Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I was taught how to cook by my husband after we were married. He showed me and then I was supposed to do all the cooking. I found this unfair. Why was this my job? He, after all, was fully able to cook. Anyway women are more likely to mop the floor and cook than men and I'm not sure I really want things to change and every man wearing an apron but I feel faintly abused. Anyway, my mom was Southern but couldn't make biscuits. Biscuits are a necessary part of meals, especially breakfast in the South and my mother's lack was due to 8 sisters. This made it difficult for her to even get into her mom's tiny kitchen and even watch her mom and sisters cook anything. I found biscuits to be made by my husband in an unconventional way. I failed many times at making biscuits, I made odd rocks and strange textures and flat little pancakes before using this method. I thought to share it with you.
Take self-rising flour and throw away your baking powder or save it for that banana nut bread. Add whole milk and stir until it is between thin and thick, anything between. Add one big blob of Crisco shortening, about 4 tablespoons. (Hmm....flour is about 2 cups I think) As you can see, I hate to measure anything. I don't know why, it seems so complicated and too much trouble. Melt shortening in a cast iron skillet, (why cast iron? It's traditional I guess) Pour lard into flour and milk mixture.
My biscuits were very bitter before, baking powder lends a bitterness for me otherwise. I know this is not how you are supposed to make biscuits.
However, if I do it the proper way, by slicing pieces of shortening with 2 knives into the flour until crumbly textured, I can make pie crust very prettily, (even if it is 2 inches thick) Cobbler however is easier and everything taste better soaked in berry juice or peach juice. Very forgiving.
Well, that is my cooking tip for today.
Oh yeah, forgot to mention. Sometimes, by complete accident because I never make biscuits that taste the same twice, I get this light and fluffy and delicious pastry that is ridiculously wonderful. I remember how my Aunt Lena Mae made wonderful creations out of flour, buttermilk and vegetable shortening. Her biscuits were so amazing she made them on huge cookie sheets and still had no leftovers. A well-made biscuit is better than baklava, better than chocolate eclairs, better with a homey goodness that tastes like childhood.
I think it is when I get the milk exactly right and when I stir very little. It's like a suprise to open up my oven.
I never know what I'm going to get.

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