March 30, 2010

About similarities and differences, about good days and bad days, and small kitchens, and wish lists, and my still not perfect biscuits

I know, I know...the title is ridiculously long...and so will be this post...but today I woke up in a very weird mood. I should say in a very "depressed" mood. I know that people like to hear only good things, and for sure they do not look around for new blogs of depressed bakers...but that was my mood these days so...what the heck...that's what I'm going to be writing about in this post (although, I promise, there is a happy ending). Somehow I believe that blogs are just a form of modern-day-personal-diaries with the difference that people die for having somebody finding them and "spying" into them :-)

So why did I wake up in a gloomy mood these days? First of all, last week was a busy and tiring week for me and also for Wally. The result was that we did not see each other much and this, by itself, would be enough to put me in a bad mood (I should be worried if that wasn't the case, right?). Sunday night he also played at a festival in San Francisco (amazing show!) and we end up going to be late and tired. When I woke up yesterday morning I was still tired but I'm on holiday so that wasn't a problem. However, as I look outside the was raining! The wonderful spring weather of the past two weeks has decided to leave Oakland exactly on the first day of my holiday and on the second day of holiday (and apparently for the entire week). So much for my plans of long energetic walks!

There is also another, bigger, issue that contributed to my "depressed" mood of this morning. I am still waiting for my working permit, which means that I have not been employed (nor paid) for three months and I won't be for who knows how much longer. Sometimes, in life I feel in constant transition...I know, it's a contradiction...a transition is - by definition - temporary...but I really feel I simply jump from one thing to another, as well as I jumped from one country to another in the past years (I am not jumping from one husband to another though :-) ). I always felt I am not able to "put roots" in a place or to stick to a plan or to finish something I have started with great enthusiasm. In the last couple of weeks I have been thinking a lot about all this, up to the point of questioning my decision of dropping out of my PhD program (but rationally, I am really convinced that was one of the best decisions I've taken in my life).

Anyway, I know this period of transition will after all finish but in the meantime it seems endless and it is very frustrating. So, yesterday morning I woke up in this weird mind set and it took me some time to really wake up and get active. I finally went out to run some errands and by the time I got back it really started to rain harder. That's when I decided to watch a movie on Netflix. The problem is that when I am in such a weird mood no movie is really going to entice me. Not hoping for much, I open the webpage and.....the very first movie among the "suggestions for you" was Julie & Julia. I hadn't watched that movie yet but since when I started the blog many friend have been telling me "Oh you remind me of the movie Julie & Julia! Have you seen it? You must have seen it!" almost to the point of becoming annoying. So at this point, I HAD to watch that movie.

I'm sure many of you food bloggers out there had my same reaction. I REALLY identified myself with Julie. The way my blog started was actually pretty similar to hers. It was indeed my husband suggestion, as a means for me to express myself and to talk about something I like doing and that takes my mind away from my job, my problems, my bad moods, my insecurities. I also went (hmmmm, going actually) through the same phase Julie went through: wondering if all the effort I put into the blog is worth; asking myself if there might be someone out there reading it; thinking about how can I have people to read it, follow it, use it. I even question my baking skills, the originality of the recipes and/or of my blog. After all, there are thousands of food blogs out there. Why should somebody stop at mine? Why should somebody choose to come back to it? Even right now, I am sure I am not writing anything new. Many people will have thought the same. But that is not point. The point is that in this "depressed" mood I have been asking myself the wrong questions and I have lost sight of the true meaning that this blog has for me. As I said at the beginning of this post, a blog is, after all, a personal diary. It is meant first of all for me. It has a meaning first of all to me. It is useful first of all to me. And it is first of all about me and about my experiences with baking, for good or for bad. 

This is what my blog has to show, no matter whether somebody finds it and spy into it or not. So thanks to my husband, who gave me this great idea and keeps supporting it; thanks to all the food bloggers out there who give me wonderful ideas and tips every day I read them; thanks to those who read my blog and to those who will not read my blog (too bad you don't get to read my thank you :-) ). And thanks even to my small, badly equipped, cheap kitchen...because without it I could not be doing all this :-)

After all these considerations, I decided to exploit once again my tiny kitchen. Lately I have been trying to find the recipe for some great biscuits. I have found an amazing post that taught me a lot about biscuits and has a recipe for Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits. Mine still did not come out so perfect (I'm sure because of the changes I have made) but if this blog is about my baking experiments I want to post also those that do not give me quite the result I was expecting (in this case because the biscuits did not rise a lot). Hey, there were still pretty good though...just not perfect :-)

My Still-Not-Perfect Biscuits

Yield: 6 Biscuits

1cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I like King Arthur too, as the author of the above post)
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt 
2 tbsp unsalted butter (chilled and cubed)*
6oz buttermilk (chilled)
2 tbsp sour cream

* I did not use lard as suggested in the recipe simply because I did not have it at home, not for any aversion towards lard. I'm Italian, lard does not intimidate me :-)

Preheat oven to 500° F and set oven rack to the center of the oven.

Combine dry ingredients in a big bowl and stir. Add chilled butter mix until the the mixture looks pebbly (do not over mix).

Gently stir in the buttermilk (use a fork) and the sour cream until just incorporated. The dough will be very wet and sticky at this point.

Turn onto a generously floured board and generously flour the top, and fold over, flour, pat, fold, flour until workable but still a little tacky. This should take about 5 folds. Try not to add too much flour, as that will toughen the biscuits, and do not knead the dough, which would also toughen the biscuits. Simply fold and pat out flat. The final pat before cutting should leave your biscuit dough about 1/3 inch to 1/2 inch thick.

Cut biscuits using a floured biscuit cutter or the floured rim of a drinking glass and put them on a baking pan prepared with a baking sheet or lightly greased or sprayed with nonstick coating, with the sides just kissing each other.

Put them in the oven, close the oven door, and turn the temperature down to 450° F. Bake for 10-12 minutes. If you have a convection oven, use the convection fan and cut the baking time down to 9-11 minutes. The circulating air will create a taller and more evenly baked biscuit. The tops of your biscuits should be a lovely brown, and the sides will be considerably lighter. Remove these from the oven and serve them immediately.


  1. I think your biscuits look lovely. I. too. am on a perfect biscuit quest.

  2. Thank you Kathleen. I have read about biscuits and their secrets for 1 week before trying these so I was pretty sure I was going to be able to make the raise high and soft....I was not...let me know if find some great recipe. I'm not giving up :)

  3. You so need to keep it up!!! And you blame me for yummy goodness!?!?! And you post all this great stuff!?! Rofl...

    Kim @
    party inspiration

  4. Hi - I came over here from Foodie Blogroll. I love a good biscuit. Keep at it with the blog and it will morph into whatever is right for you. :)

  5. Thanks for all the encouragements! I promise I won't give up on biscuits :)


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