Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - February 17, 2023
Good friends, good times and good scones!
When husband Art and I travel to his hometown, we typically go through Madison - Wisconsin's state capital. We could drive the
"beltline" around the city, but he prefers the "scenic" route, past the impressive capitol building and the University of
Wisconsin, where he spent many years studying and working in the 1960s.
But the route also takes us through a residential neighborhood where a little bakery - 4&20 - once served local residents and nearby school students. The name is from the nursery rhyme, "Sing a Song of Sixpence," and references the line, "... four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie."
When we pass by, I text friend Linda, "Going by 4&20!"
The last time, her response was, "Wish you could stop for a special Mandy scone!"
Her daughter Mandy owned the restaurant and Linda appreciates that I remember. Mandy died in 2017 at the age of 36 after a short illness. Linda also lost her husband Martin within a few short months of Mandy's death. I'm not sure how she survived the grief.
But we agree it's important to talk about people we've lost to keep their memory alive. So on our January journey past 4&20, I texted Linda to ask if she had Mandy's recipe. When she said she did, I inquired if she would like to make Mandy's scones with me.
"That would be tons of fun," she replied.
I didn't know Mandy well. I remember her mostly as a youngster of 8 or 9. But Linda kept friends posted about her life as she grew into a young woman, became interested in baking and eventually had her own small business.
One day in early February, �Mandy�s Strawberry Orange Scones� came to life again. We invited friend Deb to join the fun.
Each of us had a job. Mine was to cut strawberries, "zest" the orange by using a special tool designed to take off bits of the rind, and wash bowls and other utensils after we used them. Linda's was to make sure we had the items we needed and to help Deb measure and mix the ingredients and shape the dough into a circle on the flour-dusted counter. Deb cut the circle into eight pie-shaped slices, put them on a baking sheet, and slipped them into the oven for 25 minutes.
After cooling, Linda drizzled a special glaze made from powdered sugar, water and orange zest over them. Voil�! The "Great British Baking Show" had nothing on the joint efforts of Mandy, Linda, Deb and me.
The main course at lunch was Linda's chicken-salad sandwiches and fruit salad. Then it was time for the mouth-watering scones and some hot peach-flavored tea. We were starting to feel like proper Brits!
We toasted each other in a touch of silliness. "Here's to good friends, good times and good scones!"
We spent the afternoon at the "80 for Brady" movie. It won't generate any Academy Awards, but the women are some of my favorite actors and the guys are easy on the eyes!
After, Linda kept some of the leftover scones and Deb and I each took one with us.
When I arrived home, I asked Art if he'd like a taste. He was dubious, having always found scones to be overly dry. But he later pronounced this one to be among the best he's ever tasted.
For a short time that day, a part of 4&20 had come to life again. We had felt Mandy's presence, and I'm sure she'd be happy knowing her mom and friends enjoyed a day together making one of her special recipes.
Just as we have in the past, Art and I will soon travel through that quiet corner of Madison again. The space once occupied by Mandy�s bakery is now a restaurant serving Mexican cuisine. But I'm pretty certain my thoughts will not be there, but with Mandy, Linda and Deb.
Here's to good friends, good times and good scones!
Top (l-r): Linda with Mandy in 1990; the king with his blackbird pie displayed in the 4&20 bakery; Linda tasting the batter; Deb mixing the ingredients. Bottom (l-r): the freshly-made scones accompanied by orange wedges; Linda and Deb anticipate tasting their handiwork; daughter Mariya's wife Miriam joined us for the afternoon at the movie; Mandy putting the final touches on a pie.