Monday, December 5, 2011

More than a brand, a Southern institution!

I come from line of Southern cooks. Butter and bacon grease are revered goods, as are cured meats, pies, and watermelon rind pickles.Maybe this is why I have a cholesterol problem.

I am, I think, fairly accomplished at a good many Southern foods. See above list of revered goods, and throw in fritters and orange cake for good measure. What I am not particularly skilled in is biscuit baking. Mine could replace hockey pucks, pretty much without fail. Still, I'm nothing if not persistent; in the face of failure I refuse to quit. (This is a joke, as typically if I'm not good at something the first time, I give up. See: paper arts, using power tools, and driving a stick shift)

Last night I threw together a beef stew. I forgot to throw in parsnips, so it was mostly just beef and onions in gravy.  I had one carrot in the fridge, and no potatoes. In all honesty, it was pretty lame. It did have one saving grace: biscuits and gravy.

I unearthed a small package of self rising flour from the pantry cupboard, read the printed information on the sac, and figured there was no way my biscuits would turn out as well as they promised they would. Still, I'm nothing if not a sap for marketing, and I fell hard for their persuasive language: Protein is the enemy of light, high-rising delicate baking!  Plus, it was self rising, so I wouldn't have to dirty a measuring spoon.
White Lily Flour: a Southern Institution. Made from soft winter wheat, with a lower protein and gluten content than other flours.

I dutifully followed the directions, except I substituted butter for shortening because frankly I never use shortening. I deviated slightly yet again, and made drop biscuits instead of rolled biscuits because I was also in the middle of making pickles and the counters were crowded. And then I went hog wild and plopped the biscuits into my cast iron skillet instead of a cookie sheet. The audacity!

Sweet readers, I am not lying when I say my dinner consisted of four biscuits, some onions, and beef gravy.  I swooned. Those Southern cooks are right, that flour really did make a difference. 

An interesting NYTimes article on the flour.

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