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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hospital Food 101: When is a scone a scone?

Like Granny McGowan used to make.
Though Plainfielders may only occasionally encounter it, the question may arise whether hospital food is 'food' as we commonly understand it. At least the thought occurred to me today when I ordered a 'raisin scone' for breakfast.

As my friends know, I come from the 'Mikey' school of food appreciation (as in the 1980s cereal commercial, 'Give it to Mikey. Mikey eats anything'.) and really fuss very little about what is put in front of me.

JFK's 'Bedside Bistro' menu allows each patient to order every meal a la carte, and meals are individually delivered about 45 minutes later. A very nice touch. The food is pretty standard fare in ample portions, though not highly seasoned -- as befits a diverse clientele.

I've tried just about everything for lunch and dinner and, as Mikey would say, 'Yum!'.

My interest was piqued though that the breakfast menu contained a 'raisin scone'.

Now my stepmother's mother, Granny McGowan, who emigrated from Ayrshire in southwestern Scotland in the 1920s, used to make scones from scratch for breakfast.

A scone (Granny always said 'skON' as opposed to 'skOWN'), is a Scottish quick bread using baking powder for its leavening. Granny McGowan cooked hers on a griddle as opposed to baking in the oven. Hers were the size of a large English muffin, crisp on the bottom and wonderfully light and fluffy within. You broke them open and slathered them with butter or marmalade and had a royal treat.

So that's what I was expecting.

When the tray arrived, there was a small, hard, well-browned thing about the size of a hockey puck sitting on a small plate.

'Is this it?' I asked.

The server said she could offer me an additional one if I thought it were too small.

I opted for the extra, but found the experience not at all up to my imagination of scones past. It was very dry, very hard, browned almost to burnt on the bottom and much sweeter than a scone should be.

Was it a scone?

Granny McGowan would probably have turned up her nose, but I ate the two gratefully, thinking it's a long time 'til lunch.

Tomorrow, I will go back to tried-and-true scrambled eggs and toast.

Maybe I'll try making some scones myself when I get home, though I remember my stepmother's frustration in trying to write down a recipe for them from Granny.

Granny said, 'Well, you take a wee bit o' flour and some baking powdirrr and...'

But I am a Food Network fan, and Alton Brown has what seems like a good recipe here.

The only real question is, skillet or oven?

NOTE: Sorry to be so late this morning, my morning therapy session time was shifted without warning. Hazards of therapy!

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Pat Turner Kavanaugh said...

Dan: that photo shows a plate with three scones? did you eat just two?

Michael Townley said...

If the ones he had looked like those, I don't think Dan would be complaining.

And Dan, I vote for the skillet method. My wife makes an Irish soda bread in a skillet and it's great!

Colleen Gibney said...

Dan--when you are back in your kitchen, I have lots of scone recipes, including healthier ones that are easier on the blood sugar than the full-butter traditionals. Also, if you check Ester's stand at Scotch Plains farmers' market, she does very nice fruit and whole grain scones. A lot of her baked goods are vegan also. Rest up!

Dottie Gutenkauf said...

The best hospital food I have ever had was at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in NYC in 2009. There's a menu in your room and when you want something to eat, you call the kitchen and tell them what you want--it's freshly made and delivered to you within a reasonable time.