Recipe: Fluffy Biscuits

Biscuits rising but not yet browned in the oven. YUM!

Biscuits rising but not yet browned in the oven. YUM!

I’ve tried a number of biscuit recipes in my search for THE recipe.  It took some tweaking, but I finally have a recipe worthy of being the go-to recipe whenever biscuits are on the menu.   The results have been consistently good, so if you’re wanting to take the plunge into making homemade biscuits, this is a recipe I can vouch for.

 

 

 

Fluffy Biscuit Recipe

2 cups all purpose flour

3 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sugar

5 1/2 TBS butter, cold, cut into small pieces*

approx. 1 cup buttermilk**

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Measure dry ingredients and mix them in a bowl.  Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut thecuttinginbutterlogo pieces of butter into the dry ingredients.  You should have a pebbly texture with visible chunks of butter.  Add enough buttermilk to make a dough that holds together but is not too sticky (amount of buttermilk may vary slightly depending on the flour you use as well as humidity in your kitchen).

Roll out dough to desired thickness (I prefer at least 1/2 inch thick) – use a dusting of flour if needed to keep dough from sticking to counter.  Cut out biscuits to desired size (photos show biscuits cut out with a wide-mouth Mason jar, which is about the size of store bought Grands biscuits).

Place biscuits on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 10 minutes, until biscuits have risen and are the desired shade of golden brown.

Brushing the tops of the biscuits with melted butter before and after baking makes them extra tasty.

*To get a stick of butter into small pieces, cut off the 5 1/2 TBS from the stick, unwrap it and put it on a plate standing tall.  Slice it into 3-4 slices.    Put the slices back together and turn the butter rectangle onto its side, cut another 3-4 slices long ways in the butter.  Finally, cut across the rectangular slices to get small pieces of butter.  Make sure to keep the butter cold – put it back in the refrigerator for a few minutes before adding to the dry ingredients if your kitchen is warm and the butter softened while you were cutting it up.  Use your fingers to separate the pieces of butter as you put them into the bowl.

 

You can substitute 5 1/2 TBS beef tallow or 1/3 cup vegetable shortening in place of the butter if desired.  I highly recommend brushing the biscuits with melted butter before and after baking if using beef tallow or shortening. 

 

**Don’t have buttermilk?  Put 1 TBS of white vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup and add regular milk to make 1 cup.  Mix and let it sit in the refrigerator to stay cold while you are mixing the other ingredients.  The vinegar/lemon juice will sour and thicken the milk.  You need to use soured milk/buttermilk for this recipe not only for taste, but also for the chemical reaction between the buttermilk and the baking powder & soda to get a good rise in the biscuits.  Buttermilk info link

 

DIY Plumbing: Drain Clog

If you’ve ever called a plumber, you know how expensive they are.  Not to mention that plumbing problems frequently occur at the most inopportune times – like 10 p.m. when you’re getting ready for bed.  And if you’re like us and prefer to avoid using poisonous chemicals around the house, you’re left with even fewer options when you have water backing up into your sink or bathtub.

I had to unclog a drain recently when my husband was not available and realized that there may be people who don’t know about this handy gadget to unclog drains.  It’s called a drain cleaning bladder.  It costs anywhere from around $10 to $25 and is reusable – unlike a container of toxic drain cleaning chemicals.  It’s easy to use and fast, no waiting around for chemicals to try to eat the clog and then having to wait around until it’s time to pour hot water down your drain.  While there is the possibility that it won’t work on your particular clog, there’s no guarantee that a bottle of drain cleaner will work either.  So far we’ve never had a clog that the drain cleaning bladder did not fix, but we have had failed drain cleaning attempts using chemicals.

The drain cleaning bladder is a rubber balloon that you attach to a water hose and it blasts the clog through the pipe with a jet of water.  There is a hole in the bottom of the thing and when the rubber balloon has expanded with water, filling the drain pipe until it can’t expand anymore, it then releases the water through the hole in a small, forceful stream.  You can see a diagram of how it works in the photo of the particular drain cleaning bladder package that we have.

