In Search of the Perfect Gluten Free Scone

I love drinking hot tea. I favor herbal teas, such as lemon balm or rose hops, or Scottish blends containing heather or thistle. When I visited Scotland for the first time in 2014, I came home with a delightful new tradition…afternoon tea.

The typical Scottish or English tea includes finger sandwiches, tiny cakes, shortbread cookies and a scone. Those foods are no longer a part of my diet. And while I enjoy having tea with fresh fruit or veggies, or just a plain cup of tea, I would love to be able to include scones again.

The search for the perfect gluten free scone was on!

The problem is, I require a recipe that is not only gluten free, but also dairy, egg and sugar free as well. Such a scone has been difficult to find! A couple of weeks ago I tried a gluten free scone mix. These weren’t bad! They looked more like flat sugar cookies, without being sweet at all. I ate them with a side of fruit. But they weren’t exactly what I was searching for.

Tonight, encouraged by my recent successes with what I have dubbed “intuitive cooking”, I decided to try making healthy scones from scratch.

This batch was created using 2 cups of gluten free flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla, 1 tablespoon raw organic honey and for leavening, I mixed together 1 tablespoon of potato starch and 3 tablespoons of cold water. I mixed the ingredients, and then added unsweetened almond coconut milk, a tablespoon at a time, until a dough formed that would hold its shape. I ended up adding 7 tablespoons of almond coconut milk.

I turned the dough ball out onto a floured surface, using more gluten free flour, and gently shaped it into a sphere. The sphere of dough was cut into eight pieces and transferred to a pizza pan lined with parchment paper. I brushed the tops of the scones with a mixture of unsweetened almond coconut milk and raw organic honey and baked for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

The scones looked good! They smelled good. The taste was closer to what I am searching for. However, to quote a U2 song…“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”. The texture wasn’t light enough. Rather, these scones were dense and chewy.

So, back to the kitchen I will go soon, for attempt number three. I am not discouraged. Every experiment in cooking teaches me something new, something important. I take notes about the process and ingredients I use so I can make adjustments. I believe I need a good leavening agent, something other than eggs.

I will do more research and try again. For evening tea, I had tasty, chewy scones! Nothing is wasted here…not food and not time. I create, I learn, I create again. I’ll let you know when I come up with that elusive gluten, dairy, egg, sugar free scone!

Healthy Pumpkin Mug Cake

As I was contemplating tea time this afternoon, I considered what treat I could have with my Scottish tea. Afternoon teas have changed drastically since I switched to a plant based diet. No more scones, finger sandwiches or shortbread cookies for me. Instead I’ve had fresh fruit or a Lara bar, which are made of simple whole foods. Often I’ve just skipped tea time altogether. 

However this afternoon I opened up Pinterest, searching for an easy, healthy treat idea. The first post I saw, without even typing anything into the search bar, was a recipe for Healthy Pumpkin Mug Cake. Perfect! I had pumpkin purée left over from Thanksgiving. I slightly adapted the recipe and came up with this super simple mug cake for one, using ingredients I had on hand. 

Healthy Pumpkin Mug Cake


Any gluten free flour could be used. I had these two on hand. Coconut milk could be substituted for almond…keep it unsweetened…and pecans could replace walnuts. The point is to keep the ingredients wholesome and healthy. 

The pumpkin mug cake turned out so well! I don’t like anything to be very sweet so this subtly sweet richness was exactly right for me. The pumpkin, cinnamon and walnuts tasted like fall. 

Paired with a cup of hot Scottish Thistle tea, this was a wonderfully satisfying afternoon tea time. And best of all, this mug cake was good for me. 

Time for Tea, Time for Me

This was a busy day, in a busy week that will continue at such a pace through the weekend. I do not have big blocks of time for creative projects. However, these daily actions have become quite important to me, and it is crucial to make time for what is vital to me. The universe seems to be aware of my schedule. 

Today I drew:

Have tea in the garden. 

Some of my creative activities take more time to complete than others. During this packed out week, I’m consistently selecting activities that aren’t time consuming. This ongoing conversation with the Divine…it delights and amazes me. I sighed with happiness over today’s action.

Because of the warm temperatures today, I had a late tea. And rather than sitting in the backyard garden, I chose to have tea on my covered front deck. My house is surrounded by gardens. The backyard paradise is by far the most extensive one, however, I enjoy spending time working in all of them. 

I have container gardens on the breezy front deck, a ficus tree and five hanging baskets. When I drew this slip of paper, I knew this was the perfect location for an evening cup of tea. 

