It’s been raining on and off over here, and the temperature has been moody like someone abstaining from coffee.
Not that I…know what that’s like…
And back home, I hear it’s snowing like crazy, such that some people are losing power and some businesses are closing temporarily. It reminds me of a time in middle school, when my hometown (Chapel Hill, NC) had an ice storm. I don’t remember what an ice storm is like. I just remember being let out of school early (for the FIRST and only time in my life) so we could get home before it got too dangerous to go outside. Our bus had some trouble making it back to my neighborhood, and we had to get out early and wait for another bus, or walk. Buses were scattered around the ditches all the way home (I could have made the walk in fifteen minutes, if I wanted to die of frostbite.) We lost power the next day and had to rely on camping stoves, cup noodles that tasted like hamburgers because we cooked them on the camping stoves, extra layers of blankets, a real wood fire, and the entirety of our winter wardrobes to help us sleep at night. My dad’s office regained power after a few days, so we migrated to downtown, picked up some pizza, and camped out in the conference room of his law firm until our house regained power.
Good thing my family loves candles. We had a lot of candles and if not for those, we would have been screwed.
Yesterday, my Canadian friend showed me photos of the worst winters in Canada, and then a photo online taken in North Carolina…there was hardly any snow. I don’t know what it’s like back home right now, but even though it may never be as difficult as a Canadian winter, I still hope people are faring well.
All this is to say, I’m homesick. I never felt much Southern until I went to college in Los Angeles and people actually laughed when I would say “y’all” (and then not only say it themselves without any hint of irony, but also completely misspell the word.) And I realized recently that I’ve never been in touch with my upbringing, which isn’t very Southern by even central North Carolina standards. But I’d like to. So a few months ago I attempted deep-fried okra…and it was not pleasant. I asked my parents to mail me some Southern food and I’ve had a box of corn bread mix in my pantry for over half a year (I ate the jambalaya a month ago.) I found cornmeal in my local import store and it takes all my willpower not to buy it (soon. soon, my precious.)
But on a lighter note, I’ve spent the weekend making (American) biscuits. Definitely the easiest thing I’ve made in the last twelve months, and after only two attempts, they already taste like home: salty, buttery, warm, flour-y, and full of clogged arteries…I mean…delicious calories. For lunch on Saturday, I used a biscuit cutter to make an egg patty and had a bacon-egg biscuit. I cried a little…then I choked on a biscuit crumb that found its way into my windpipe.
So while I comfort myself through the rain with a taste of home, I feel like I’m experiencing the late winter madness that my family is going through (but actually I’m just really happy that it’s not so cold where I am right now.) And when I’m feeling really cooky, I make garlic black pepper biscuits, too.
Southern buttery biscuits
makes one dozen
320 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt*
1 Tbsp baking powder
120 g butter
195 g milk
dash of lemon juice
*For garlic biscuits substitute the salt for 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp black pepper, and add 1 tsp garlic paste or diced fresh garlic
These can be baked as soon as they’re ready, or frozen and baked later.
Chop the butter into small cubes, about 1 centimeter square, and let chill in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder (and garlic powder and black pepper if using) in a large bowl.
Using a pastry mixer, food processor, or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter’s coated and resembles small beans.
Add the milk (and garlic/garlic paste if using) and mix loosely just until dough starts to come off the sides of the bowl.
Lightly flour the counter and dump out the dough. Knead it loosely until it comes together and stops sticking to your hands. Flour as needed. Don’t be afraid of the flour.
Press the dough out to ~1 inch or ~1 centimeter thickness and cut out with biscuit cutters. If freezing, line a tupperware container with parchment paper and put a layer of paper in between each layer of biscuits. If baking now, put the biscuits on the baking sheet so they’re touching, no space in between.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until golden brown on top. If using a toaster oven, toast at 1000 W for 15 – 20 minutes.
Let cool on a wire rack over a sheet of parchment paper. Best eaten the same day.
I can already count the number of breakfast biscuits and fried chicken biscuits I’m going to consume in August when I move home. Bojangles, brace yourself.