As unapologetic as it may sound, I want to say, still, that life has been pleasing these days.
A few years back, I heard a voice from my heart, saying that I have to change or my soul will be shattered if I go on with this lifestyle.
Back then it was all about work and duties, I was utterly depleted to do anything else, read or learn the subjects that intrigued me. With a drained mind, I felt suffocated even when I was off the clock. Why though? I asked myself why I had to lead such a tiring life.
It took me over two years to prepare myself to quit that lifestyle.
I could have just quitted it altogether. Growing up spoon-fed in this city, it was hard shaking off all the “shoulds” right away – I should be like this, how things should be handled, how a grownup should behave around the unspoken rules, etc. So, however weary, I should plan my exit well. It was at first a bit of struggle whether or not to leave the lifestyle and work I was so accustomed to but then I realised it was an unescapable change, or, as I see it now, growth. Once the goal was set, the rest was easy, and I felt assured and relieved. I finally started living the way I wished.
I was having lunch the other day with an old friend who returned from a months-long trip. Over the fall menu featuring pumpkin, walnut and saffron; cured white fish and deer, white truffle and artichoke; figs, dark chocolate and young pigeon; fine wine and champagne the sommelier curated for us, we talked about the recent past the near future neither of us could be certain of. With hesitation in the air, we couldn’t be sure where we would be tomorrow or next year. And then, an acquaintance happened to be at the restaurant at that time, and he asked about me. I said I’m taking a break from the job which I quitted earlier this year. He couldn’t get it, and asked again, “so, you aren’t working all this time?” Now I gave it a thought. Oh, I actually took on some consulting job, completed a project for some company, shot a series of photos for some clients and so on. To be honest, I’ve completely forgotten work I have done once the job was finished. How could you lead such a life, asked the workaholic. In a soft grin, I said something random to wrap up the conversation, and took a pumpkin scone, wrapped in parchment paper, from my bag and handed it to him. It’s freshly baked this morning, I said, and handed another one to my girl friend. While he dashed, he, again, said I should work for him and we should be in touch.
My friend and I followed his departure with two desserts
Friends who didn’t see me for some time said I look so much at ease now, brows unknitted. I have been working only on jobs I like, learning subjects that interest me and living intendedly in awareness, which, in the perspectives from most people, probably translates to an impetuous life leading to nowhere. However, I LIVE fully every day. It wasn’t easy to steer away from a life one’s familiar with, but I feel grateful for having the awareness and courage to follow my intuition. Leaving behind the “shoulds” and letting go allow me to live with peace, joy and gratitude, which in turn bringing the same to people around me. Life is good enough then. Living free and pleased sounds luxurious but it is not; it does not mean a life without hurdles but a life where you can spare the mind in everyday chores to face difficulties and have the soulful energy to move forward.
For the scones
All purpose flour 200g + more for dusting
Rye flour 50g
Cinnamon powder ½ teaspoon
Sea salt ½ teaspoon
Brown sugar 50g + 10g to taste
Coarse brown sugar For dusting
Baking powder 2.5 teaspoons
Vanilla 1 teaspoon
Fresh pumpkin puree 220g
Buttermilk 80ml + wash for the scones
Unsalted butter 120g
For the glaze
Unsalted butter 8g
Maple syrup 15ml
Powdered sugar 30g
Drinking water To taste
Remove seeds from a Japanese pumpkin (kabocha squash), cut the pumpkin into large wedges and steam them for 8 minutes until the flesh turns soft and easily penetrable with a chopstick. Let cool for a few minutes.
Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the skin and mash it with a fork or potato masher. Set 220g aside. The rest can be kept in the freezer and made into pumpkin soup, pasta sauce, croquet, etc. This recipe is based on a very sweet pumpkin. You can taste the pumpkin puree at this step. If it is not very sweet, add 10g more brown sugar in the next step.
Mix the flour, cinnamon powder, sea salt, brown sugar and baking powder in a large bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together an egg and the pumpkin puree, buttermilk and vanilla until everything is well combined.
With a box grater, quickly grate a stick of very cold butter on the large-hole side.
Quickly mix the butter with the flour mixture with a fork or fingers until it forms pea-sized sandy crumbs. Cold butter is the key to flakey scones.
Pour half of the pumpkin mixture into the buttered crumbs, mix well gently, pour the remaining mixture and mix well gently.
On a floured surface and with floured hands, form the dough into a ball and then into a disc about 1.5-inch thick. Cut the dough into 8 equal wedges and transfer them onto baking paper. Keep the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200 °C.
For the glaze, brown the butter over medium heat and pour it into a bowl to let cool until it is warm enough to touch. Add maple syrup to the brown butter, mix well. Add the powdered sugar to the butter mixture, mix until no lumps in the glaze. Consistency of maple syrups varies, so, if the glaze is too thick, thin it up with drinking water, a few drops at a time. Set the glaze aside.
Take the scones out from the fridge, brush them with buttermilk and sprinkle with coarse brown sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes until they turn golden brown. Remove them from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
Give the glaze a stir and drizzle it over the warm scones. Enjoy them with a cup of tea right away.
It’s raining outside, crisp and bleak. Three chubby sparrows took shelter on my balcony and I gave them the baguette bits left on my breakfast plate but they flew away. I stayed in, played Damien Rice on vinyl and made apple crumble. Repeat.