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11.04.2004

Gloom, doom, and biscuits

It has been a very dark week in this land. Much doom, much to be gloomy about. Times like these make me wish my father had kept his Canadian citizenship. But then I remind myself of the thirteen holy reasons to love America despite its shady leaders, twisted foreign and domestic policy, and general unholiness.

1. History
2. The idiosyncrasies of American English
3. Blue states (and Oklahoma, because of a few shreds of irrational hometown loyalty)
4. The Star-Spangled Banner (okay, okay, it’s pretty)
5. Bruce Springsteen
6. Thanksgiving
7. S'mores
8. Peanut butter
9. Filibusters
10. Dischord Records
11. McSweeneys
12. American mice, which are bold yet mind-blowingly stupid and thus make for a great story. For purposes of comparison, French mice are bold, but they have the sophistication to know when to make themselves scarce. They thus make for stories that are only very good, not great. To illustrate, dear reader, we have an uplifting tale of the great American mouse, lovingly contributed by Doron, today's guest writer:

“P. and I have been having a mouse problem recently. One night we saw one run across our apartment into the coat closet. Naturally, I flipped out, screaming and already packing up my stuff in preparation for the move. I will not live with rodents.

...The next day we discovered two small holes at the base of the wall in the kitchen—aha, we were at the source! The management company came by and "closed them up." ...[But] lo and behold, one of the holes that was "closed up" was soon penetrated. See, unlike the meek French mice that run away and never return once you've had a confrontation, American mice have balls. They have the audacity and the tenacity to dig through your walls, eat your food, and shit all over your kitchen. No fear, I tell you.

...Late last night, I'm sending a couple of emails from the living room. P. is already sleeping, and the apartment is almost totally dark. All of a sudden, I hear some noises coming from the kitchen. The little mouse was apparently trying to get back "home." I quietly walk to the kitchen, squat, and observe in silence: looks like he has nowhere to go. This is my chance. I grab a plastic bag and put it over my hand. I grab a dustpan in the other hand. I pray that I don't scream and wake up my entire building. I'm sitting there, outside the kitchen, waiting quietly. I see him peek his little head and then proceed to come out of the kitchen and run in my direction. My speedy reflexes reacted, and I snatched the little fucker with the plastic-bagged hand. I'm holding a live mouse in my hand. I immediately invert the bag and tie it. Victory!

I took the bag downstairs at one in the morning and released him into the D.C. jungle. He's on his own now, and whether he makes it is not my concern. Retribution in all its glory. And a successful, more humane way of trapping a mouse.”

Amen. Long live Doron and American mice.

And last but not least,

13. Soft Southern flour, which makes for the very best buttermilk biscuits



There simply are not enough superlatives in this world to adequately describe these biscuits. They delicately straddle a line between flaky and creamy, and they're rich enough to make the addition of butter laughable. Most moan-inducing while piping hot, they are also miraculous when eaten cold with leftover roasted chicken while standing over the kitchen counter and watching the wind blow outside. As my friend Keaton exclaimed through her anti-tooth-grinding mouthguard one sleepy night in college: “I love bizzzzcuiths!”

Blessed be the biscuitmakers. America, you will be redeemed someday, and these biscuits may well have something to do with it.

Touch-of-Grace Biscuits
Adapted from Cookwise, by Super Food Scientist Shirley Corriher

Nonstick cooking spray
2 c Southern self-rising flour, such as White Lily
½ tsp salt
¼ c sugar
4 Tbs shortening, preferably the no-trans-fats Spectrum brand
2/3 c heavy cream
1 c buttermilk
1 c all-purpose flour, for shaping biscuits (do not use self-rising for this)
2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 475 and spray an 8” round cake pan with cooking spray.

Combine self-rising flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. With your fingers, work the shortening into the flour mixture until there are no lumps bigger than a large pea.

Stir in the heavy cream and buttermilk, taking care not to overmix. Let stand for 2-3 minutes. The dough will be alarmingly wet, resembling large-curd cottage cheese. Have no fear.

Pour the cup of all-purpose flour onto a plate or pie tin. Flour hands well. Using a ¼-cup measuring scoop, spoon a biscuit-sized lump of dough into the flour and sprinkle flour gently over it. Pick up biscuit and shape it roughly into a soft round, cradling it in the cupped palm of one hand and gently shaking off excess flour. It will feel not unlike a water balloon. Place biscuit in pan and repeat, pushing biscuits tightly against one another so that they will rise up and not spread out.

Brush biscuits with melted butter and bake until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Cool for a minute or two, then dump out and break apart into individual biscuits. Serve immediately.


Oh yes, America, you will be redeemed.

7 Comments:

Blogger amylou said...

14. Quarters
15. American breakfast (pancakes, french toast, etc.)

12:28 AM, November 05, 2004  
Blogger Molly said...

Amy, I second that. And just this morning I thought of a sixteenth: NPR. I heart NPR.

Please don't be shy if you think of other things I've inadvertently forgotten...

12:23 PM, November 05, 2004  
Blogger amylou said...

Oh my god...I actually had NPR as 16 but then I started thinking that the BBC is also good, and so is Swedish talk radio. I have to say though, NPR is probably in my top five things I miss about America.

4:39 PM, November 05, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the spirit of biscuit making and NPR, here are some words by Garrison Keillor:

"The first section of our show brought to you by Powdermilk Biscuits, in the big green box, made from whole wheat raised by Norwegian bachelor farmers, so you know they’re not only good for you, they’re also pure, mostly. Whole wheat that gives shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done. Heavens they’re tasty, and expeditious."

9:44 PM, December 03, 2004  
Blogger Molly said...

Anonymous, that's *PERFECT.* I can almost hear Garrison Keillor now. Thank you.

11:36 AM, December 04, 2004  
Blogger Aubrey said...

Speaking of biscuits - how well does this recipe quadruple? (I have a hoarde descending Sunday...) And thanks for the Avalon Fish Market tip - I'll head there next week. And I'll swing by Crescent Market - I always forget it's there, living in the rarified air of Edmond...

Aubrey in Edmond

2:44 PM, April 06, 2007  
Blogger Molly said...

Aubrey, I'm so sorry for not getting back to you sooner! If it's not too late, know that this recipe doubles and triples (and, I assume, quadruples) just fine. I've tripled it a number of times now for Thanksgiving and other family get-togethers, and it works like a charm.

Happy Easter to you and yours...

5:57 PM, April 07, 2007  

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