Five for Friday: Winter and Biscuits

Winter has definitely come to Maine.  Cold air from the Arctic has swept down on the state, leaving frost on the windows, crunchy snow underfoot, and a nip on the cheeks. Though it is cold, it is beautiful, and here are a couple of winter shots to illustrate this.

This is literally right out my bedroom window. All I had to do was open it to get a good picture.

A couple of years ago, a pileated  woodpecker visited this tree in our yard,  pecked with a vengeance, and left these holes behind.  To me, they look like little doorways that need to be shoveled.

Now on to biscuits. Somehow, cold weather encourages baking, and last night’s supper was a classic—biscuits with gravy. The previous night, in a crock-pot,  I had cooked a chicken with potatoes and carrots. With the resulting stock, I made a gravy—two cups stock, 4 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons flour—and then added the leftover chicken and vegetables. The stock was so tasty from the spicing—garlic, salt, pepper, sage, thyme—I used for the chicken that no additional flavoring was necessary.

Then came the biscuits, an old-timey recipe from mother who got it from an elderly friend. No one could make biscuits like my mother, but last night’s biscuits came pretty close to being as soft and tender as hers were.

Here they are, hot out of the oven.

A closer look.

Biscuits with the chicken gravy.

I posted the biscuit recipe many years ago, but this blog has lots of new readers, so I’m going to post it again. However, I do have a few tips and comments.

First, because this is an old-timey recipe, the measurements are not precise. Regular spoons from everyday cutlery are used for measuring, and one cup strong means just a dite over a cup. (Shannon, I know how you love such instructions.) Biscuits, unlike pie dough, improve with a bit of additional liquid, hence the one cup strong measurement for the milk. The dough will be very mushy. Let it set for a minute or two, and it will be stiff enough to handle.

Second, handle the dough as little as possible. Put it on a floured counter, sprinkle flour on top of the dough, pat it, flip it, and that’s enough. Remember, these are biscuits,  not bread.

Finally, I use Crisco in my biscuits. I realize that Crisco has fallen from favor, but it provides a taste and texture I like.  (I also use Crisco for pie crusts and gingersnaps.) If Crisco really isn’t your thing, try cutting in cold butter instead. I bet the biscuits will still be tasty.  And if you do use butter instead of Crisco, let me know how the biscuits turn out.

Rochelle’s Old-Timey Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of Crisco
  • 1 cup of milk, strong

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Cut in the Crisco until it is well mixed with the flour, and it all looks crumbly.
  4. Stir in the milk. Do not overmix. The dough will be very soft, runny even. Let it rest for a minute or two, and then turn the dough onto a floured counter or board.
  5. Pat the dough with flour and flip it, shaping it to desired thickness.
  6. Using either a glass or a biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits and place them in an ungreased 8 x 8 pan. Dab the tops with small pieces of cold butter.
  7. Bake for ten or fifteen minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
  8. Serve hot with either butter or gravy. As my Yankee husband observes, pretty darned good.

For a bonus picture, here’s a shot of my counter after the biscuits have been made. Sometimes you’ve got to make a mess to get something good.

 

 

 

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42 thoughts on “Five for Friday: Winter and Biscuits”

  1. I love your Winter photographs Laurie, especially the little doorways that need shoveling! Thank you for sharing the recipe too, it sounds very yummy. A wonderful weekend to you all and I hope this beautiful Winter weather stays around for a while :o) xxx

  2. Would it be so hard to figure out how much extra milk is in “1 cup of milk, strong”?? Is it two extra tablespoons? A 1/4 cup? Then there would be no confusion! 😛

    Glad that there is snow on the ground – a white Christmas is always a good thing. 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for the recipe, I have been experimenting with biscuit recipes recently. Love the woodpecker work. We have a bunch of trees in our woods that have hundreds of holes in them like these. It’s amazing!

      1. Susan, so sorry about the reply. I thought I was clicking on Beth’s comment and instead clicked on yours. What in the world!

  4. The picture of the woodpecker holes is amazing. Three holes in descending size, all perfectly formed, with just the right amount of snow. The beauty of nature captured by your receptive eye and photography skills. I love it. Thanks for the recipe.

  5. Biscuits are my favorite thing to make! I have my grandmothers recipe, one tip she gave me was to be sure and have the biscuits touching each other in the pan. But, ooh boy…biscuits and gravy, the perfect cold winter night comfort food! Yum! And, I’ll throw in a song about biscuits ( just for fun!!), performed by Tuba Skinny, a New Orleans jazz band that has played right here in the fields of Montville!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQDgZygTA7A

    1. Love that music! As for the biscuits touching each other—Yes! That’s exactly the way my mother did it, and that’s the way I do it, too.

  6. I saw my first and only pileated woodpecker about 20 years ago – and it was in Maine. I also saw my first scarlet tanager that same visit. My second scarlet tanager flew into my yard in front of my whole family about 10 years ago. We all screamed “oh!” and scared him right away.

    1. As the holes on the tree indicate, we have an abundance of pileated woodpeckers. They are an impressive bird, that’s for sure. We see scarlet tanagers much less frequently. Can’t blame you for screaming a joyful “Oh!” even if it did scare the bird.

  7. Oh, Lordy–that looks SO good! Such a perfect meal for a wintry night. I may need to steer my husband, the cook in the family, this direction–I’ll let you know. And I love the photo of the woodpecker holes–so cool!

    1. Thanks, Kerry. It was a very good meal for a wintry night. If your husband makes biscuits from my mother’s recipe, let me know how they turn out. I’ve received so many nice comments about the woodpecker holes that I’ve tucked the photo in my December 2017 photo file. I must just use it for a Christmas card next year for the bird lovers on my list.

    1. Even though they make holes in the trees, pileateds are part of the forest and are so fascinating to see and hear. Their cry is quite striking. We call them the Tarzan bird as their call is very similar to the one heard frequently in Tarzan.

  8. Wonderful! Love the snowy photo, the woodpecker’s little doors and the biscuits with gravy. Highly amused by your conversation with Shannon (:D) and awfully pleased as I now know that biscuits are similar to our dumplings! I had always been puzzled by biscuits with gravy.

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