Friday, February 13, 2009

The best of days, the worst of days.

It's Friday! the 13th. Let's focus on the Friday part, shall we?

Today's soup is a very hearty Vegetable Soup (vegan).

Panini specials are The Virginian, turkey, ham, havarti & whole seed dijon, the Apple Alexander, Granny Smith apple, brie and honey grilled on ciabatta and The TCB - turkey, cranberry & brie.

Carmen Duff was my maternal grandmother and namesake. To her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (and friends thereof) she was Granny Duff. She had a quiet voice, dislike conflict and was most comfortable chatting as she bustled around the kitchen. There was always a basket of biscuits sitting on the table, a couple left over from the previous meal, ready to accept a dollop of jam, a slice of ham or, in the summer, a slathering of butter and a slice of tomato fresh from the garden.

Today is Granny Duff's birthday and I miss her. It was Granny that I called to find out how to fry chicken (on the stove then finish in the oven) or to ask why my pinto beans never tasted as good as hers (not enough salt). There were so many things she just threw together without a second thought. A cucumber onion salad made with some magical combination of vinegar, water and sugar was served at every meal and I have yet to be able to reproduce it. Maybe it wasn't just the recipe, but the ingredients as well. Paw-Paw's garden was a sight to behold. Those cukes were grown and served with love.

Granny said these were called angel biscuits because they were so light and fluffy and everyone said they tasted heavenly. Make biscuits for someone you love and remember my cooking angel - Granny Duff.

Granny's Angel Biscuits
5 cups flour, unsifted
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup lard (yes, lard. Can be found in the meat case in large supermarkets. You can also use Crisco® or Butter Flavored Crisco®)
2 packages yeast
1/2 cup warm water (about 100°)
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups "sweet" milk with a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice added to it)

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Set aside to proof. In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients. Cut lard or shortening into dry ingredients (same technique as used to make pie crust. See video below.) Add proofed yeast and buttermilk. Stir together briefly without over working dough. It's going to be sticky! Pat to 1/2 inch thickness and cut into biscuits (Granny Duff used a recycled sweetened condensed milk can).* Bake in 425° oven for about 10-12 minutes. Turn oven up to broil if needed to brown the tops.

* Raw cut biscuits can be frozen on a cookie sheet then stored in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. To bake, place in a cold oven.

How to "cut-in"