a little smackerel from jeannine atkins

“By-and-by Pooh and Piglet went on again. Christopher Robin was at home by this time, because it was the afternoon, and he was so glad to see them that they stayed there until very nearly tea-time, and then they had a Very Nearly tea, which is one you forget about afterwards, and hurried on to Pooh Corner, so as to see Eeyore before it was too late to have a Proper Tea with Owl.”  ~ from THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER, by A.A. Milne (E.P. Dutton & Co., 1928). 

The other morning I was feeling a little odd. 

It was almost eleven and I needed a little smackerel of something.

Just in time, I received this lovely email from author Jeannine Atkins:

Jama, this is my favorite scone recipe, which I doubled and brought into my children’s literature class after reading WINNIE-THE-POOH and feeling like we needed ‘a little something.’ One student said he was happy to ‘walk into class and see two big cookie-like things on the table.’



No tea party would be complete without them. Whether you pronounce it skon to rhyme with John (as in most of the UK), or skoan to rhyme with Joan (as in the U.S.), there’s no denying their appeal. Split them in half while they’re still warm, lay on the butter, strawberry jam, and clotted cream (if you’re lucky), and you’ve got home and heaven in one little cake!

Scones, originally from Scotland, are perfect anytime — breakfast, elevenses, very nearly tea, or proper afternoon tea. Make them plain with cream, milk or buttermilk, add fruit or even chocolate chips — then roll and cut them into little rounds, or pat the dough onto a sheet, and cut in wedges. They can be baked or dropped on a griddle. Your tum-iddle-um will thank you.

When Jeannine’s students walked into the classroom, they probably felt like this:

When you’ve been walking in the wind for miles, and you suddenly go into somebody’s house, and he says, ‘Hello, Pooh, you’re just in time for a little smackerel of something,’ and you are, then it’s what I call a Friendly Day.

Very friendly Jeannine has written quite a few fabulous books herself, the latest of which is Anne Hutchinson’s Way (FSG, 2007). In this historical fiction picture book (illustrated by Michael Dooling), Anne leaves England with her husband and ten children for the Massachusetts Colony, seeking religious freedom.

When she disagrees with the minister’s ways, Anne holds meetings in her own home to preach the gospel herself. Told from her daughter Susanna’s point of view, this inspiring story of a strong woman who believed in the freedom of speech, was recently named a 2008 Amelia Bloomer Project Recommended Title, one of 32 books which encourages girls to be “smart, brave, and proud.”

Jeannine has written several other wonderful books about strong girls and women, such as Aani and the Tree Huggers (Lee and Low, 2000), Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Stories of Six Pioneering Naturalists (Dawn, 2000), and How High Can We Climb: The Story of Women Explorers (FSG, 2005). All reflect Jeannine’s love of history, research, and personal interest in feminism.

So, next time you crave a little something, mix up a batch of Jeannine’s scones, pour yourself a cup of your favorite tea (maybe Republic of Tea’s  All Day Breakfast or Assam Breakfast ), and curl up with one of her books. It’ll get you humming, and may even inspire you to greater things. What could be friendlier?

from Jeannine Atkins

1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cut in bits
1-1/4 cups mixed dried fruit: chopped apricots, dried cranberries or cherries, and raisins
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease baking sheet. Combine dry ingredients, then cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles cornmeal. Mix in fruit. Combine cream and egg, then pour into the flour mixture. Stir with a fork just until the dough forms a ball. Pat this into a round and squash about 8 inches wide. Cut about halfway through into twelve wedges and put it on the baking sheet. Bake about twenty minutes until golden.

Visit Jeannine’s Website and Blog for more about her books!



15 thoughts on “a little smackerel from jeannine atkins

  1. You’re so right, anytime is good for tea time. I do so enjoy a British tea time of tea and scones. I’m afraid the only scones I’ve ever made are from a mix (*hangs head*). Thank you Jama and Jeannine for expanding my horizons. I will definitely try your recipe.


  2. Your sweet post made my day! Thanks, Jama! I guess if you can’t be happy disussing Winnie-the-Pooh with college seniors you should hang it up. I’m inspired to read and bake!


  3. Thanks again for the recipe! I’ve been enjoying Girls Who Looked Under Rocks. I was only familiar with Rachel Carson and Jane Goodall, so it’s a real treat!


  4. please please please forgive me
    Really, I hadn’t known I was blogging about forgiveness because I was going to need it. Jama, you are my hero, writing about Milne, Henry James, Bob Dylan, and providing recipes,too. Then… bam… you get hit by bad-editing writers. I really thought I proofread my scone recipe — well, I did, and wearing my tri-focals, too — but something slipped. I’m so sorry that 48 hours has elapsed till I looked at it again and see that it should be 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and not 1/4 cup. It should be 1/2 cup heavy cream and not 1/4 cup. I really really don’t know what I was thinking, besides swooning about the outcome. I hope no one has been so intrepid as to try this in the meantime. I deserve all the cursing that might then ensue. But I hope you will edit it for the record with my deepest apologies. And send all libel suits my way. Well, I hope no lawyers get involved. Um, remind them that forgiveness is divine? I do apologize! Again and again… sorry, sorry, sorry


  5. Re: please please please forgive me
    Please don’t be so hard on yourself! No problem to change the recipe. You generously shared it with the best of intentions, for which I am very grateful. However, since you’ve been a tad naughty, you must drink some chamomile tea, like Peter Rabbit, and take a nap 🙂 . . .


  6. Re: please please please forgive me
    Thank you, Jama, for understanding and for doling out a wee punishment. Chamomile has never been my tea of choice but I’ll happily sip with Peter R. I wish I could send scones!


  7. Linda, Northing wrong with a mix. In fact, less room for human error. I really do hope you make the scones, but hope you haven’t started yet. I belately recognized an error which Jama has graciously fixed. If you try the scones, please, try the newly posted recipe. I’m sorry!


  8. Linda, Northing wrong with a mix. In fact, less room for human error. I really do hope you make the scones, but hope you haven’t started yet. I belately recognized an error which Jama has graciously fixed. If you try the scones, please, try the newly posted recipe. I’m sorry!


  9. No problem at all. I haven’t made them yet (but I’m aiming for this weekend). I’ve made the quick changes on my print out.
    Now I’m looking at the photo again.Ummmm, scones. I shall report back with any successes. I can assure you any hard, rocky untasty lumps will be my own fault.


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