Monday, June 26, 2023

A Biscuit by any other name

I've been having a hard time with this post!  Not sure which way to go as there are many ways to detour. Here goes, I hope you can follow my train of thought and don't think I'm lecturing.

The other day after posting this photo of our little campfire meal Susan commented that they, in New Zealand and Australia (and probably other parts of the world,) call these scones.  

To us this is a not a scone but a biscuit.  There is a semanitic difference. Here if you say scone you will get something flaky but much more dense and generally served at breakfast or with a cup of coffee or tea for a snack.  They can be plain, savory, sweet and with fruit floating in them.

Biscuits, on the other hand are much lighter, flakier and not dense at all if made right, usually served with supper but can be breakfast in parts of the U.S. Sometimes, if for breakfast, with a hunk of sausage in the middle. 

I am NOT the authority on scone or biscuit but there are regional differences here. A scone can be considered a biscuit, sort of, but a biscuit isn't a scone.  Kind of like a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square. Scones are dense, sweeter, with a flake but, well, heavier than a biscuit. A biscuit is supposed to be very light, very flaky, not sweet but definitely eaten freshly made, warm, buttered and honeyed.  Maybe jam but definitely honey.

This is not a biscuit.  This is a cookie.  I make my own but will occasionally but rarely buy Oreos to crumble them up for a certain dessert. If we are eating a cookie, I made it. 

I do occasionally, since I have been recently to England and have friends in Australia, think of them as biscuits with nostalgia but I can't CALL them that out loud because everyone would be expecting something in the second photo. 

It's one of the busiest aisles at the grocery store because there are so many varieties. Here they are cookies.

This is strawberry season so we are seeing packaged biscuits at the grocery store stocked next to the strawberries if you are so inclined to buy your strawberries from the grocery store that are shipped in from Mexico and not willing to go to a farmer for yours.  I generally say if it's summer and I am eating a fruit I picked it myself. 
Like everything else, strawberry shortcake to many people, means a biscuit like this topped with crushed fruit and whipped cream.  For me it's a piece of pound cake or angel food cake but not a biscuit.

Then there are these.  The package says they are a biscuit and for ONE thing ONLY and only once a year I use them. At Christmas my kids and grands expect monkey bread so I use these.  But they are not really a biscuit in the culinary sense.  They are pretend.

During covid I did some curiosity cooking.  Many, many of us did. Baking bread was HUGE and finding yeast and flour was sometimes a challenge.  If you found it you weren't supposed to think twice about it, you bought it. 

I read an article titled "Why Northerners Can't Make Good Biscuits."  And I thought it was just me. Flaky biscuits are synonymous with the South.
Well, it turns out Southerners make good biscuits because of the flour they use.

This brand of flour is what people in the south use, they swear by it for light, fluffy biscuits. It can't be bought north of Tennessee.  Look at the top right corner of the bag.  It says it's soft winter wheat flour.
Here in the north we grow and use hard wheat flour and hard wheat flour apparently makes denser biscuits.  Not the light fluffy ones. 
OK, I thought, I have to find some White Lily.  I asked my SIL to bring some back from Florida.  She said she couldn't find it.  I asked a friend who winters there and she couldn't find it.  I called the White Lily company and asked where in the south can my people find it?  She said a store called Publix.  My people couldn't find it in Publix.  I looked on Amazon but sometimes I just don't want to pay Amazon's inflated price for the obscure. 
Then one day I was in my grocery store, and there on the shelf was White Lily flour!  It was a supply chain thing.  They couldn't get King Arthur (the ONLY flour I use) but could source White Lily! Shelves were well stocked so I bought lots and put the bags in the freezer for future biscuits. 

I firmly believe we eat with our memory.  We remember what mom or grandma made and how it tasted to us then and we want it again now and either use their recipe or hunt down something similar.  We make whatever it is, pot roast to cookies, spaghetti sauce to those brownies and somehow it just isn't "like mom (or grandma) used to make."  Close but not the same. Our brains remember but our tummies aren't fooled.

I think the ingredients have changed.  Butter is definitely different than it was when I was a kid.  How many of our mothers and grandmothers used lard for pies, margarine or something called oleo instead of butter?  How many baked from scratch in our brains but we now find out now they opened a box of chocolate pudding, dumped it into a pie shell and called it chocolate pie? 

I have to remember when I was a kid it was the 1950s boxed, canned and frozen food was the new "in" thing and they all used them.  So, when my brother or I are reminiscing or searching for a recipe that can only come close to what we remember our first question to each other is, "did you WATCH them make it?  Did they open a boxed mix? " Because if they did we will never duplicate it. 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Colonial cooking

 Our Elizabeth is totally immersed in Colonial American history and she is bringing the rest of the family in with her.  This past weekend was Father's Day so they had us up to their cottage and we/they cooked a meal over an open fire, just like a Colonial encampment.  Well, maybe not just like it, but it sure was our best attempt.

    Son-in-law skewered an eggplant as part of the experiment. We thought that would turn to eggplant mushyness and fall off but it didn't.  It didn't cook to mush level. 

