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The spring is bringing us many dreary days lately.  Days when the sun fails to make an appearance, and I am left with little to do besides hang out in my kitchen, baking and observing the magpies out the window.  Magpies are said to be very intelligent birds because they are capable of self-recognition in a mirror, but just by watching their normal behavior, I would have never guessed.  A couple of months ago, I noticed a couple of magpies collecting sticks and flying over to the big Blue Spruce tree in our yard, love birds!  Minda and I found the prospect of having a nest of baby birds in our backyard very exciting.

Since the building of the nest, I have seen the same couple of birds constantly hanging around, looking over their nest.  A couple of days ago I was in the kitchen and I heard squawking out my window, LOTS of loud squawking.  When I looked out the window there were ten magpies in the branches of the tree where the nest is.  I could not figure out what in the world could possibly be happening, but within a few seconds it was apparent.  A large crow flew out of the tree, he must have been stealing the eggs!  I felt sadness for the magpies.  I feel a connection with them, almost like they are my pets.  More than anything though, I was in awe of the way a whole flock of magpies came to defend the nest.  The intelligence of the magpie was then apparent to me.  They do not usually hang out in flocks, sticking only to their mates, but in the face of adversity, the whole magpie community pulled together.  It is very much like our own human behavior.

Our family spends most of our time like the magpies, with just our family unit.  Matt and myself, hanging around our nest and defending our brood.  The family time we have though is much more limited than the magpies.  With work and other responsibilities, we have only the weekends to really come together and reconnect.  I love to start the weekends off by baking a special breakfast for our family.  One of our favorites is these cinnamon scones.  If a buttermilk biscuit and a cinnamon roll were to have a love child, it would be this scone. They are especially delicious with a hot cup of chai tea.

Trying the raw flour is an optional step

Cinnamon Scones

Makes 8 scones

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup muscavado or other unprocessed sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for dusting

1 tablespoon cinnamon, plus ¼ teaspoon for dusting

4 tablespoons cold butter

1 cup buttermilk, plus 1 tablespoon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ¼ cup of sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with two knives. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon.

In a small measuring cup whisk together the 1 cup of buttermilk and vanilla extract and then add to the flour mixture. Stir just until the dough comes together (add more buttermilk or flour as necessary). Do not over mix the dough.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg and remaining tablespoon buttermilk and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and set aside.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about ¾ an inch thick. Cut the circle in half, cut each half into 4 triangles. Place the scones on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg mixture (there will be some leftover), and sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar.

Bake for about 14 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Serve fresh out of the oven (this is the best), or transfer to a cooling rack.

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