Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Thought It Felt Funny (like odd funny) ...

EVERY good story starts somewhere. Mine started with a colleague requesting my favorite biscuit recipe. He had decided to conquer biscuit making but the recipe he had turned out a doughy product.
His mother had said she would leave him with a good recipe, but after she passed away he found out he didn't have it. I thought I could help him because I had a good "receipt" for biscuits with the secret ingredient of cream of tartar. I traditionally made these for my family whenever I made stew. This was my apology for stretching the meat with a lot of vegetables they usually didn't care for. Biscuits and honey-butter can make up for a lot of sins.
So I got to looking for my favorite recipe. Nowhere to be found! Wouldn't you know? Julia Child was my backup. I got out her book on breads and found a great, simple recipe - filled with a lot of "don't worry if it's goopy" and "don't knead more than 10 times even if it's very tempting to do so" ... stuff like she'd say.
So I mixed up the flour, baking powder and salt and then worked in the shortening with my fingers. It felt so good! It had been a while since I'd worked with shortening and flour. I love the special magic these simple ingredients can concoct.
I poured in the cup of milk, mixed it just a little, dumped it onto the floured towel (with my hand, the way Julia said to) and kneaded it exactly 10 times - well, 11. I couldn't resist! It patted it out into a perfect circle. What a great mixture, I thought to myself. It was so satiny!
I cut 2-inch circles and laid them in the greased pan and slipped them into the warm oven. Yum! These would be great with butter and marmalade.
Fifteen minutes later the timer went off and I opened the oven. Tiny little flat circles; flat! What had happened? I blamed the oven immediately. I had made my share of biscuits over the years. I had never had them fail this badly before.
By the way, have any of you smarty pants noticed what I should have noticed before I mixed up the second batch according to Martha Stewart's recipe? (Yes, I'm fickle when faced with failure. I abandoned Julia after it was clearly my fault - if only my eyes had been a little more discerning.)
I laughed and laughed at myself. How could I be so blind? What a stupe! What a knothead! Good grief, I thought. It hasn't been that long since I baked something ... has it? Well, apparently so. I can no longer tell the difference between cornstarch and baking powder - although I thought it felt funny when I leveled off the tablespoon with my finger.
Here's the difference in the size of the batches. The second set tasted great but still weren't as high as my usual recipe. I blame Martha for that. She uses too much shortening in her recipe. I'll try Julia again and apologize.
I put apple crisp in the oven before I started typing this, and I think it's about time to go check that and see who I can blame if it hasn't turned out. A cup of tea sounds like "a good thing" right about now, too.
I hope your cooking disasters don't waste as much flour, shortening and time as mine did. Cheers - femminismo
p.s. When we can't laugh at ourselves we're really in trouble!


Mrs. G. said...

Have mercy!

Candace said...

BWAhaha! Sorry, sorry. I was reminded of a particular winter's evening when I made a cornbread that only rose 1 inch. It was very crisp, very delicious and I've not been able to duplicate it, try as I might. Then again...
Julia was a spy, so who knows what is lurking in our kitchens, under our very noses.


Jenny Matteson said...

   I just made two loaves of zucchini bread. they are both cooling in the kitchen and filling the house with that wonderful lemony, nutmeggy aroma.
   Can't you just smell it?