Sour Biscuits

I was in the worst mood yesterday. It was so bad that at one point I went looking for a song on You Tube to serve as the soundtrack of my day, and I finally settled on Eminem’s last three rap battles from the movie Eight Mile. Eminem – the voice of  pudgy white women living in the suburbs!

I’m not sure why I was so ill. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I’d been in my hometown on Saturday and it reminded me that I am not young. I know people say that the best years are ahead, but all I could see ahead of me yesterday was arthritis, a teenager about to start driving and dating, and moustache waxing. Blech.

I finally snapped out of it when Moon and her BFF sat down with me for Monday night bridge camp. JD was our 4th and in what I’m sure is a totally unrelated coincidence, his mood declined. Oh well, at least one of us was happy.

Today I was a little better despite the fact that I tried to make biscuits AGAIN. For those of you keeping count, that makes 3 times. I took pictures but everything went exactly the same as the last two times except now the dogs just get up in the morning and run straight to the stove. I did find out that it’s not the lard and/or the buttermilk making my biscuits sour – this time I used butter and whole milk and got the same result. At least I’m consistent.

My bridge partner, Positive Patty, says after Christmas she’ll give me a live tutorial. Who thinks she’ll need a new nickname once we’re finished?

But the day wasn’t a total loss. JD managed to find a dead rat that had been under the floor for the past week so, awesome!

My life soundtrack is going to include a lot of Blues.

Moron Test Kitchen – Biscuits 2.0

After my last attempt at making Cuma’s biscuits went so horribly wrong, you might think I’d give up. But NO, I will not be deterred. Also, I have a lot of leftover lard to get rid of.

I took to heart all of the comments you left, and while visiting with my mother this weekend, she showed me the process that Cuma used so I thought I’d give it another try.

1. Put a bunch of flour in a bowl.

I love that Cuma didn’t measure the flour. Anything that saves me a step is good. Everyone seemed to agree that there was no need to use all-purpose flour, so this is the good old-fashioned self-rising kind.

2. Put an egg-sized lump of lard in the middle of the flour.

At Supper Club, my friend Forrest said he uses butter, but I wanted to try lard one last time since Cuma used it. Forrest also said that “dough knows its maker” which sounded kinda ominous. In an attempt to get on the right foot with my dough, I started talking to it. If it works for plants, maybe it would work for dough!

3. Cut the lard into the dough. Jean and DE said that I should use my hands, so that’s what I did. It actually seemed to work better than the fork and whisk. I don’t have any pictures because my hands were covered with flour and lard, but you’ll have to trust me.

Next I made a hole in the flour and poured in some buttermilk. I worked it with my hands, adding flour, adding milk, until I got a nice feeling lump of dough.

This is the point where I ran out of things to talk to the dough about and so I decided to pray while I kneaded. But my dog was whining and whining and whining, hoping that I’d drop something on the floor and my prayers were more of the “Good LORD, please give me PATIENCE. OMG!” variety. I took a deep breath and decided to think nice thoughts, like how maybe Cuma could see me in heaven and how happy she’d be knowing she was being thought about.

I got so distracted trying to be a nice person for my dough that I rolled it too thin, and when I cut out the biscuits they were like paper and they were RIPPING because I forgot to flour the wax paper and the whining was still happening and I finally lost it and yelled SHUT UP to my 112 year-old dog and I might have, just maybe, cussed Cuma and her flipping biscuits!

This is the only photo I have of the biscuits. After cooking them, they were eaten so fast I didn’t have time to get a shot. Have you SEEN how fast dogs can eat a biscuit? Crazy.

This dough not only knew me, it became me. These were some hard and sour biscuits! Next time, I’m going to forget about the lard and buttermilk. It’s going to be butter and whole milk for the next lot, AND no talking. I’m going to lock the dog outside and put on some easy-listening music, and the next batch of biscuits is going to be like me – the better me.

Fat and soft and flaky – sounds yummy to me!

(Cuma would sift the flour to get the odd pieces of lard out and dump it back into her larder, but I’m guessing she didn’t have a WalMart across the street like I do. I just threw it away.)

