Strawberry Shortcake with Brown Sugar Biscuits

Every year I say I am going to have strawberry shortcake for my birthday, and every year something happens and I end up having something else. BUT NOT THIS YEAR.

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36 is the year to get shit done. As long as said shit involves dessert.

Brown Sugar Biscuits
loosely adapted from Sipsey’s Biscuits, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup plain yogurt, ideally the watery bits from separated Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2/3-3/4 cup water

(The last three ingredients approximate buttermilk, and in my opinion make superior biscuits. You may substitute buttermilk.)

Preheat oven to 450. Prepare a large baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper, or by lightly greasing it.

Combine first five (dry) ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk together. Add butter pieces and combine by squeezing with your fingertips until most of the butter pieces have broken down and the mixture resembles cornmeal.

Whisk wet ingredients together in a measuring cup, using enough water to equal one cup of liquid. Add to butter mixture and combine with a spoon or fork. You may need to turn the dough with your hands a few times to finish combining the wet and dry ingredients; do not overmix.

With a large spoon, make drop biscuits about 1-inch apart on your baking sheet, shaping them with your hands if needed. Makes about 12 large biscuits.

Bake for about 15 minutes, checking after 10 and rotating the baking sheet if necessary. When golden brown, remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes or more.

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Fresh Vanilla Whipped Cream

Combine about 1 cup heavy cream with 1-2 teaspoons powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. You may beat with an electric whisk until peaks form, or shake in a mason jar until there is no more sloshing.

Strawberry Shortcake

My preferred way to serve strawberry shortcake is to slice a biscuit in half and spread it with a teaspoon (or a little more!) of lemon curd. Pile one side high with strawberry slices (this is the one time I will endorse sprinkling them with a little sugar, which should be done about 15 minutes before you prep, or when the biscuits go in the oven) and top with whipped cream.

Peanut Butter Pie

My husband is not much of a dessert person, but he makes an exception for peanut butter pie.

He first tasted it at a diner called Little Sandy’s in Deep Creek, Maryland, where he used to vacation every year with his family. When we vacationed with them in 2008, I got to taste it and finally understood. IT IS AMAZING.

I wanted to make it myself, but all the recipes call for cool whip (disgusting), scalded milk (too much work), or both. So I made my own.

I made one for Will’s birthday yesterday, and it was a huge hit. In the interest of being able to repeat the performance next year, I wrote up the recipe, which you can download as a PDF here.

Enjoy!

Tomorrow’s Menu

Pumpkin Pie: I used sweetened condensed milk and a pre-made crust and I am not sorry at all.

Apple-Cherry Pie: Granny Smiths and dried cherries UM NUM NUM. This one got slightly burnt so we will probably be forced to eat it tonight. Oh DARN.

Mashed Potatoes: very likely with horse radish and chives.

Cranberry Sauce: I couldn’t find just one orange and didn’t want a whole bag, so I made this with lemon and grapefruit juice and zest from both. Tart!

Cornbread: in lieu of dressing, since we’re not having a bird this year.

Macaroni and Cheese: I’m using my modified recipe, only I didn’t look it up so it’s further modified.

Roasted Beets: *incoherent mutterings of joy*

Brussels Sprouts: *ditto*

Steak: for Will, obviously

I am already salivating.

A little treat

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I woke up wanting pancakes. Considering the way I’ve felt all week, I took this as a good sign and decided to make pancakes. But I didn’t want just any old pancakes, so I poked around a little and found this recipe for Swedish pancakes at Posie Gets Cozy. I changed it up a bit, using whole wheat flour and my usual mix of yogurt and water for the milk. I used a little less than a cup of flour since wheat absorbs more liquid than white.

They came out lovely, with that slightly nutty flavor that wheat has, and I might have eaten all of them if I didn’t have such excellent self-control. (Okay, I had Grace shrieking for a bite, which slowed me down enough for my better sense to take back over.)

The best part was the sauce I made. I sprinkled each one with a tiny bit of sugar when it came out of the pan, and when I ate them I dipped them in a sauce that is equal parts raspberry jam and lemon juice. YUM.

Also not about art.

I feel like talking about food some more, and YOU CAN’T STOP ME. (Please don’t try. Grace is getting tooth #2 and it’s a toss-up which of us is more miserable.)

We are planning a family picnic. We’re always saying we should bring one to Vasquez Rocks but we never do because we don’t know what to pack. The last time we packed a picnic was in 2009 when we went to Will Rogers State Park, and it consisted of bread and cheese and fruit that we bought at TJ’s. Which was DELICIOUS but I want something more meal-like.

So far I’ve come up with:

  • hard-boiled eggs
  • fried chicken

Which leaves plenty of room for “Which came first?” jokes.

