Learning To Cook (Reluctantly): I Made You Some Goddamn Scones

grocery store

So, my battle with grocery stores wages onward.

Look, I like my grocery store as much as I can like an awful disconcerting nightmareplace, but of course they don’t have baking powder. They did have buttermilk, which made me feel badly about going up to some salesclerk and saying “I’m sorry, do you not have buttermilk?”, as though buttermilk were a dietary staple. Hah! I don’t even really know what buttermilk is. Butter combined with milk? Maybe. Maybe. In any event, they had it, and she was very nice about it. But they did not have baking powder, which meant I had to walk to another grocery store which is… awful. Why do they never have everything you need in one easy to locate aisle? Why? Why?


Obviously, I wanted to offer up another song about supermarkets being distressing, but I guess the Clash is the only group who have chosen to grab on to that particular low hanging fruit, so here’s The Fields of Athenry, which is also about food making all kinds of problems for people.

So! Don’t steal corn. Good talk.

Now, a scone recipe.

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    • Ellen W.

      I go tupperware-knockoff from the grocery store in a bag. I have lots of bags- groceries, totes, free-with-purchase- so that’s easy for me. Don’t do the flimsy plastic bags from the grocery store though because they get caught on things/people on the subway and break and then the tupperware falls and the cookies shatter and you have to tell everyone that they started out looking good but broke on the way over.

      PS They look so pretty!

    • Cassie

      You could store them in one of these probably (with wax paper between the layers if you had too many to fit in one layer):


    • Sarah

      But Jennifer! A pound isn’t always 2 cups, because a pound is a measure of weight, and the cups are a measure of volume. The mix-up comes from fluid ounces (volume) and ounces of weight (like 16 ounces to a pound). 2 cups of cotton would weigh less than 2 cups of lead, they wouldn’t both come to a pound. My roommate bakes a lot and she has a small kitchen scale to deal with these british recipes. Might be a good thing to get if you are to continue this excellent “learning to cook” column? (Which is fantastic)

      • Jennifer Wright

        OH SHIT.

    • Em

      You can glaze scones with egg yolk, and you can make buttermilk by adding lemon juice to normal milk.

      I like substituting like this because I’m more likely to have eggs (maybe) and normal milk (probably) than cream and buttermilk. Which means less time in the often soul-destroying grocery store. And less dairy products going bad in my fridge. And tiny amounts of saved money to put towards awesome purses and/or shoes. And above all, the feeling that you somehow, very cleverly have made the recipe sit up and take notice of your amazing kitchen competence. You know, “Tell me what to do will you? I’ll tell YOU what you SHOULD have told me to do!”

      P.S. Congratulations on using a recipe that gives you amounts in weight. I hate that so very much!! Endless conversions=deal breaker. Which sucks, because I have a Nigella Lawson book that looks like it would be fantastic! Maybe there’s an online converter…like currency?

      • Meghan Keane

        Em, You have pointed out the most confusing thing about buttermilk – the easiest substitute is regular milk with lemon juice. Which is basically curdled milk? And then you learn that “buttermilk” is a rather inaccurate euphemism.

      • Em

        I know!! I remember being about 12 years old, and thinking, “What is this lovely thing they call buttermilk? Boy, does it sound tasty!” And then I found out that it’s just milk that’s gotten nice and chewy. Mmmm. Also, I’m told vinegar works well too, but for some reason adding lemon juice to make it curdle grosses me out less than vinegar.

    • MR

      So you’re trying to tell me British scones are better due to their cockamamie system? :) I like your box idea, it was very creative.

    • Simone G

      I always get american recipies and have to convert them to metric since I live in Brazil, but can live without the yummy food I had in my exchange, so to runaway from math I just use this http://www.convert-me.com/en/convert/cooking it’s amazing and no more kitchen math.

      • MR

        Como a cantora brasileira: “Caminhando”. :)

    • Heather P.

      I love your cooking thought process! It makes me feel like i’m not alone in my incomprehension of this whole cooking thing! I think I would add one suggestion:

      Baking Soda: Don’t use the box sitting in the back of your fridge or your baked goods will taste really old smelly plastic.

      Yeah, I learned that one the hard way…

    • m

      I live in Germany, and the idea of “a cup” as a measurement unit is hilarious. Complaining about pounds, converting pound to ounces and cups… grams are so nicely linear.

      30 grams? alright. 250 grams? okay! one unit for everything. EVERYTHING!

    • Sarah!

      Wtf what? Was the grocery store out of baking powder or did they not carry it at all? I find that hard to believe! I think you were talking to the new girl at the grocery store. I think you got punked.

    • Candace

      Also baking powder is just cornstarch and baking soda mixed (cream of tartar also if you have it- if not you can leave it out)