Sunday, 9 May 2010

Treacle Scones for Remembrance

Today is mother’s day here so I will share with you the story of a mother’s love. My mother-in-law died on Thursday last week. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer last year but the doctors were still uncertain about why her condition had suddenly deteriorated so quickly in recent weeks. Then she had a seizure on Sunday and E was told to get over there as soon as possible. He caught a plane from Melbourne a few days later and went straight from the airport to the hospice. His mother died 90 minutes after he arrived. Later he found out that the doctors had expected her to die on Monday. It seems her love kept her alive long enough for one last visit from her son.

To those of us who knew her, this was no surprise. All children were special to her but there was never any doubt that her son and daughter were cherished above all. When she died in her sleep, I believe that she died in peace, knowing that she was surrounded by her family.

Yet it seems that she has gone too soon. I will remember my mother-in-law as someone who was brimming with life, laughter and generosity. I wish Sylvia could get to know her and be showered with her love. I wish my mother-in-law could see Sylvia grow and develop. We are glad, however, that at least they spent time together on our trip to Scotland last year. My mother-in-law loved watching Sylvia play with the Beatrix Potter blocks and E’s toy rubber ball that she had kept all these years.

She had a wonderful tea towel collection, as I have discussed before, and she had a fine appreciation of good food. She loved the Hydro, the Park Hotel and the Kingsmuir Hotel in Peebles, where she lived most of the time I knew her. On her visit to Melbourne a few years ago, we ate out at lots of wonderful places including The Stokehouse, Monsalvat and high tea at the Windsor.

Most of all, when I think about meals with my mother-in-law, I remember her talent at gathering people together over a meal. So though I don’t have special recipes from her I thought it might be a good time to share the recipe for Treacle Scones that I made for E’s birthday tea recently. They seem like a family recipe because he remembers his granny making them and they are just the sort of thing my mother-in-law would have loved at an afternoon tea.

I heard him talking about treacle scones long before I finally made them. Though the recipe didn’t directly come from his family, I found it in a Scottish cookbook that E’s sister (HH) gave me last Christmas. I expected them to be quite rich. They were gently spiced but not overly intense or sweet. Just like gingerbread in a scone. We ate them warm with melted butter and E was pleased that they were like his granny’s.

I am sure my mother-in-law would have loved to have been at E’s birthday tea. She missed E when he went to live in Australia but never said a word against him going. Instead, she delighted in his life down under. She loved birthdays, Christmas and always had a wonderful gift in the post. She was frequently on the phone and popping something in the post.

Her kindness and big heart will be fondly remembered by everyone who met her. My thoughts are with E's father and sister, and their extended family and friends who were embraced warmly by my mother-in-law. She will be missed dearly.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
this time last year:
Plum Chutney
this time two years ago:
Salad, Bread, an Event and a Meme
this time three years ago:
Seeking carrot dip in a sea of recipes

Treacle Scones
from Scottish Home Baking by Judy Patterson
I made lots of small ones but it would probably make about 12-16 regular scones

  • 225g plain white flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp black treacle
  • milk (not specified by the recipe - I used about 1/2 cup )
Place the dry ingredients into a large bowl (the recipe said to sift but I didn’t). Heat the butter and treacle and add to the dry ingredients. Add enough milk to make a soft dough. (Next time I might rub the butter in and then add milk and treacle together.)

Gently knead dough on a floured bench till smooth (this should take very little time – seconds rather than minutes) and then use your hands to pat the dough into a circle of about ½ inch height. Use a scone cutter (5cm diameter for regular scones) or a glass to cut into small circles.

Place on a lightly greased baking tray and brush with a little milk. Bake at 220 C or 425 F for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and look cooked on the bottom (if not looking cooked, bake another few minutes and keep your eye on them).

Update: I have made a couple of batches with less then 1/2 cup milk and they are quite sturdy rather than fluffy and light.  The last batch had 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp and it was much lighter.

On the Stereo:
The Very Best of Vera Lynn


  1. So sad Johanna. Give E a hug for me. You wrote the post very sensitively, I am sure E's mum would have appreciated all your warm words :)

  2. So sorry for the loss of your mother in law. She sounds like a special woman...someone I would love to have tea with. You sound a lot like that too! The Treacle Scones are something my Sweetie would enjoy as well.
    I have an award for you at my blog:

  3. Thinking of you, E and family - it's lovely that E had that last brief chance to see his mother.


  4. Sorry to hear that Johanna, but very glad E got to his mum in time.

  5. Thoughts to all of you Johanna. I'm so glad E got to see his mum, even for a little while. I hope her end was peaceful and her scones will live on :)

  6. Aww, sorry for your loss Johanna. x

  7. I'm really sorry, Johanna. My thoughts are with you and your family. It's awful how cancer strikes like that - a close friend of my mother's dies last year, less than a year after being diagnosed, and the same thing happened to her with the sudden and rapid deterioration.

    I know there's nothing I can say to make anything better, but I really am thinking of you and sending an internet hug through the ether. xoxo

  8. I'm so sorry to hear about your mother in law. I know how difficult it can be when someone is ill or passes away and is living in a different country. Sending kind thoughts to you and E during this time.

  9. So sorry to hear about your mother in law. My own mother had surgery for cancer about a month ago, and even though they think it was successful, it chills me to the bone to have that spectre in our lives. These scones look delightful - a fitting tribute to your mother in law.

  10. My thoughts are with your family. Your mother in law sounded wonderful & I love the idea of sharing a recipe in her memory xx

  11. I'm so sorry to hear the news... she sounded like a wonderful woman. Thinking of you and your family!

  12. Oh, Johanna, I'm so sorry to hear about E's mother! You have painted a picture of someone very special, warm, and loving. . . I am sure you will miss her terribly. At least Sylvia got to meet her, as you say. And this is a lovely tribute to her as well. Much sympathy to you, E and Sylvia.

  13. I'm so sorry for your loss Johanna.

  14. So sorry to hear the news, but so glad that E got there in time. My dad made the reverse journey to try to see his grandmother one more time - and also just made it. The family were convinced she was waiting for him. It makes me cry just to think of it! I'm glad that you found a nice way to remember her with your home-made scones, too.

  15. Thanks everyone for your kind thoughts and also for sharing your stories - though it is a sad time, it is a comfort to feel the warm embrace of the blogging community!

  16. Sorry to hear about your Mother in Law Johanna and E! How devastating and you have my deepest sympathies.

  17. I'm sorry I'm so late to this Johanna, I've been without internet, but I wanted to send my condolences to you and E too and say what a lovely portrait you've painted of your mother-in-law. It sounds as though she'll be sadly missed.


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