Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Struggle Bathed in Buttermilk

When I arrived home from college, world weary, my hands heavy with the awesome and powerful weight of my diploma, I did what all good students, or former students as the case may be, tend to do upon returning to their childhood havens. I looked in the fridge. By passing the fat free Greek yogurt and the Vietnamese leftovers I went to the back of the cooling device, where the good mixers usually hide. Once there, I made a startling discovery. Like an archaeologist delving deep into a sandy excavation site I marveled at my findings. Lurking, like a lone ranger in a world of juices, was a carton of buttermilk. Now, in other kitchens, in other refrigerators, perhaps this might be a normal occurrence. But in my household, well, I mean, what the hell are you really supposed to do with buttermilk, anyway? If you aren't running a soul-food diner or living home on the range, when exactly would buttermilk be something that you would have an everyday usage for? If there are people who go through cartons of buttermilk like pairs of underwear, well, I certainly haven't met them. When I asked my mother about this new object in our larder, as it were, she waved her hands vaguely in the air and said she didn't know. I can only conclude therefore that this buttermilk magically appeared in our lives and demanded to be used, and used well. So here we were, all buttermilked up and nothing to do.

Now, given my tragic illness, my mother let me off the hook for using said buttermilk for a few days. God knows the woman didn't want me cooking anything for fear I would infect the whole household. And besides, I was on an all soup diet and the idea of anything that didn't come hot and chicken scented really appalled me. But now, in my recovered and rejuvenated state, my mother expected me to step up and deal with the magical appearing buttermilk in an appropriate manner.

As it has been established that I don't do a whole hell of a lot with my time none of you need be surprised that I spent last evening watching season four of The Office on netflix.com and furiously searching for recipes including or featuring buttermilk. My biggest hit included several biscuit recipes, three of which I tried this evening. In my floral a-line skirt and apron, hair up in some bizarre little bun, I looked like some odd Donna Reed/June Clever clone had either of those ladies been a brunette or had a normal waistline. A survey of distinguished palates, that is, myself, my parents, and whatever our kittens could steal, decided that the cheddar-scallion biscuit recipe was the best. Here it is, with my own alterations:

2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
4 scallions, chopped
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (the magically appearing type is preferred)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut up butter into small pieces and blend with dry mixture using your hands until the mixture looks like a coarse meal. Add cheddar and scallions and mix well, then add buttermilk. Mixture will be slightly sticky. Shape dough into balls or just drop large spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Enjoy. Now what to do with the remaining buttermilk...

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