Is there a better phrase to use that neither sounds as casual as “I quit my job” nor as momentous as “I retired” for when one has stopped working? These two options just don’t seem appropriate for me, though technically, they’re both correct. What started out as a temporary stint at my husband’s company (as in “Can you help us for three months?”) turned into an eight-year gig with increased responsibility. As of two weeks ago, I no longer have a day job. I’ve flipped the page to a new chapter in my life and as silly as it sounded to my former colleagues to hear me say, “I’m not sure what I’ll do with my time,” it really hasn’t sunk in yet.
We had discussed this event on many occasions over the last few years, my husband and I. He is retired, too, so this opens up a lot of opportunities for us to see and do the things we’ve always talked about. I don’t take for granted for one minute that I am able to do this at this stage in my life; I’m truly grateful. Once I adjust to this new routine, I intend to fill my time with worthwhile pursuits.
Volunteer work is high on the list. I’ve really missed my time at Stanford Hospital. Fostering friendships with the General Surgery staff and being able to interact with patients’ family members for a few hours a week was so much more rewarding than I ever imagined it could be. Maybe I’ll finally be able to get involved in some church programs, too. It’s been far too long since I’ve been part of a church community.
As for my husband, he has travel on his mind. I’ve suggested another road trip to Utah to visit the national parks. If you’ve never been to Zion National Park or Bryce Canyon or to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, I highly recommend them all.
I was also recently introduced to a new type of tour in Rome and Naples that food-minded and archaeology enthusiasts like me might appreciate. Elifant Archaeo-Culinary Tours hosts guided tours in Rome and Naples (they’re adding more locations for 2016). A mutual friend led to an email introduction to one of the owners of the company, Elizabeth Bartman, an expert in Ancient Roman art and archaeology. Elifant offers small-group trips centered around ancient art, history and food. This is EXACTLY the kind of tour I would love to participate in, especially given my fascination with ancient grains/food. A return to Rome is on the agenda and when it happens, this tour will be on the itinerary.
But baby steps. For now, I’ve signed up for a series of knitting classes–a small item easily checked off the bucket list and a plan that elicited chuckles from a few friends when I told them about it (You? Knitting? Really?). I bought several succulents at the Half Moon Bay Nursery, too, on one of my first “retirement days”. It’s time to re-pot and re-arrange the flora in my yard. And an art class is also on the horizon. On second thought, this retirement thing may not be so bad after all…
The weeks leading to my last day at the office were busy. I baked these biscuits but never got around to sharing them here. I used einkorn flour, the first form of cultivated wheat. It is purely by coincidence that I am sharing this recipe using ancient grain at the same time as I mention Elifant Tours and I’m delighted by the perfect tie-in!
These savory biscuits are big on flavor and were inspired by my Pumpkin Cheddar Scones. The key differences: I used whole grain flour, leftover roasted sweet potato instead of pumpkin, added scallions and granulated garlic, omitted the eggs and used nutritional yeast instead of cheddar. Feel free to use traditional ingredients (all-purpose flour, eggs and cheddar) but I promise you that you won’t mind them here at all. If you’ve considered exploring healthier options in baking, this recipe would be a good one to try. The egg substitute and nutritional yeast mitigate the presence of butter and milk when you are mindful of cholesterol like we are in our household. The nutritional yeast adds lots of nutty, cheesy flavor and the granulated garlic complements it very well. If you’re accustomed to baking biscuits with all-purpose flour, you will find these a little denser but the nutritional gain from the sweet potato and the alternate ingredients makes the swaps worth it to me. These biscuits would add substance to a light meal of winter salad and comforting soup–just the kind of meal I can now see enjoying for lunch after a morning in the yard…or after knitting class!
Note: Lewis Labs is the only brand of nutritional yeast I use and it’s easy to order on Amazon (here).
- 2½ cups einkorn flour (or all-purpose flour)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Few turns of freshly ground pepper
- 1½ teaspoons granulated garlic (not garlic salt)
- ½ cup cold butter, cut in cubes
- 3 stalks scallions, green parts only, chopped
- ½ cup nutritional yeast (my favorite is the Lewis Labs brand; feel free to use cheddar if that's your preference)
- ¾ cup (157 grams) roasted sweet potato purée (See Note)
- Egg substitute equivalent to 2 eggs (I used Bob's Red Mill Egg Replacer; you can use 2 eggs)
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons milk plus more for brushing scones
- Preheat your oven to 425℉. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, granulated garlic and nutritional yeast in a large mixing bowl. Work in the butter using a pastry cutter until the mixture is a little crumbly. Stir in the chopped scallions and cheese (if you're using cheese instead of the nutritional yeast).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet potato purée, 2 tablespoons milk and egg substitute (or two eggs). Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and add the ¼ cup milk gradually as you stir the mixture together. You may not need to use the entire ¼ cup milk but I did. This dough may be a little sticky.
- Scrape the dough onto a lightly-floured work surface, shape it into a round and flatten with your hand until the dough is roughly ½ - ¾ inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter to cut a piece of dough and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. I used a large cookie cutter (3-inches) so this batch yielded 9 biscuits. Reshape the dough into a disk and cut round pieces with your cookie cutter until all the dough has been used up. You can use a smaller cookie cutter; baking time will be a minute or two shorter.
- Brush the tops with a little milk and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, depending on biscuit size. Serve warm. These will keep in the refrigerator and are great toasted the next day.