                                                               There was a pot of veggie stew
                                                                            And biscuits
We may not be up to the par of Jennie's Bernie and Josh and their open fire cooking but for our first attempt this was absolutely luscious.  We sat there thinking of what to try next...chicken?  turkey?  We might ask Bernie or Josh what they recommend.

PH and I then went less than an hour to his brother and SIL's cabin for three days of boats, cards and more eating WELL. Summer is looking pretty good and it's only mid-June!

Friday, June 16, 2023

Chicken or egg?

Remember a few posts back when I talked about the eggs on the shelf in England?  We bought some, ate them but I couldn't throw away those cute little egg boxes.   I know, I know, but I also warned you about keeping cute containers, you never know when you might need a cute container.  I look at many things with the cute-container-eye. 

So, yes, I somehow got these two fragile paper boxes home in the overstuffed suitcase.  This is one of those things PH said I had to make fit in MINE because it was so weird to be bringing them home.

But look what I did with them!  Pincushion!!  Cute chick fat in the stash was just right. 
I had a couple of other chicken fabrics but they are lost in the translation.  The bright graphic chickens don't show up, they were too big.  Maybe someday I'll switch them out and maybe they can stay.  But for now they're all pretty darned cute.  See? Save those cute containers, you never know!

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Waiting in the pile

 It occurred to me I've mentioned three quilts that have been pinned and now sit in the basket waiting their turn to be quilted.  But I haven't showed them.  

I've started on the applique for Charlie's graduation quilt and it's testing me.  It's a simple design but it's still testing me so I'm glad I have some choices in diversions.  There are, of course, all of those Liberty circles to applique.

So here are the ones waiting. By waiting I mean they've been layered and are ready. 

This Liberty flying geese quilt makes me smile every time I look at it.  It's all Liberty of London fabrics, even the backing!!  When we were in London and at Liberty again I was told (after I made some purchases) that there was a sale floor.  I found the backing for $9.95 a yard!  Usually, Liberty runs close to $30 a yard!  I wish I wasn't so darned tired that day, and I wish I didn't have a closet full of fabric I still need to use before I die. But I did get backing for this one.
                                                                I love the bohemian look to this.
This one turned out exactly like I wanted it to.  Now, usually I make things up as I go along, pulling from the stash and just going with it.  But the print I used as my white separating blocks was special, I love, love, love it and didn't want to spoil those little sheep and children by cutting them up too much. Yet, I'm not getting any younger and MUST choose to use those special fabrics.  So I decided to do a very, very low volume 9 patch and chose colors for the 9's that went with the colors in the sheep/children squares and I am very happy with it.  Can't wait for this one to be done.

I think I showed this one before but it's finally layered and ready for the needle.

Friday, June 9, 2023


 Do you believe in ghosts?  I do, but I don't know that I actually call them that.  Have I seen any?  Well, yes, but sometimes you don't have to "see" them to know they are there, are real or exist.  I've seen my grandma, my father-in-law,  knew of my mom's intervention when it was needed, knew of a nephew's return to 'visit' his son, grand daughter talked with them in their house when she was a toddler and even now says they are still in their house, there are many instances.  I think if you are open they will let you know they are around.

Yesterday evening I went on a ghost tour in downtown Grand Rapids.  Our guide took us on a walk through the streets stopping at the oldest buildings and sites in the city and told us of 'ghosts' that make themselves known within the old buildings.  

Luckily there are many old buildings in Grand Rapids that have not been replaced by 'progress' and have been renovated and still occupied.  The stories the people who still work or live in those buildings tell!   
Our guide is well versed in these stories, and it was a lot of fun to hear them.  

I grew up in this city and during a time when I was my grand kids' ages our downtown was accessible and fun for us.  We grew up knowing these old buildings and hearing the names of the town 'fathers' so this was a special treat for me. It was also very interesting to see how much the center of the city has changed from my wandering days.  I worked down here for many years and watched the decline over time so to see so many new places filling in again was fun.  And hearing some of these stories was the frosting on the cake. 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Making progress

 Well, it's been said before, and many times by me...if you aren't working on it, it won't get done.

I have a thing about being inside when the weather is nice...warm, sunny, blooming, tweeting.  I can't be inside, even if outside means just sitting on the porch with the afternoon and a book.  

But I've also discovered that if you're not working on the stitches things don't get stitched. Those elves that helped the shoemaker out are apparently not quilters.  So. The other day I took my Liberty circles out with me and stitched.  

                                  Sitting out back with the container of circles, needle and thread
 enjoying the view and the sun and the sounds (birds, chipmunks and squirrels running through the leaves, turkeys out on the hill, deer running past ) and the green, Oh, that green!
I started to work for real. I stitched them outside and inside in the evening while we watched a little TV until we chose a program that's subtitled so no stitching now till that series is over.

                          and actually accomplished enough that I could think "wow! I have a pile!"

This is a project Friend Barb and I were doing together.  She, of course, is finished with hers, it's been machine quilted and bound. Done.  I'm not even close but getting closer.