be true. At least a little. I always feel more thoughtful and eloquent (and dramatic) when life is hard. Right now life is good and I just don't feel that...deep. No, that's not true. I'm always deep. I just don't feel like (or honestly have the time to) write it down.

So, anyway, I want to post about these scones and I want to post about the 5K I ran, so, here you go (could 2 subjects go together less well?):

The Scones

I have a strange mind. I love fall. Well, in Texas we don't really have fall (at least not consistently, right now it's actually kind of "cold"), but we compensate with fall-flavored foods. I love the fall flavors. However, for some strange reason, in my mind, I've assigned a flavor to each month.... stay with with me.... I know this is weird, but I just feel like each fall month (and December) say a certain fall flavor to me. It's not that I won't eat the other flavors in the others months, but I prefer to bake and eat certain flavors in certain months. It makes my organization-loving brain feel happy. So, here's the breakdown...

September - Apples
October - Pumpkin
November - Cranberry
December - Chocolate and Cinnamon (but not necessarily together) and Gingerbread

The last weekend of October I felt a lot of pressure to bake something with pumpkin because once it was November it just wouldn't feel right... :)

Pumpkin Scones with Autumn Spiced Glaze
slightly adapted from here

2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
7 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 Tablespoons half & half (I used fat free because it was what I had)
1 egg

For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
A pinch of pumpkin pie spice
A pinch of ginger
A pinch of cloves

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
With your hands, mix the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. 
In a medium bowl combine the pumpkin, sugar, half and half and egg with a whisk. Fold into the dry ingredients and mix with a large spoon until the dry bits at the bottom of the bowl have been incorporated.
With your hands, pat the mix into a ball and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Continue to shape into a ball, then gently press down and out, forming the dough into a flattened circle about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. If the edges of the circle start to crack just place the palm of your hand against the edge and gently press the dough back in.
Dust a large, sharp knife with flour and cut the dough into six triangles. Slide the knife under each triangle to help you lift and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the scones begin to turn light brown in color. Place on a rack to cool.
While the scones are cooling, mix the powdered sugar, spices and milk together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the scones while they are still warm. I glazed the scones twice. I used half during my first pass, then let the glaze set on the scones for a few minutes before finishing them off with the rest of the glaze.
Look who wanted some. How could I resist?
The 5K
Not the best picture, but that's me, Melody, Kristen, and 2 of the coaches: Lori and Omer!
I've written a couple of posts about my quest to "conquer running" (I'm not going to link to them). Well, mission accomplished! This past Saturday, I ran in my first ever 5K! What's weird is that it doesn't feel like as much of an accomplishment as I thought it would.... It all started in June and I should be proud because it was an ordeal. First of, who wants to run in June-August in Houston, Texas? No sane person, but that's when I started running. I was loyal and faithful to my running programs. The first week in September I joined a running group and I didn't miss a meeting. 
The truth is running is even harder than I thought it was (at least for me), and I don't think I've even begun to tap into what it's taught me. Not to be too dramatic, but running is a good teacher. It's like the army sergeant you never had in your life - relentless, unapologetic, honest, and mean. There may be no better teacher concerning willpower and discipline than running. 
I am extremely grateful for my experience with running (and it's not over!). As I was passing the first mile marker on Saturday I felt discouraged because I thought only 1 mile?! I still have so far to go and I'm already tired. But then it hit me: 1 mile!!!!!!!! Just a few months ago 1 mile seemed impossible! Truly, impossible. Now, not only can I run 1 mile, but I can run 3! Well, actually 3.2. And just barely. One of the wonderful coaches, Lori, had to talk me through probably the last 1/2 mile of the race. But STILL, I went from a person who could barely run 60 seconds without wanting to give up to a person who ran 3.2 miles in 38 minutes and 39 seconds. To me, that's an accomplishment I am grateful for!
I think the best part of training for this 5K was meeting Kristen. We met the first night of the group and quickly became good friends. It's been so wonderful having a "running buddy" who is pretty much at the same level of ability as myself. We enjoyed running together, but I think we enjoyed even more going out for dinner and drinks after running. Next up, we're doing the Turkey Trot together on Thanksgiving morning! No really, who am I?
Kristen and me BEFORE the race. 

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