I began my tea time experience by brewing a cup using fresh thyme from my garden. I snipped a couple of sprigs and steeped them in hot water for 20 minutes. Thyme has many health benefits, including warding off colds and flus. Unfortunately, this afternoon I have felt like I am catching a cold. In spite of the day’s warmth, I looked forward to sipping this hot savory brew. 

While the tea steeped in a covered cup, I set up a small wooden table on the deck and covered it with a vintage tablecloth. A small vase of daisies adorned the table. I lit 28 candles in various holders scattered around the deck. I know…who does that when it’s hot outside? The one who loves being surrounded by beauty and having her heart pierced by it. 

I settled into the porch swing as the sky darkened, flickering candlelight soothing me as much as the steaming thyme tea. Fireflies appeared around the deck, their flashing lights mimicking the twinkling flames on the deck. Peace surrounded me as well, diminishing my weariness and the throbbing in my head. 

The arrow of desire did not fly far to strike its intended target today. Quite simply, I needed this break, this time of quieting myself and slowing down and practicing loving self care. I’m tired and not feeling my best…and I drew an action that asked me to hit the pause button for a few minutes. These are all strong signals that I need to pay attention to myself and adjust what I’m doing. 

So many cultures around the world practice an afternoon tea time. The British and Scottish are well known for this daily tradition, as are the Chinese and Japanese. I love the custom. It is fairly easy for me to observe tea time in the winter months. I tend to skip it during the warmer seasons. I must remedy that. 

Henry James said, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

That hour is very agreeable indeed. And sustaining and refreshing and restorative. Perhaps I’ll attach this slip of paper to the whiteboard in my studio, as a visible daily reminder to take time for tea, take time for me. 

Surrender 110: Mad Hatter Vignette

I had fun this afternoon, creating fresh vignettes within two vintage pieces…the wooden sieve that graces the dining room table and the suitcase atop the bedroom chest of drawers. I enjoy expressing my creativity by changing the vignettes often, using an eclectic mix of old and new pieces. 


The wooden sieve vignette is simple. It features an antique crocheted doily, a pair of white porcelain birds, speckled eggs in a white footed bowl and fresh flowers in a white pitcher. I love the turquoise metal sign tucked in at the back. It reads, “Believe you can and you are halfway there.”  I believe! 

I had a great time creating the vignette in the old suitcase. A couple of weeks ago, my sister Debbie brought me a special gift, a framed print she and my niece made, using a delightful quote from the Mad Hatter. I recently published a blog post that contained quotes from this cheeky Alice in Wonderland character. This was one of the quotes I used, because of my love of tea time, and Debbie remembered. 

Using the framed print as the focal point, I created a new vignette, using items I’d never grouped together before. The silky scarf, the gold teapot, the gold tea light holder and all the tea cups recently came from the house in Arkansas, keepsakes that belonged to Greg’s mother. The hand painted vase of the woman’s head sporting a hat was given to me by Leta many, many years ago. It fits in perfectly with a Mad Hatter theme. 

I lit tea lights in the candle holder, and within the stacked tea cups, the thin glass allowing the light to glow softly. Serendipitously, as I played with the vignette, it was tea time. I brewed a cup of Scottish tea, sipping the steaming liquid as I finished the arrangement. I raised my cup and toasted my work, and the Mad Hatter. 

You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are. 

I’m sure he approved. 


Surrender 81: March Mad…Hatter

It’s been a long day. This late in the evening I’m in the middle of a real estate offer, as I also create my blog post. I chose to write a brief post, and have fun. March Madness is going on in the world of basketball. I decided to go more into the world of the Mad Hatter! 


While sorting through treasures in the Arkansas house today, I carefully wrapped up this unique vase, painted by Leta Moore. This porcelain head sports a colorful flowered hat. 

Which reminded me…

…I had previously come across a bright pink flowered hat in the closet. I have not been able to toss it yet. The former wearer of this work of art was most likely Leta’s mother. 


Which reminded me…

…earlier this year I stumbled upon a fun new tradition for this year…a black and white picture each month of me wearing a different hat.  I wore a stocking cap in January and a gardening hat in February. I suddenly knew what to do with the pink Easter-type hat. 

Which reminded me…

…of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, who is actually quite wise in his observations about the world. I can identify with his character and his witty remarks. And he appreciates tea time. 

Which reminds me…

…I’d like a cup of steaming hot tea, right now. And I still have work to do!


Journey 117: Afternoon Tea with Aubrey

Afternoon with Aubrey

I enjoy getting to pick my granddaughter up from school occasionally. Lately, we haven’t had time to do much more than spend a few minutes together as I transported her home. Today, knowing we had a bit more time allotted, Aubrey asked if we could have afternoon tea together.

