A Good Biscuit!

by Linda Hull

What brings a family together? Food! Joining loved ones around the table is a heartfelt blessing because families are God’s gift to mankind. A delicious meal is worthy of praise, for it is truly a gift of love to the family. I should know because my Grandmama was one of the best cooks in the world, notably for her buttermilk biscuits!

“Helping” Grandmama in the kitchen was a real joy back in those little girl days! Back then, just about everything was made from scratch. Cooking took more time and effort than it does in today’s world. It also provided many opportunities for talking about life.

It was a fact of life that Granddaddy had to have his biscuits every night at dinner. So making biscuits was the last menu item to make before everyone was called to dinner. That’s because Granddaddy liked his hot, with lots of butter and strawberry jam!

While the rest of the meal simmered on the old stove, Grandmama would gather her ingredients. The flour was kept loose in a pullout flour bin in what was probably an old Hoosier type cabinet, a novelty in today’s kitchen. Next she would measure out all her ingredients into the sifter. The flour, baking powder, and salt were shaken together as she turned the crank. Next she scooped out the shortening and placed it in the bowl with the dry ingredients.

Once the ingredients were assembled, she took a table fork and pressed that shortening into the flour mixture until it resembled coarse meal. Next came the buttermilk with a little cup for me to drink. Then she would scrape the mixture all up into a ball of dough, kneading it for just a little bit. Not too much or the biscuits would be tough.

After rubbing a bit of flour onto her rolling pin, she rolled that dough out to about a half inch thick. Each biscuit was cut from the dough with her biscuit cutter and placed on the cookie sheet to bake. My little bit of dough was added to the cookie sheet too, a testimony to her diligence in teaching me, and my desire to be just like Grandmama.

You know, you can learn a lot about God and His ways when you make biscuits. When I think about Grandmama’s hot biscuits, I think about Luke 6:38 (KJV): “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Biscuit making is a lot like life. You see, God knows we women are givers by nature and by design, but in order to be useful to Him, He has some work to do in our hearts. God sees us as that lump of dough that needs to be worked to make a good biscuit! He gives us everything we need to become the person He wants us to be, including the power of the Holy Spirit and His Word. He presses us down a bit to bring us into conformity with His Word. Then he shakes us up so we learn to depend on Him. He shapes us by our life experiences into women who are useful in furthering His Kingdom. He teaches us that what we give always comes back to us with more besides. When life brings discouragement, just remember God is making you into a good biscuit!

 

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Following is my biscuit recipe roughly based on Grandmama’s old recipe.  I’ve made adjustments like using self-rising flour and using the Crisco brand shortening.

 

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

 

2 cups sifted self-rising flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons Crisco shortening

2/3 to 3/4 cup buttermilk

 

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut shortening into flour mixture with fork until it resembles coarse meal. Add liquid gradually, stirring with the fork, until the mixture sticks together. Turn out on a lightly floured clean surface. Knead gently for about 1/2 minute until it feels elastic. Flour the rolling pin. Roll out dough to 1/2″ thick. Cut dough into biscuit shapes with a biscuit cutter or a floured beverage glass. Place on un-greased baking sheet in very hot oven (450 degrees F) for 12-15 minutes.  Biscuits should be lightly browned. Serve immediately with butter and jam. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen depending on the size of the cutter.  

 

Bibliography

 

“Baking Powder Biscuits.” American-International Encyclopedic Cookbook. Thomas Y. Crowell Company. Copyright 1972 by Homemakers Research Institute.

 

Recipe For Success: Do You Have All The Ingredients You Need?

beautiful-girlWhen we’re little kids, our parents and the world in general do their best to make the world seem like it is pure and perfect. They encourage us to make friends. They persuade us to play sport, go out in the fresh air and develop our interests. They’ll discipline us if we’re naughty, sure. But even when they do that, they’ll give us a hug when we apologize. They’ll make the world feel okay again.

It’s usually once we break into our teens that they start handing down home truths, and that can be a rude awakening. Again, it’s done from a place of love and for the right reasons. But from a world that is all pink, princesses and perfection, a more realistic worldview can be a shock.

Probably most of us have had the following exchange with a parent or other significant adult. It comes when we have just been told we can’t do something we want to do – or have to do something we don’t want to.

You: But that’s not fair!