Extreme Weekends

I had all kinds of fun this weekend in what seems like polar-opposite events, but probably aren’t that different. It started Friday night with Supper Club. This week we met at our friends house in Kennesaw for a great dinner and no electricity. We have a theme each month and I’m not sure what this one was, but I look way better by candlelight so, win!

The people in Supper Club are all friends I’ve met through church over the years. Well, everyone but JD, but that’s another story. I was looking around the table at them all and it struck me how unique and awesome and fun they are in so many different ways. So we ate, and drank wine, and laughed and then we ended the evening by praying together. It. Was. Great.

On Saturday, I got packed and drove to Zollicoffer. An old friend has a new blues CD coming out next year, so he and his band were playing a preview show for a select few. My cousin came in from Nashville and she and I went to the show together. It was held in a friend’s place of  business just off the square. I knew almost everyone there from high school. Of the few there I didn’t know, it would take about 20 seconds before we found common ground – “Oh, I went to school with your sister,” and “I worked for your dad last year.” We ate pretzels and drank draft beer and laughed and we ended the evening when my friend fired his drummer on stage in the middle of a song. It. Was. Great.

If all I knew of the world was based on my own personal experiences, and the people that are in my life, I’d say life is beautiful.

The drummer might have a different take on things.

Deck The Halls with zzzzzzzz

I am a bit lacking in Christmas spirit. It could be that trip I took last night to Barrett Parkway where mall shoppers were out in full force, or maybe it’s because I have a sprained bicep from carrying a load of Christmas cards into the post office. Whatever, ’tis the season!

Could someone please post something on Facebook encouraging me to slow down and remember what Christmas is all about? That’s what I need in the midst of the running around, a side helping of guilt.

The problem is not the spending, or the running around, or the trying to figure out what everyone wants/needs. The problem is that I have to do all of that AND my regular life of work/cleaning/parenting. Instead of trying to give everyone healthcare, how ’bout we all get the entire month of December as paid leave?

I was talking to a lovely, Christian friend today and we were contemplating the first Christmas. Do you think, in retrospect, that it would have been better if Mary, upon getting all of the frankincense and myrrh, had said, “No gifts, please. Let’s all just stop the running around like camels chasing their tails and focus on this birth.”

By the way, did you know that YOU can give frankincense and myrrh? It’s the Magi Set. It was probably all the rage 2000 years ago.

The good news is that I just have to buy a couple of things for Moon, some stuff for her friends, get some gift cards for one or two people, figure out a Christmas card for MY family, go to 3 parties, buy a few gifts for assorted friends and family, finish decorating the tree, deliver some gifts to the church, mail some gifts to south Georgia, and wrap everything, then I AM DONE!

Then I promise to stop and rest and remember the reason for the season. It’ll be February by the time I finish, so it should be a lot easier.

Moron Test Kitchen – Old Fashioned Biscuits

Last week I wrote a post about visiting with my great-grandparents, and my mother said something in the comments that I couldn’t shake –

Her biscuits were as good as cookies.

Now THAT is a biscuit I’d like to try. I called my mom, but of course no recipe exists. The only thing I could get out of her was that Cuma used lard and that she had a big bowl of flour. I’m not even sure those two things were related, but whatever. I googled and found a recipe for southern biscuits that included lard, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

What I needed: Lard, Flour, Baking Powder, Milk (I went for buttermilk because it seems like something a country person would do) and salt. Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup lard or shortening
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • I gathered all of the ingredients, pulled out a bowl, and grabbed my computer so I could read what to do first. Immediately, things went awry.
  • Preheat oven 450 degrees.  Make sure the rack is in the center.
  • In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Cut in lard til it all resembles small peas.
  • Pepper?? Where does the list of ingredients mention pepper? I consulted JD who said just to leave it out, then I called my mom and she seconded the opinion, but it unnerved me. How could I trust anything this person had to say?

    It flustered me so much I forgot everything and just dumped all of the ingredients into the bowl.

