‘Excuse me, is this seat taken?’
‘No, come sit next to me. Hey, you’re one of the other…’
And so started our first lunchtime conversation, and a friendship that has seen us through eight years of every hill and valley of life’s path. Casey is one of the beautiful people that you chance across in life. A force of nature in every wonderful way, she doesn’t ease into conversations, or tip-toe around the edges. She lives as she cooks: everything in, trying as she goes, and with a voracious appetite for the process as well as the end product. I have been lucky enough to be by her side in the kitchen, at the dining room table, and in the big wide world since we met all those years ago during our first year of university. We have travelled the USA together and been wide-eyed young women at the splendour of cities like we have never seen before; we crammed for chemistry, exercise physiology, and dietetic exams together; watched each other choose to go back to university when we decided that we simply had to know more about the world, she to medicine (almost Dr Casey, almost) and me to the world of words; we have held each other through showers of tears, flooding, soaking tears, and she has dug me out of pits in my soul that are too deep to plumb alone; together we have danced, and tasted, and delighted at the offerings of the world.
In two weeks my best friend marries the love of her life, Matthew, and my soul is alight with happiness for them. I can’t wait to stand by her side in the church and watch this precious moment in their lives.
This weekend we are going away on a girl’s weekend before the pre-event preparations get into full swing, and I have made a batch of these, Casey’s favourite accompaniment to a wedge of strong cheddar or feta, to take away with us. My recommendation: make a batch of these, call one of your best friends, and talk the night away with one of those you love the most right by your side.
Caramelised Onion and Cumin Scones
This recipe makes about 20 scones. They are best served fresh, or the next day, and they freeze particularly well. Simply wait for them to cool, pop into an airtight bag and squeeze all the air out, then freeze until required. They only take about 20-30 seconds to warm up in the microwave and will keep in the freezer for about 2 months – if they last that long. They are delightful as part of a cheese platter, or warmed up with some melting butter for a peckish Casey…
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small brown onion (or red)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 3/4 cups self raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 tablespoons butter, chilled
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons raw sugar
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line a baking tray with paper.
- Heat olive oil in a small saucepan and add onion, reduce heat to low and sauté until the onion becomes translucent. Then add 1/2 teaspoon of the ground cumin and cook for a further minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin, salt, pepper, oats, and sugar.
- Add the chilled butter and use a butter knife to ‘cut’ the butter into the dough until it resembles pebbly breadcrumbs. Keep a light touch here, and don’t worry about a few small lumps of butter.
- Add the walnuts, thyme, and cooled onion. Mix in using your butter knife.
- Make a well in the centre, and pour in the buttermilk. Stir with the knife until a shaggy, damp dough begins to form.
- Turn out onto a floured bench and pat into a disk that is about an inch thick. Use a 1 1/2 inch pastry cutter to cut out the scones and place on the lined baking tray.
- Slide into the preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden on top.
- Remove and serve right away, or wait until they are room temperature.
My dear reader, how did you meet some of your best friends? Is there any meal that brings them to mind?