Them: Life’s not fair. That’s the way it is.

The first time you hear that it seems like a shock. Coming from someone who usually goes out of their way to make things pleasant for you, it is a shock. But then again, it is true. The world is not a fair place. Said like that, it seems terrible, doesn’t it? But when you look at the world, you know it’s true.

Life isn’t fair. Left to its own devices, the world will let you down from time to time. It can be something as minor as rain on the day you’d planned a pool party, or much more severe than that. If you stop and ask yourself “What did I do to deserve this?” you won’t get an answer.

So that’s the bad news. We all know it by now as well – some people are blessed with great fortune and success despite not being “good” people. Others work every hour God sends, do charitable work outside of their usual hours, and end up penniless.

What’s the good news? Well, even if sometimes you’re going to be unlucky, there is a sense in which you can make your own luck. Don’t get overexcited! I’m not going to tell you it can be done with ingredients that are in your kitchen right now. But you can make the world a bit more fair if you’re ready to take it on.

Step 1: Take A Pinch Of Persistence

From time to time, we all try something and fail. It could be an audition for a school play, a job interview, or a try out for a sports team. It’s frustrating, but it isn’t the end of the world. Each and every one of your favorite actors has had a failed audition. Everyone who has had success has also failed, often dozens of times in their life.

Let your motto be “fail better.” Not everything is going to come off the first time, or second. But if you get closer every time, you can at least see your path to success and that makes a big difference. It doesn’t mean you can’t be annoyed or disappointed when something doesn’t go right. It does mean not wallowing, and gathering yourself together to get it right next time.

Step 2: Add A Drop Of Self-Belief

This world is not simple enough to be divided into two groups of anything. People are complicated. However, you probably know some people who always seem to have bad things happen to them, and others who always seem lucky. Now, the reality is not that the world is out to mess with the first group. It’s also not the case that the world is set up for the benefit of the second.

We know, also, that some people inherit advantages due to having wealthy families. This inevitably means they will have more opportunities in life. Well, as we already know, life is unfair. But if you take that group out of the mix, there are still some people who seem to get what they want more than others. Why is this?

In the main, it’s because they put themselves out there to get it. If someone is unlucky a few times, it’s natural that they’ll be more reluctant to do this. So things will happen to them, rather than them making things happen.

The people who put themselves out there more often will make more things happen. So even if you’ve had bad luck more times than not, it’s important to keep your self-belief. Sports stars say that they miss 100% of the shots they don’t take. Make this another motto.

Step #3: Stir In A Dash Of Curiosity

Let’s go back to the earlier statement made by the responsible adult for a moment.

“Life’s not fair. That’s the way it is.”

Okay, but why? Some things you can’t change, we all know that. But what falls under that heading, and what could you potentially do to make things different? Have a questioning approach to life, and you could make a much bigger difference than you imagined. This is one of the fundamental Law Of Attraction Manifestation Techniques. Always be prepared to question.

So say, for example, that you have been told you won’t be chosen for a team, a play, or a job. It’s up to you to find out why. Pose the question, but not in a nasty way. For example:

“Coach, I want to know why I’m not on the team. Lisa plays the same position I play, and I scored more goals than her, so why is she on the team?”

Is a bad way to put the question. A better way would be to ask:

“Coach, may I ask why I’ve not been picked? What do I need to do to get picked next time?”.

In the latter example, you haven’t just completely buried Lisa. You’ve asked for constructive criticism. You’ve shown you’re ready to make changes, and that you still want to be part of the team. Most importantly, you haven’t just accepted a rejection. Life might not be fair, but sometimes you can remind it to be less of a pill.

Step #4: Fold In A Sense Of Justice

Being mature enough to accept that life can do you wrong sometimes means you won’t get hung up on bad luck. But there is always a difference between bad luck and someone actively doing wrong to you.

For example, if someone in your life is talking about you behind your back, or someone you were dating has cheated on you, that’s not bad luck. It’s not life doing you wrong; it’s them. And for all the excuses they are willing to offer, they owe you more than an apology.

Life sometimes lets you down, because not everybody can get what they want at once. But someone who chooses to do that is not someone who deserves and respects you.

You can give second chances, if what they have done is forgivable. But you should only do so on the understanding that you don’t give third chances, and you’re being the bigger person.