    Yes, I stopped to take a picture of the milk, but not to actually READ the recipe, because if I had, I’d have known that the milk goes in much later. Oh well.
    Using the same, no-reading strategy as above, I also dumped the lard into the bowl. Thankfully I realized that looked a little odd, so I pulled it back out and began to s-l-o-w-l-y cut it into the mix.
    Then I began to use a whisk and a fork to work all the ingredients together. I realized something in the midst of this – good cooking takes patience. Even though I had no where to be, and no one was waiting on breakfast, I kept trying to rush through this part. I can see where this would be a good activity for a mother/daughter to do together. A pair could really bond over the mixing bowls.  Moon and I would probably go insane, but some other mother/daughter pair ought to try it.
    Anyway, my mixture looked dry so I called my mom and she said to add a little more milk, and then it looked wet and she said to add a little more flour. Then it looked dry again. That went on for approximately 108 minutes, until finally, I got something that resembled dough.
    Now it was time to knead. My mother was on my phone’s speaker by this point and she said I had to get air into the dough. I pointed out that I could handle this part, thank you very much, because I had taken several pottery classes and was familiar with kneading clay. And she pointed out that you knead clay to get the air OUT and I realized that I know nothing.
    So after kneading the dough 4 times, per the recipe, I used a roller to make it thin.
    Then I used a glass out of the pantry to cut the biscuits out of the dough. This is the one thing I remember my mom doing. I think I got the size of the glass just right!

    Next I put them on an ungreased sheet, on the middle rack, and cooked them for 12 minutes. And, VIOLA!

    Spoiler alert: They weren’t better than cookies.

    They were thin and dense, and no amount of butter or jelly could save them.

    Moon tried a bite and immediately drank an entire glass of chocolate milk to get the taste out of her mouth.

    JD might have chipped a tooth.

    Moron Test Kitchen grade – D. Yes, I read the recipe wrong, but it was still too hard for the average moron. I’m going to try again using self-rising flour, which according to my mother, is a suitable substitute for all-purpose/baking powder. If I do that, and put the ingredients in the right order, I’ll get a much better biscuit.

    Still, it makes you wonder. Just how bad were Cuma’s cookies?

    Thanksgiving Recap

    If I want to get depressed, I pull out the 17 years worth of these family/Thanksgiving photos and see how much I’ve grown. In girth, not as a person, obviously. I don’t know why I always get stuck in the front. I guess it’s the price I pay for being short.

    We left for the Island on Wednesday morning and made the trip without incident. Not that I was worried – Bratt and Kit decided to follow us down as well, and I figured that if anything went wrong they’d pick us up off the side of the road. Luckily, we didn’t have to test the theory.

    Wednesday night, we decided to hang out at home, which is when Stanley mentioned that Gone with the Wind was coming on television. Since he’d seen it when it first came out in 1939, and Moon had never seen it, we all settled down to watch it. All FIVE HOURS of it. Well, everyone else went to bed around 10, but what’s a mom to do? I couldn’t leave Moon to wonder what happened to Scarlett and Rhett forever, so we stayed up till 1 a.m. watching the drama unfold. The bad news is we were both exhausted on Thanksgiving. The good news is that Moon now has full understanding of all things Yankee.

    Thanksgiving was spent in Savannah, and you’ll be proud to know that even though I tried the traditional Chatham Artillery Punch, I did not wake up in the middle of the night and throw up. Success! I’m not sure what the secret was since I ate and drank enough for four people.

    I wasn’t the only one. I’m not saying WHO, but one of these people ate 3 pieces of cake.

    On Friday, we walked the dogs on the beach, then I played bridge.  I don’t want to brag, but I came in 8th. Of 8. While I was doing my best to embarrass myself, JD, Moon, Brat and Kit were given a tour of Sea Island, including an inside look at one of the beautiful homes that reside there. Which explains why Moon is a little put out that WE don’t have an elevator.

    Friday night, M continued to earn Super Mother-in-Law status by playing 72 games of dominoes with Moon, while we went to see Catching Fire with Bratt/Kit. It was so good I came home and re-read Mockingjay. I’ve now seen two of the movies and read all three books, including one twice and I STILL have fewer hours in them than Gone with the Wind.

    Saturday morning we got up at the crack of dawn and raced home before the traffic could clog all of the major roads. I collapsed on the bed and didn’t get up until noon on Sunday.

    So essentially, my typical Thanksgiving weekend. With slightly less puke.