What are YOUR favorite picnic foods? I need ideas for veggies and salads and stuff. And DESSERT! So basically everything. But I’ve got protein covered! (Though you can leave more ideas for that, too.)

You’re My Heart’s Inspiration

(Or something like that.)

Inspired by you guys, I’ve started a series of posts on Cooking Basics over at my savings.com column, The Prudent Pantry.

Every week–or some other random frequency–I will write about some kitchen basic. I’ve listed a bunch of them, and I’m taking suggestions over there as well. Chime in, won’t you?

And if you’re local and want me to come over and show you how to cook, I can do that too. But since writing about it requires way less planning, I’m doing that first.

Me, elsewhere

While I unload four million photos from my camera, edit them, et cetera, perhaps you would be so kind as to check this stuff out:

Johnny Jump-Up, my latest knitting pattern, available for free from Petite Purls. This is a baby/toddler romper, knit in one piece from the top down with raglan sleeves and wide stripes of color. I am thinking of writing up an alternate version with buttons all the way down, including the legs, if there is interest in such a thing.

Prudent Pantry: Easy Side Salads, with recipes from two of my favorite books,

and

Prudent Pantry: In-Season Southwestern Salad, with a recipe from dear Cassie.

Huh. I thought there was more but now that’s all I can think of. Lucky you! Your assignment is quick and easy. Go, click, read. Reporting back to me is optional.

Good News/Bad News

The Good:

Last night Gracie slept in her cradle from 9:00 until 3:00, nursed, went back to sleep in the cradle until 6:00, and then slept in our bed for another three hours.

Yes, that is 12 hours in total. Yes, that is the first time any child of mine has slept that much in one night, especially with only two brief wakings.

The Bad:

I am trying to destroy our kitchen. That’s the only explanation I can think of, anyway.

As I said on Twitter: I can’t believe I write a column about cooking. Today I burned out a pot, set rubber on fire, and ruined a cake (and possibly my oven).

For the sake of 140 characters, that isn’t entirely accurate. It was a Bialetti coffee pot that I burned out, and the rubber ring in the pot that melted (not actually caught fire) (thank god).

And then I made my favorite cake ever, which I have made many times before, and this time it puffed up over the edge of the pan and ran directly down onto the cooking element and I had to turn off the oven and am near tears waiting for it to be cool enough to clean.

Did I mention that I am working today (at the yarn store) and having guests for dinner tonight? I’m not worried about being ready for company, because Will can do the remaining prep. I am worried about setting the apartment on fire when I try to roast a chicken later.

Oh man.

More good:

I am pretty sure Some Girls Are is waiting for me at the post office.

And bad:

When the hell am I going to read it?

No-Tortilla Tortilla Soup

I made tortilla soup on Thursday, only I forgot that we were out of tortilla chips so it is actually just soup. I was worried about whether it would be any good, because I didn’t really follow a recipe. Normally that isn’t a worry for me (I make shit up all the time and it usually tastes great); I think it was not being able to taste it (I am not a very good vegetarian but I can’t stand fowl so I wouldn’t have known if it was any good even if I did taste it). Whatever the reason, this soup intimidated me

Unnecessarily, as it turned out. Will cannot stop talking about how good it is. Luckily, I baked bread while I was cooking the soup, which I think made all the difference.

Tortilla (Or Not) Soup

olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
dash ground cinnamon
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups turkey or chicken stock
4 cups shredded turkey or chicken

I sauteed the onion and garlic, sprinkled with a bit of salt, in a small amount of oil for about five minutes, stirring occasionally to keep them from getting too brown. Then I added the spices and the tomatoes and cooked for another five minutes. Then I added the stock and the turkey. I used leftover roast turkey from Thanksgiving, mostly breast and a little leg, pulling off the skin and any fatty bits. I am guessing at the amount but it’s not terribly important. I simmered the soup for about 15 minutes, until I thought the flavors had all co-mingled nicely.

This would be delightful served over tortilla chips with a little cheese on top, but apparently it is also really really good with fresh-baked bread.

Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time?

Until last week, Sam had gone his entire life refusing to eat cookies. He might have eaten one when he was much smaller, but from age two onward he definitely had not touched so much as one cookie.

Imagine my surprise when he decided that COOKIES! ARE! GREAT! and ate half of MY reward cookies.

As happens with store-bought cookies, we ran out. And we were sad. And today Sam asked for a cookie and I said we could make some. He got really excited but since I have not made cookies since his boycott began, I’m not sure he really understands. He did grab his apron and put it on, though he immediately took it back off.

I just can’t wait until he sees that we made cookies.