Thursday, March 1, 2012

The biscuit diaries

We both agreed that a little exercise was in order if we were ever going to bounce back from the high-calorie/low-activity regime we'd been pursuing ever since I tasted my first bite of stuffing on Thanksgiving Day. And walking on the beach seemed like a fine way to do it together. But that's where the sense of détente sorta fizzled. You see, she likes to powerwalk, with a rapid, rhythmic, arms-pumping gait that really eats up the miles. I, on the other hand, prefer a sort of weaving ramble that gives me an opportunity to closely examine every interesting-looking shell and odd bit of flotsam the waves have to offer. Her technique is a true cardiovascular workout, while mine is, in my opinion, kinder, gentler, and, I admit, significantly lazier, too.
So what's a beach-loving couple to do if they want to extend togetherness to their daily seashore hike?
She has discovered that I am easily motivated by the promise of a bit of Southern-style breakfast along the way, and there's just the place a mile south of the beach access across from our house. The Seaview fishing pier that extends 1000 feet into the ocean features bait, fishing tackle, fish-cleaning stations, astounding views, nice people and--you guessed it--possibly the finest example of the biscuit-making art on the entire southeastern seaboard. She only has to remind me of what's a mere 5,280 steps ahead to jar me out of my poky pace.
She: I hope they're not out of biscuits already.
Me: Let's pick it up a little, shall we?
Her wily motivational methods have produced some astounding results, as once she's got me going, I tend to follow along without too much argument, resulting in some lengthy jaunts, including one memorable trek that took us an astonishing seven miles to the tip of our island and back, while causing me to wonder how quickly the crabs would eat me if I collapsed and died in the sand.
My knees are aching and my dogs are barking, but she's got me figured out.
If I were a mule, she'd just use a carrot and a stick. As I am of a higher species, it just takes biscuits.
But here's the thing.
As far as I can tell, there are two major religions in Southeastern North Carolina--Baptists and biscuits. I'm happy enough remaining a devoted Roman Catholic, but I have, without a doubt, become an ardent devotee of the latter area of interest. Because, believe me, these NC biscuits are the real deal. The best ones, like those from the aforementioned pier café, combine a exterior crispness that melds with a magical combination of moistness and flakiness on the inside. So far, I've determined that they're good with just about anything from butter or cheese to a full-bore, multi-course meal. As an enthusiastic amateur bread baker, I figured biscuit making would be my next kitchen project. I mean, how tough can it be to produce a crisp, moist, flaky chunk of mouth-watering pastry?
Well, pretty tough, as it turns out.
While some of my attempts have been tasty enough, I've never come close to attaining the crispy/flaky texture that makes the best ones so darn good. Most recently, we tried the recipe on the back of a bag of a regional product called "Southern Biscuit" flour, thinking it would surely lead us to bountiful bites of homemade biscuit nirvana.
Not so much.
My daughter-in-law's grandmother, a fine Southern lady with considerable skills around the kitchen, has promised me lessons. But until then, I guess I'll have to be content with being the self-proclaimed Official Biscuit Maker of the National Hockey League.
I mean, they can probably always use a few more pucks.

1 comment:

  1. Not sure if these are anything like the biscuits you're eating in NC but here is a recipe for a classic delicious buttermilk southern biscuits.