Walking out of the airport terminal, looking around at the flurry of people getting into cabs and the constant whistle from the man directing empty cars over, I watched my two friends get into their cab and head off to their hotel. My husband had (romantically) picked a different hotel for us to stay at, but after realizing I would be alone that first night, it kicked up the butterflies and my adventurous spirit started to waiver.
As the driver loaded my suitcase into the trunk we struggled over the language barrier, I was in Singapore after all, as I repeated the name of the hotel. His face was still blank as he pointed for me to get in the cab. A cab driver not knowing your hotel kind of makes you worry about where you're actually staying! As he pulled away, I began to panic. How do you say "Stop!" in mandarin? Hm.
I began yelling for him to stop...the edge of fear in my voice translated just fine and he pulled the car over...the other taxis raced by our car, and I questioned whether this was really the safest decision after all...he handed me a phone book and I pointed out the hotel. There was lots of nodding and ahhh-ing. Why we didn't think of this before we left I'll never know. Note to self: learn the word for phonebook in all foreign languages.
I relaxed a little after seeing a Ferrari parked in front of the hotel...can't be that bad right? After over-tipping just about everyone, I was relieved just to be in my room. It was the smallest room I've ever been in...just enough room for a bed, the bathroom, and our "balcony" that we paid extra for... over- looked an alley and was barely wide enough for me to stand on. Nice. I won't go into the questionable carpet stains.
I tried calling my friends at their hotel, (there's my resourceful spirit!) but the phone just kept ringing. I pictured them out on the town while I sat, slightly overwhelmed, in my room alone. I found my mom on google chat, scrolled through the 5 TV channels finding American Idol, and eventually fell asleep.
My husband was supposed to meet me the next afternoon, so I got up and explored a few streets by myself...bouncing between feeling like an expert world traveler and cautiously looking over my shoulder realizing I'm a woman in a foreign country by herself. I decided to bring my book down and read in the lobby of the hotel while I waited.
He didn't see me as he walked in and I watched him go to the front desk, he asked for his wife's reservation - that word still gives me goosebumps, I'm his wife! I guess my smile gave me away, one of the clerks caught on and I got to do a movie-worthy walk up to him and surprise him moment. We promptly checked out of that hotel and into a more "American" one. I'm fine with new things and exploring but I have to have a comfortable home base...and that room wasn't doing it for me.
This has nothing to do with pumpkin scones with chai icing, but it's one of my favorite memories. It's the perfect combination of conquering fear, pushing boundaries, accepting yourself, knowing your limits, and making the best of it. It's how I want to always live my life and how I try to every day. My big confession is I usually live from a place of fear...my anxieties can get the best of me. I try to remind myself to take risks, to get out there and do whatever "it" is. Sometimes that means going to another country by myself and sometimes it means going to a new class at the gym.
Pumpkin Scones with Chai Icing
Makes 8 large scones
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove1/4 teaspoon ginger ( i was out )
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 15 oz can pure pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons half-and-half or milk
For the Chai Icing:
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 chai tea bag (not the concentrate!)
1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger. Mix together on very low speed just until incorporated.
3. Add the chopped, cold, butter and mix on low until the butter mixes in and the clumps are about the size of a large pea. You may need to use a fork at first and then the mixer paddle.
4. In a small bowl mix together the pumpkin, milk or half & half, and egg. Stir together. Slowly add the mixture to the flour mixture at a low speed. Stir until just mixed together.
5. Lightly dust your counter with flour so that the dough won't stick. With a rubber spatula stir the dough in the bowl to be sure all the flour is mixed in from the bottom, and shape the dough into a ball (or clump in my case). Pour the dough onto the floured counter and gently press into circle, about an inch thick. You may need extra flour on the top, or re-flour the counter during this.
6. Once your dough is in a flat circle, 1 inch thick, take a knife (I put a little flour on the blade) and cut a + in the circle so that you have divided it into 4 large pieces. Then cut an X on that, so that it's divided into 8 pieces.
7. Gently lift each piece out and place it on the parchment paper baking sheet, leave room between each piece. Bake 15-17 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
8. Once the scones are cool, heat the 3 tablespoons of milk (in a heat proof bowl or cup) in the microwave for 30 seconds or until hot. Place the chai tea bag in the milk and let steep for about 5 minutes.
9. In a small bowl add the confectioners sugar and chai flavored milk and stir together until the sugar has dissolved completely. *Here's my new trick, let the icing stand for 3-5 minutes until it starts to get thick. Now ice your scones in whatever design you'd like, drizzle, dunk, whatever. Store in your fridge or enjoy right away!