If you listen to the news, talk to anyone on the street or walk the lonely halls of America’s shopping centers you’ll see and learn that times are tough. Everyone is looking to save money in these uncertain times and I am no different. The “timing” could not have been better as I make an effort to go out less, save money and focus my time and energy on my culinary learning.
One of the great things about food is its capacity to tell a story and transmit history. I’m not talking about fancy cuisine invented by chefs at exclusive restaurants, but the simple wonders that are passed down by generations of family whose sight and smells evoke memories of childhood and glimpses into another person’s life.
While trying to save money I’ve resolved to ditch the $1.50+ Starbucks muffin or scone or the $1.00 bagel from Dunkin’ Donuts. I have replaced them already with the muffins I have been diligently creating and have decided to add to my breakfast lineup with something simple and equally fulfilling. My southern muse Cassie suggested a recipe for southern-style biscuits that was reminiscent of the ones that her mother used to make her while growing up in rural West Virginia. I couldn’t think of a better way to connect with her past while also providing a tasty treat in the morning as I start my day at work.
I combined my dry ingredients in the food processor and then moved them to a large bowl. I worked in my shortening and frozen butter quickly, being careful not to melt the butter with my body heat. I added the buttermilk, gently working it into the doughy mixture and found myself the unfortunate
possessor of what Alton Brown calls “club hand”, a hand covered in sticky almost glue-like batter. Luckily I had a free hand and was able to wash my hands in the sink with a flick of the faucet handle. A spoon might be a better instrument for mixing, but this gave me valuable insight into what the dough should “feel” like. I moved it onto a floured surface and folded it over several times before flattening. Since I did not have 2″ cutters, I used a glass as my muse advised and cut out the biscuits. The left-over dough was re-combined and used to create the remaining biscuits. They were baked for 15 minutes and then cooled on racks for 5 minutes before eating. One word: perfect.
With one bite I could imagine the subtle saltiness which would combine with cured breakfast meats and eggs in the morning. Eating these along with waffles and pancakes and sweet syrup also came to mind as a delicious combination. I wondered what other Southern treats Cassie could share with me and how I would have to bribe her for her knowledge. So far so good with my learning. I can’t wait to find my next challenge.