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
- 2 cups of flour
- 3 heaping tablespoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 4 tablespoons of Crisco
- 1 cup of milk, strong
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Cut in the Crisco until it is well mixed with the flour, and it all looks crumbly.
- 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.
- Pat the dough with flour and flip it, shaping it to desired thickness.
- 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.
- Bake for ten or fifteen minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
- 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.