Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Great Speckled Herb Biscuits

Mother's Day weekend I went on a baking frenzy. Friday's zucchini muffins brought back memories of Mom. Saturday's nut butter cookies and Sunday's cornmeal lemon cookies were in memory of two of my other mothers who have passed on.

And, it's only reasonable that the Mother's Day baking frenzy should segue to thoughts of my grandmothers for this weekend's baking project.

I remember (step) Grandma Harris as a devout Pentecostal lady. Like many fundamentalist women of her generation, she never, ever wore pants. She'd borne 11 children, lost one, and had been a widow many years. She was terribly proud of the fact that she could still span her waist with three hands. She loved the Roy Acuff song "The Great Speckled Bird", and she'd sing it as she went about her chores.  I don't remember her being much of a cook. 

My baby sister remembers Grandma Harris as a hottie who wore mini skirts and go-go boots. (My sister and I remember a lot of things differently.)

My maternal grandmother was also of a fundamentalist persuasion. She, too, did not wear pants. And there any resemblance to Grandma Harris ends. Granny was heavy and buxom, her waist unfindable beneath the sagging weight of glands that had fed her 7 babies. Granny never sang. But, she could make biscuits.  Granny's biscuits were a thing of joy and beauty. Tender small morsels, comprised of perfectly proportioned but unmeasured ingredients, baked in a hot iron skillet to golden perfection.

Those were some biscuits.

Great Speckled Herb Biscuits: Gluten Free
Today I made biscuits. Yet another variation off of Roben Ryberg's. This time heavily laced with herbs from my happy place, Grebar Farms. Sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and chives. Little patties of Thanksgiving in May.  I think both of my grandmothers would have liked them, in spite that new-fangled Gluten Free thing.

Great Speckled Herb Biscuits


3.5 ounces grapeseed oil
Thyme, chives, rosemary, and sage
150 grams brown rice flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
5/8 tsp sea salt
1/4  tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp onion powder
Freshly ground pepper
1.5  Tbsp minced fresh sage
1.5 tsp fresh thyme
1.5 tsp fresh minced rosemary
1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
6.1 ounces whole goat milk
1 1/2 Tbsp organic sugar
I have no idea how much pepper I use.
About 8 to 12 grinds, maybe.

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 375 (f) and liberally grease a big iron skillet or a cookie sheet.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together with a wire whisk.
  3. Whisk in the herbs.
  4. Mix wet ingredients together.
  5. Mix liquid stuff into the dry stuff until well combined.
    When it's just about right, I usually hear little crackly sounds.
  6. Drop the biscuits onto prepared skillet or cookie sheet, then gently shape a little with well-oiled fingers. 
  7. Bake at 375 (f) for about 12-18 minutes. A toothpick will come out clean, and tops will spring back a little when pressed. 

I love weighing my ingredients.
So much less mess to clean up!
How mixed is mixed enough?
The dough will hold together and look like this.
Listen for little crackly sounds.

Granny always baked her biscuits in a big iron skillet.
It probably hearkened back to a time when people didn't have a variety of baking pans.
It's hard to get smooth iron nowadays. But if you can find it, it really is the best.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Tip of the Day: Dealing with Bulk Sausage

Spouse loves bagel sandwiches -- like the kind he used to get at our local bagel shop. Even with pre-made GF bagels, making them is a chore.

And, when I say, chore, I don't mean "my favorite chore" or even "a chore that I don't mind doing too much because it's not horrible."

I mean, "Chore." Capital "C" and all.

One reason it's a chore is because bagel sandwiches require sausage patties. And, getting a pre-made GF sausage patty that doesn't contain maltodextrin, autolyzed yeast, "natural flavors", mysterious "spices, and other forms of evil... Well, good luck with that. Let me know when you find someone who makes them.  I'll buy stock in the company.

Meanwhile, the only way I can get sausage patties is to buy the really nice bulk sausage at Sprouts.  Several forms of it contain only food.

But, it's bulk. That means ickifying your hands, patting the stuff out, getting bits of it everywhere, washing your hands 4 zillion times, having to sterilize your kitchen afterwards. And, no matter how good you are of a patter, the sausages never come out an even thickness.  Bleh. It's just not my favorite task.

But, disgust is the mother of necessity, and thus the grandmother of invention. Maybe you've figured this out long ago, but, for me, the method below is something I've recently figured out.  It's not necessarily the most green way of making sausage.  But, it is a real sanity saver.

  • Wax paper
  • A glass with straight sides
  • Food service gloves
  • Table knife
  • Skillet
  • Spatula
  • Cleaning supplies, including Vodka
  • Sausage
  • Maybe a little oil for the skillet

  1. Put on your food service gloves.

    The nice thing about food service gloves: You can wash them much like you would your hands, without removing all your skin in the process.
  2. Place bulk sausage between 2 sheets of waxed paper.
  3. Roll sausage to about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thickness using the glass.
    I don't use a rolling pin because the glass is a lot easier
    to wash, and you don't need the weight and precision you get
    with a rolling pin.
  4. Peel back the top layer of waxed paper,
    and cut the sausage into squares.

    Make them a larger than you think you need.

    Sausage is notorious for shrinking.
  5. Put a little oil in the skillet and start pre-heating it.
  6. Carefully peel the sausage off the bottom layer of
    waxed paper and place sausage in the skillet.
  7. Cook sausage until it's done, then use it to make
    a batch of breakfast sandwiches.