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Sweatpants & Parenting | Sconetastrophe: Life Lessons from Mo Willems

By Stephanie Pappas

After three nights of sleep and two days off coffee, I was ready to get back to life as usual. I opened D’s door to find a cheerful, rested kiddo, so I suggested we bake for breakfast. Twenty minutes later, he hadn’t come down to the kitchen. It’s hard to resist the siren song of Roll & Whistle Thomas, even with imminent scones.

I was proud that – with moving boxes covering the counters and half of the floor – I even had scone ingredients in the house, so mixing those ingredients together at 7:00 a.m. made me feel especially accomplished. After I’d measured flour and cream of tartar, D wandered down.

“Three kinds of cereal. Yeah?”

I poured his selections into a bowl and put it on the kitchen island, next to his stepstool. Baking soda. Salt. Sugar.

“No no no no just Honey Chee-ros.”

I gave him a paper plate onto which he could toss all of the offending cereal. Butter.

“Some milk.”

Good timing. I needed milk anyway. A cup for him, 3/4 cup for me.

The moment I started stirring, something was wrong. A cup for him, 1 3/4 cups for me. Ugh.

Looking down at the tiny island of dry ingredients in the lake of milk, I flashed through the past two weeks: the careless packing from one of our movers that left items damaged; the sloppy work from various contractors that we hadn’t noticed until after closing; the washer and dryer that weren’t here on moving day; the air conditioner that was here, but not working on that 90-degree day; the spouse’s injury, which means we can’t explore parks and museums in our new town; the child who could not be convinced to sleep even with a defeat-captain-Hook number of green clocks.

But then I took a deep breath and thought about Gerald.

Gerald the Elephant, one of the titular characters of Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books, is sort of my spirit animal. He’s a caring friend. He knows parties. But he’s also insecure, a stickler for rules, and persnickety about things going exactly to plan.

Our most recent favorite – found during our own eerily Willems-esque search for a lost bunny – is Should I Share My Ice Cream? Gerald endures a classic struggle about sharing, and, although he triumphs, he does so too late to enjoy his ice cream, which has melted during the course of his inner monologue. But – spoiler alert – Piggie comes along soon thereafter, and, seeing her friend looking so sad, offers to share her own ice cream.

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Cute, right? But the best part is Gerald’s closing analysis: “That was not my plan. Oh, well…This works too.”

With Gerald in mind, I tossed more flour in the bowl and hoped for the best. Ten minutes later, all that extra liquid started dripping over the side of the cookie sheet onto the floor of the brand-new oven. D took that moment to decide he was fascinated by the yet-to-be-baby-proofed oven door. So I grabbed my camera, sat down in front of the door to prevent it from opening, and had D practice with the ISO settings so that we could capture my sconetastrophe in all its dripping buttery glory.

When we sat down to eat, I looked at my as-yet-unpacked kitchen, my unintentionally fried scones, and my happy kid in the middle of it all and thought: “Oh, well…This works too.”

If you’d like to make your own scones—perhaps even intentionally fried ones—read on for a recipe.

Scotch Oven Scones, adapted from The Golden Years 1932-1982, compiled by the Ladies Auxillary, Lutheran Church of Our Saviour, Valley Stream, New York

Note: These are not the dessert-masquerading-as-breakfast scones you find at pastry shops. These are savory, biscuit-like scones that complement whatever you want to spread on them. Jam and chocolate are great options, but goat cheese, herbs, and last night’s leftovers are equally delicious toppings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. butter, cold
  • 3/4 c. milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.

Work the butter into the flour mixture. If you’re fancy and have a pastry blender, have at it. But if you don’t have one, two knives or even just your fingers will do the trick. The goal is to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like fine meal.

Pour in the milk and stir until it forms a soft dough. [If you want to have intentionally fried scones, add an extra cup of milk and 1 extra cup of flour during this step.]

Divide dough in half. Roll each half out on a floured surface to 3/4 inch thick. Cut dough across in both directions, making 4 pie-shaped sections each.

Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet. [If you’re making the intentionally fried version, opt for a jelly roll pan or other pan with high sides.]

Bake for ten minutes, or until tops of scones are golden.


As a professor turned stay-at-home parent, Stephanie Loomis Pappas is in the glory of not knowing what she’s doing. She started snackdinner.com to write about just that, and to offer inspiration to parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, and others who want to teach kids to make magic out of the ordinary. You can find snackdinner on Facebook and Instagram.

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