If you don’t have a long enough water hose to reach the problem drain, then you may need a few more parts to hook up the drain cleaning bladder to a faucet.  There are adapters that will screw onto your faucet, with the other end that screws onto the water hose.  You’ll then screw the hose onto your drain cleaning bladder.  If you’re handy and have an old hose lying around, you can cut the old hose to a smaller length, add the correct hardware to the cut end so it will screw onto either your faucet or the drain bladder, and then you’ll be ready when you have a drain clog.  If you don’t have an old hose or want to make things easier, you can get small sections of water hose, usually called a Leader Hose,  and use this to attach to your faucet and drain cleaning bladder.  If you are a more advanced DIY-er, putting in strategically placed clean-out ports into your drains will make things even easier for you.

You may need to go to a real hardware or plumbing supply store to find a drain cleaning bladder or order one online.  Many of the large home improvement stores have plenty of things to make your house pretty, but we’ve found they are often lacking in basic items for true DIY home repairs. I would recommend that you get your drain cleaning bladder and any hose/faucet hookup system now, BEFORE you need it.  Clogged drains rarely happen at convenient times and you’ll save a lot of time and headache if you’re prepared for them.  drainclogbladder

Recipe: Mayonnaise

Homemade mayo going into the storage jar - look at how yellow our farm fresh egg yolks make the mayo!

Homemade mayo going into the storage jar – look at how yellow our farm fresh egg yolks make the mayo!

Homemade mayo?  You bet!  It sounds like it would be difficult but it really isn’t.  Some folks make their mayo with a blender but I do it by hand – it takes more time to dig out the blender and clean it up than it does to get out a bowl and a whisk.

This recipe is what I’ve tweaked for our preferences, which is to taste close to the Heinz brand of mayo that is made with sugar instead of corn syrup.  This is a raw egg recipe, so if you are uncomfortable with eating raw eggs, this may not be the recipe for you.  Because our eggs come from the hens in our pasture, our mayonnaise is a yellow color, unlike store-bought mayo.  The mayo is not as solid as store-bought mayo, but once it is cold, the consistency thickens up a bit.

Homemade Mayonnaise

 

2 medium to large sized egg yolks – COLD from the refrigerator for best results (if your eggs are on the smaller size, like a pullet egg, use 3 yolks)

1 c. extra light olive oil (if you use virgin/extra virgin, it has a funky flavor)

1.5 Tablespoons white vinegar

1.5 Tablespoons lemon juice

scant Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper (white pepper will make the specks hard to see for picky children)

 

Separate your egg yolks from the whites and put the yolks into your mixing bowl.  (If your yolks break while you are separating the eggs, or if the yolks break when you put them into the bowl, you may need to use the yolks for something else and start over with more eggs.  I’ve found that if the yolk breaks before you stir it and is runny, your mayo is more likely to be VERY runny and not set up.  This mayo is not as firm and solid as store-bought mayo, but the interaction between the yolk and the oil will not be correct and it will be extra-thin if the yolk is runny before you start mixing.)

 

Using a whisk (a flat whisk works better than a round one), whisk your egg yolks to mix them up.  While whisking continuously, SLOWLY pour in your olive oil in a thin stream into the yolks.  (If you have difficulty whisking continuously while pouring oil in, alternate pouring in just a TINY amount of oil and whisking it completely into the yolks before you add more oil.  Some antique recipe books recommend to add the oil in drop by drop for best results)

You should be able to see the oil and yolk mixture coming together.  It will have some texture/thickness to it – similar to a very soft-set pudding.  (If you put in 1/4 of a cup of oil and it is very runny, it most likely will continue to be too thin and I recommend you start over with new egg yolks.)

Continue to pour in the oil in a thin stream slowly, while whisking, until you have mixed in all the oil.

Add the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper, whisking thoroughly to mix it.

Can be used immediately if desired, otherwise place it into refrigerator to thicken it a little bit.

Makes approximately 1 cup of mayo.

 

To store the mayo for as long as possible, I put it into a sterilized (and cooled) jar with a lid in the refrigerator.  Filling a canning jar, or any glass jar you’ve saved, with water and putting it into the microwave until the water boils, will sterilize the jar easily and the jar can be cooling while you get out your ingredients and make your mayo.

 

 

 

 

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