Step #5. Bake It All Together In A…

I was going to say “an oven of patience,” but that’s just awful. That’s an analogy too far. You do need to have a strong sense of tolerance, though, to deal with the trials life will throw your way. If you want life to work out for you, you do need to set high standards for yourself. You also need to accept that not everyone will have those same standards.

Unless you’re some superhero, you will not be able to go through life without relying on other people to do their bit. It may be individuals or businesses, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes, you can be let down.

This is different from someone choosing to do wrong to you. It may not be much less frustrating for knowing that, but it is still important to bear in mind. The customer service operator on the phone is not the former BFF who spread your secrets across Facebook.

The way you deal with others is important as it has an effect on how you are treated in return. More importantly than that, though, you need to separate the situations that merit anger from the ones that need negotiation. As the old saying goes: You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

(What the person who came up with that statement wanted with all those flies, I don’t know. Also, it’s not actually true.)

So life may not be fair, exactly, but you can make it more so if you know how. The effort you put in will be reflected in the results you get, and you can’t ever make it 100% fair. But there are two options available to you when things don’t go your way. Sit and complain about it, or make a change. Which do you prefer?

Heart Healthy All the Time

Heart Healthy All the Time

 

tomatoFebruary is Heart Health month, but this is really something to think about every month! A wonderful heart healthy food is the tomato. Here are some interesting tomato facts:

  • Tomatoes contain large amounts of vitamin C, providing 40 percent of your daily value. They also contain a healthy portion of your daily value of vitamin A, potassium and iron.
  • Recent studies conducted by Harvard researchers show that women with the highest intake of tomato-based foods, rich sources of the antioxidant lycopene, had a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease compared to women with low intake of those foods.
  • Freshly canned and processed tomatoes, like Dei Fratelli’s, have higher lycopene content than garden tomatoes and don’t lose nutritional value during processing.
  • Research shows that lycopene acts as an antioxidant and can help people stay active even in old age.

So go eat some tomatoes! If your family has a garden, grow some tomatoes this summer and pick them fresh to enjoy. To help explore the possibilities with tomatoes, we found a great recipe from Dei Fratelli. Dei Fratelli is an all natural, gluten-free tomato product company producing pasta sauces, salsas, pizza sauces and more (I buy their sauces and they are nothing short of amazing!).

Tomato Basil Bruschetta

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Cups Dei Fratelli Petite Diced Tomatoes, drained (approx. 1/2 of a 28 oz can)
8 oz Fresh mozzarella, sliced or soft goat cheese
Basil leaves for garnish, chopped
Bruschetta topping
3 Tbsp Fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves Fresh garlic
2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
Rusks/Bread
1 loaf Ciabatta bread, sliced 1/2 in thick

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush slices of bread with olive oil and rub with cloves of garlic. Place on sheet tray and place in the oven for approx. 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove bread from oven to cool. Combine all of the ingredients for bruschetta topping in a bowl. Mix gently. On cooled bread, place sliced mozzarella or spread on goat cheese. Add a spoon full of bruschetta topping. Garnish with chopped basil.

Serves 4-6

Love at First Bite Red Velvet Cake

Love at First Bite Red Velvet Cake

From Gina Meyer’s Cookbook, “Love at First Bite, The Unofficial Twilight Cookbook”

Bake a delicious cake for your friends….they are sure to get fired up over this treat!

4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 ounce liquid red food coloring
3/4 cup water
1 yellow cake mix, with pudding in the mix
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter
4 tablespoons buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Directions: Preheat oven to 325°. In a large bowl, mix cocoa powder,
red food coloring, and part of the water to form a paste. Next, add
all of the other ingredients except the white vinegar. Blend for 2 1/2
to 3 minutes with a mixer on medium speed. Then add the vinegar and
mix with a spatula. Pour the batter into a bunt or round cake pan, and
bake for approximately 35 minutes. This recipe can be made into
cupcakes as well.

Adorn each cupcake or the entire Red Velvet Cake with various
miniature die-cast Cullen cars, such as Carlisle’s Mercedes S55 AMG,
Rosalie’s red BMW M3, Edward’s silver Volvo S60R, Alice’s yellow
Porsche 911 Turbo, or Emmett’s Jeep Wrangler. A replica of Bella’s red
Chevy pickup truck could also be added.