- Preheat the oven. Nothing in life that matters, or that is worth it, happens without putting in a little time to get things going. By the same token, any new endeavor will need time to get rolling properly. Never judge anything too soon.
- Baking powder and baking soda sound alike, but they are not the same thing. The same is true for people. No two people are just alike. We make disastrous comparisons if we think someone we meet who reminds us of someone we know will be just like the other person. No matter how alike they sound and look, they are not the same thing.
- Use fresh ingredients when you are able. Every cook from time to time has to use frozen or canned ingredients. Nevertheless, fresh is always better. Whatever you are working at, avoid the trap of copying someone’s canned or frozen work. Use your own fresh ideas. It is always better.
- You probably need an emulsifier. An emulsifier is milk, eggs, butter–something to help things blend together. In groups of people, and systems of people, it should be someones job to make certain everything blends well. If no one is doing that, you might have to be the one.
- You may need something acidic. In cooking, my two favorites are vinegar and lemon juice. These ingredients are not something you taste in the food, but their acidic content brings out the flavors in the ingredients. People who conflict with us, or who challenge us, are acidic agents that can be useful in helping us define who we are and establish our priorities. They make us taste better to an unsavory world.
- Try some fat. Fat is a dirty word in health circles, nevertheless, fat is loaded with flavor. No life can be emotionally or spiritually healthy if there is not a little ‘fat’ in it.
- Do not cook in a hurry. If you do, chances are greater you’ll burn your food or miss an ingredient. Take your time and enjoy the process. It is a crime against our own humanity to rush through the stages of life, always anxious for the next big thing. Enjoy the moment, and give thanks for it.
Cook alone, eat with someone else. The purpose of cooking is eating, and eating is a spiritual endeavor. We were meant to live in community, not isolation.
Tonight for dinner I cooked up a great home cooked meal. It is one of our family favorites. We had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, cabbage, and buttermilk biscuits. I cheated a little in that the fried chicken was strips, not a whole chicken. It is just so much easier to fry up those yummy strips of breast meat, but usually I cut up a whole chicken because my wife my likes the wings and my daughters prefer legs. I compensated for this by making the gravy white cream gravy—Mrs. Greenbean’s fave instead of my preference of brown gravy. The cabbage was the veggie of choice, but it could have been anything . . . even green beans!
Several people have asked, in the past, for my buttermilk biscuit recipe so, I though this would be a good time to share it. There really are only three active ingredients, but I’ve found procedure and order makes a difference. About three years ago I went through a season when I worked out every possible variation on buttermilk biscuits until I found my preferred method. Yours may differ.
self-rising flour, buttermilk, vegetable shortening.
Spices: salt, pepper, garlic (just a little if you like), and sugar.
Fill a bowl with self-rising flour. How much? Ever how many biscuits you want to make. Put salt, pepper, (garlic), and sugar into the flour and mix well. Then cut into the flour the vegetable shortening. I scoop it out in half teaspoon measures, until I think it is enough. If you don’t get enough, don’t worry, you can add more. After putting in the shortening, use hands to work the shortening into the flour. The flour will eventually “bead” into a coarse powder. If it doesn’t do this, add more shortening until it does.
Once this is done, slowly add buttermilk. At first put in about three or four tablespoons. I never measure this, just eyeball it; but don’t put too much in. It is better to add more slowly as you work the mixture.
Work it with your hands. It should begin to “gum” up. I always work it very dry, slowly adding no more than a tablespoon at a time. Finally, when it becomes “sticky” I put just a tad bit more buttermilk to get it very sticky.
Put a little bit of dry self-rising flour onto the counter and dump the mixture on it. Do not work the biscuit mix too much. Flatten it out, and perhaps double it over a time or two, adding more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking. Flatten out the biscuit mix. How flat? How big do you want your biscuits?
I then use a cleaned out tuna can to cut my biscuits, but you can use anything. When you’ve cut them out, use the left over mix to make one giant biscuit. Mrs. Greenbean always gets that one! One you’re finished, turn the biscuits over, and let them sit on the countertop for at least one hour. I mean it, at least one hour. If you bake them immediately they will not rise as high or be as fluffy.
After one hour, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Then place the biscuits directly onto a pizza stone on the middle rack (my pizza stone never leaves the oven). Bake for between 12-15 minutes. Cook time depends upon the oven and, I’ve found, weather. They will be done when they are slight golden brown on top, but beware, the flour may still be mostly white on top.
Eat while hot. I always make enough to keep around for a day or two. Yum.