Monday, December 30, 2013

Biscuit Boot Camp

I've been down this road before.  During my annual rereading of Lonesome Dove, the following passage always stirs something deep in my soul:

The heart of his breakfast was a plenitude of sourdough biscuits, which he cooked in a Dutch oven out in the backyard. His pot dough had been perking along happily for over ten years, and the first thing he did upon rising was check it out. The rest of the breakfast was secondary, just a matter of whacking off a few slabs of bacon and frying a panful of pullet eggs. Bolivar could generally be trusted to deal with the coffee. 
Augustus cooked his biscuits outside for three reasons. One was because the house was sure to heat up well enough anywayduring the day, so there was no point in building any more of a fire than was necessary for bacon and eggs. Two was because biscuits cooked in a Dutch over tasted better than stove-cooked biscuits, and three was because he liked to be outside to catch the first light. A man that depended on an indoor cookstove would miss the sunrise, and if he missed sunrise in Lonesome Dove, he would have to wait out a long stretch of heat and dust before he got to see anything so pretty.

And each time I'm inspired to bake biscuits.  However, this year is different.  This year I'm serious.  Here is proof of my seriousness:

I've purchased two cookbooks dedicated solely to the art of biscuit making.

Southern Biscuits by Natalie Dupree
Biscuits by Belinda Ellis

Also I stocked my pantry with self-rising Southern flour.  I found Martha White flour at my local Dillon's, but I had to special order the White Lily flour, which isn't available in Kansas.   You see, the key to biscuit making is a Soft Winter Wheat, which has a lower protein content and is primarily grown in the South.  Using Southern flour is the first step to produce pillowy biscuits.  In future blog posts, I will share my trials and tribulations of biscuit boot camp.

may your biscuits always be buttered,
muddywaters

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Swaddled by a Cinnamon Roll


I have a recurring dream where I'm standing at the gates of heaven, and just as I'm about to take my first step to enter, St. Peter informs me, "Sir, I know how your really like to eat, so I should inform me that in heaven there is no . . ." And then he completes the sentence with something like BBQ, beer, bourbon, bacon, or pie.  This dream/nightmare stirs anxiety in me as I face the dilemma of what to do next.

Sometimes St. Peter informs me that there are no cinnamon rolls in heaven, and this stirs defiance on my part. After hearing about the absence of cinnamon rolls in heaven, I burst into a profanity-laced tirade. There's no way I'm stepping through those pearly gates. I know that when contemplating heaven I shouldn't concern myself with earthly matters, but my stomach's spiritual compass can be a bit wonky.




I love cinnamon rolls. I always have. If I had to rank my
 favorite foods, cinnamon rolls would be at the top. For me cinnamon rolls are the ultimate comfort food. Eating a cinnamon roll is the equivalent of being swaddled in a quilt made by my grandmother.





A few years ago I read about the cinnamon rolls at Johnson's Corner in Loveland, Colorado, and I knew that I would have to stop the next time I rolled through the front range of the Rocky Mountains. Here's what you need to know about the rolls: They're huge. They're 1300 calories (you should be able to capitalize numbers to emphasize their importance). They taste FANTASTIC. I just have one complaint. There's too much icing. I prefer a light glaze on my rolls. I know that I'm in the minority with this criticism, but I prefer to enjoy the essence of a cinnamon roll, which in my opinion, can be smothered by too much icing.


roll on,

muddywaters




PS. . . I'm not a Neil Young fan because his voice grates on me, but for some reason on the day I drove down from the mountain from Estes Park to Loveland, I listened to his album Rust Never Sleeps. Let me tell you: It's perfect music for driving down a mountain.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pass the Tzatziki, Dill Weed!

Back in the late 70's around Pomona, Kansas, "Dill Weed" was a popular insult to hurl at friends and enemies.  For example, it might be heard in the following context:  "Give me a bite of your Reggie Bar, Dill Weed!"


Because of the prevalence of this insult during my childhood, I laugh each time I reach for dill weed when I cook.


You would think at some point of my life I would outgrow juvenile inclinations, but you can't take the boy out of the man.  Lately, I've been chuckling a lot because I've been using dill weed to prepare tzatziki.  This summer we've been enjoying chicken that's marinated in a Greek vinaigrette that's served with homemade pita bread, tzatziki, and marinated onions/tomatoes. The combination of flavors satisfies the palette, and the tzatziki is the star.  It's provides a refreshing, creamy, and cool flavor that will be very satisfying when the July temperatures soar into the triple digits.  If you've never made tzatziki, you should.  It's so simple that even Dill Weeds can prepare it.

Tzatziki

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, strained
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh dill or dried.

Preparation:

Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix until well combined. Using a whisk, blend the yogurt with the sour cream. Add the olive oil mixture to the yogurt mixture and mix well. Finally, add the cucumber and chopped fresh dill. Chill for at least two hours before serving.
Garnish with a sprig of fresh dill just before serving, Dill Weed.

See you later, Dill Weed!
muddywaters

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Long as I Can See the Light

 

I'm back. There's no good reason for my absence. My absence can only be attributed to lack of discipline on my part. I'm returning because I need the blog in my life. For the past five months or so, I've let others dictate my mood, and I haven't been the person I want to be. Restarting this blog is my way of reclaiming myself. The blog allows me to create a culture that nurtures my soul. When I'm blogging I find that I have a heightened awareness and appreciation for the blessings that surround me. This might sound like hyperbolic mumbo jumbo, but I know it's true.

For now, I'm back. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm going to enjoy the journey. I do know that I would like to see the following changes in my blog:

  • Shorter entries.
  • Less polish.
  • More focus on the great state of Kansas.
  • More stories.
  • More honesty.
  • More fun.
  • Less pictures of food.
  • More rambling.
  • More dirt roads.
  • More writing about being a teacher.

Hopefully, I'll see you a couple days.

 

I hope all is well,

muddywaters