I love that this little girl enjoys so many of the things that I also enjoy. We can share those experiences and create memories at the same time. Of course, I was thrilled to have tea with her. Because I am limiting my sugar intake, I don’t have sweets at home. Therefore, we opted to have afternoon tea at Panera, where Aubrey could have iced sweet tea instead of the hot tea that I drink. And with the wonderful selection of treats available there, I knew we could find tea appropriate foods.

I selected a shortbread cookie and a blueberry scone to accompany my hot English Breakfast tea. Aubrey carefully studied the selection of goodies before choosing a mini chocolate cupcake with chocolate cream icing, a chocolate chip muffin top, and a couple of slices of sourdough bread. Panera very graciously gave her the bread slices, which is not a frequent request at the restaurant. Aubrey loves bread. That was the first treat she devoured.

We had a lovely tea, seated near the large front windows of Panera, laughing together, chatting, sipping our tea, or in Aubrey’s case, slurping it through her straw. She is an accomplished conversationalist and I always delight in her insights and perspective on life. As we were finishing our tea time, Aubrey noticed sparrows hopping about outside on the sidewalk, searching for tidbits of food. She asked if she could toss her bread crusts outside, for the birds to enjoy. Darting out onto the front sidewalk, she tore her crusts into sections and dropped them before rushing back inside.

She had barely returned to her chair to watch out the window when the first sparrow reappeared, eyeing the bread crusts. In moments, there were a dozen birds pecking at the bread, attempting to pick it up, tossing bits into the air. We spent several cheerful minutes watching the antics of the sparrows, laughing as one bird and then another flew a short distance, low to the parking lot, carrying a bit of bread while other birds flocked after it.

What a relaxed, happy tea time we shared today. I am so grateful for Aubrey’s idea. I cherish the prospect of this tradition of ours continuing as she grows into adulthood. Someday, she can host afternoon tea for her own daughters….and perhaps she will invite her Yaya.

afternoon with Aubrey tea time

Day 295: Tea Time with Mimi Leta’s Vintage Teacup

Mimis thistle teacup late tea 2

Today’s first involved a very late tea time with fresh biscuits courtesy of Cracker Barrel. With a pat of butter and blackberry jam added to the hot biscuits, this simple tea was an easy delicious dinner. What made this one special was the use, for the first time, of a vintage teacup from the collection of Leta Moore.

Greg’s mom, Leta Mae Davidson Moore, introduced me to the joy of drinking hot tea years ago, when I was a young woman in my late teens. She favored tea over coffee and would prepare both of us a cup of the fragrant hot drink with a dollop of milk added. We would sit in her homey kitchen and sip tea and chat. Her grandparents, George Davidson and Sarah Pearson Davidson, were originally from England, and settled in the Wichita, KS area. It makes so much sense to me now. I expect the custom of tea time was handed down in her family, from those English grandparents. I don’t know for sure. Mimi Leta, as my children affectionately called her, passed away 15 years ago. Unfortunately, I never asked her how she acquired her love for hot tea, I simply enjoyed the treat with her.

Mimi Leta collected teacups and saucers. Family and friends knew about her love for tea time and frequently added to her collection. I’ve stood many times and looked at the teacups and saucers on display still in her home. Recently, after my return from Scotland, Greg’s dad allowed me to select several sets to bring home, to use with my own tea time.

As I slowly studied the collection, a teacup and saucer caught my attention. I couldn’t believe I had never noticed this one before! Because of my days spent in Scotland, and my raised awareness of all things Scottish, I spied a delicate teacup and saucer set covered with thistle, the national flower of Scotland! Holding the cup carefully, I knew I had found the set that was destined to become mine.

Mimis thistle teacup

I googled the stamp found on the bottom of the cup. The set was made by Aynsley, a china company in Staffordshire, England, that has been creating fine bone china since 1775. Called, appropriately, the Thistle Pattern, this design is from 1951 and is no longer available. I don’t know if Leta bought this cup and saucer set herself, or if it was a gift. I will cherish it.

I have been saving the set, to use as a first experience. I chose to enjoy the teacup this evening. Because of the gold gilding, I will never place this bone china cup in the microwave to create a quick cup of tea. Both the gilding and the age of the cup called for the more traditional brewing of tea in my white teapot and the careful pouring of the tea into the cup. As I savored the Scottish Highland Tea, I thought of Mimi Leta. Oh, the questions I wish I could ask her now and the conversations we could have. Every time I enjoy a cup of tea in the thistle teacup, I will think of her, with gratitude, and I will think of Scotland. I will image her sitting across from me, smiling with approval. Someday, we will share tea time again, and all my questions will be answered!

Mimis thistle teacup late tea