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I love food blogs.  I love the recipes, I love the stories, I love the photos — I just love food blogs.  One might even say I am a bona fide Smitten Kitchen fangirl.  Fangirl on the scale of too awed to follow her on Twitter, fangirl of a level that makes me hesitant to have even linked to the blog in this post for fear that through the magic of the interwebs, she might find this blog and (heaven forbid) read it.  Oh, the mortification.  Thankfully, I came to my senses and realized the chances of that are quite wee, and instead I will gleefully redirect anyone who thinks that this post right here might resemble food blogging in a more appropriately foodie-worthy direction.  Go now.  I’ll wait.

Where was I?  Oh yes, I love food blogs.  As previously stated, this is not a food blog, but between my love of cooking and admiration of the food bloggers, I thought perhaps I’d take an intermittent stab at some recipes here.  But what, really, do I have to add to this conversation? I am not exactly an authority on much of anything food-related!  After consulting with my mother and sister, though, I have decided to use our family recipes as the basis for these excursions into food bloggery.  It could get interesting, given that I have serious doubts that anyone can actually make my father’s cole slaw other than my father, and I suspect you may be subject to a series of posts entitled “In Which I Attempt Mama’s Fried Chicken AGAIN”, beginning with part I and ending with part XVI, to be subtitled “I give up, I give up, someone find the fountain of youth for my mother so this chicken never returns to Heaven aka whence it came”.  That said, if you’re up for the trip, there are some tasty recipes in here — at least, my family thinks so.  If nothing else, this should cut down on the number of last-minute phone calls my mother has to field on Thanksgiving, and that alone should make it worthwhile.

Yes, that is my original writing notebook from 5th grade.

Saturday I made gingerbread apple upside-down cake and found myself with leftover buttermilk.  It seemed only fitting that the first recipe I attempted, then, would be buttermilk biscuits.  In retrospect, this might not have been the best recipe to start out on, as I remembered towards the end of making it that it has a few foibles.

This isn’t terribly surprising when one considers that I adapted this recipe when I was in the fifth grade.  We were doing a project on the Civil War, and my presentation was on the food of the era.  I decided I would make some reproductions of the food, and in order to do that I found modern recipes and altered them based on what I thought they might have had on hand at the time.  So for example, while this recipe originally called for butter, I switched it out for shortening because according to my sources (goodness only knows what those might have been), there was no butter available during the war.  I’m not entirely sure what else I changed, but I think it had to do with the proportions of the soda and baking powder.  I’m not sure.  In any case, under the circumstances I imagine a few foibles are understandable.

I am pretty sure that biscuit cutter also is from at least 5th grade. Possibly the Civil War.

Most of the recipe is fine, with a few significant details.  Alright, mostly one significant detail.  The part where it says “roll out to 1/2 inch”, in fact, is the most foible-y of the foibles. These biscuits are lovely, and come out tender and flaky in the middle with a nice crust on the bottom and top.  The problem comes in that they do not really rise all that much (likely due to something I did with the soda and baking powder amounts in all my fifth grade wisdom), so when you roll it out to 1/2 inch (or, as I did, slightly less in spots), you will end up with a 1/2 inch high biscuit.  Since the top and bottom are both crusty, and the top and bottom are only about a 1/2 inch apart, you get more of a crusty, buttermilky not-quite-a-cracker than a biscuit.  Maybe more of a British biscuit, except not as much like a cookie, and saltier.  They still taste good, mind you!  It’s just not exactly what one might hope for when one set out to make buttermilk biscuits.  Oops.  The remedy for that, I think, will be that rather than rolling out to 1/2 inch, one should roll out to as thick as you feel like having biscuits, and go from there.  However, I can’t say that I have actually attempted this particular fix, so I don’t know if it will work quite as I hope it would.

After that ringing endorsement (cough), here is the recipe, as written in my fifth grade writing notebook, sloppy handwriting and all.  (Italics are my current notes.)

1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 tsp. salt
scant 1/4 soda — I assume I meant 1/4 tsp here.
1/2 cup buttermilk & a little bit  — I don’t know how much a little bit is.  It’s just… a little bit.  you know?

Sift Sifters were deemed a luxury and not used in the Civil War, according to my sources.  Ahem. flour, salt, baking powder and soda together.  Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add buttermilk, stir until dough follows fork around bowl. This is where the “& a little bit” comes in — it takes more than 1/2 cup, but not that much.  Just add a little bit at a time until you get it all to stick together.

Roll out 1/2″ thick yeah, we already covered this one on lightly floured board and cut with biscuit cutter, place on greased baking sheet or on a silpat, which I didn’t have in 5th grade and they totally missed out on in 1863, brush lightly with butter or today I used bacon drippings, bake in pre-heated oven at 475 for 10 to 15 minutes.

Tried to rotate this image and failed. It still looks okay though, right?

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