Twenty years on, my mother was an American, but not American. She’d kept her Irish ways - rosaries and novenas, candle flickering in front of the Sacred Heart, overcooked vegetables, a kettle on the boil. She was tough, her wit often as hard as her wooden spoon. She was a terrible cook, except for a few dishes - chicken cacciatore (of all things), soup, scone. My mother’s scone was the best.
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Butter and flour pan.
3 cups flour 1 cup raisins
1 cup sugar salt
3 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda
Make a well in the middle
In another bowl, beat one egg and some buttermilk. Mix with dry ingredients. If too sticky, add flour, too dry, add liquid. Form the dough, put into pan, flour the top, make a cross on top with your knuckle. Bake about an hour. When knife comes out clean, turn off oven, flip loaf and let underside get the heat.
She made scone all the time, but only measured ingredients when forced to, only wrote down the recipe at someone’s behest. I remember an index card with the recipe written in her script, buttery smudges on the edge where her fingers held the card. But it’s been years, so many years, since I’ve seen that card.
She was not a demonstrative woman, my mother. She did not say I love you often or nearly enough. But when we came home from school, she made us scone and hot, milky tea. She served them at the kitchen table where we sat in the late afternoon glow, the bread warm, the butter melting and dripping off our tongues, through our fingers. Time takes so much: recipes and index cards, mothers and fathers, leaving only memories, smudged and buttery.
Mary Finnegan is a nurse and writer living in Philadelphia. Her essays and poetry have appeared in PILGRiM and New Verse News.