Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September is National Biscuit Month: Build A Better Biscuit!

       Yes, I know there are other, more pressing matters going on in this crazy, upside down world in which we live, BUT...I simply had to pause for the cause: September is National Biscuit Month, and have I got a biscuit for you!

Recently, advised by my doctor to lower my cholesterol, I began investigating biscuit making with Earth Balance, a vegan product with no cholesterol made with healthy ingredients. In fact, I made a Bagel, Lox, and Egg Strata last week-end with Earth Balance, Egg Beaters, and Almond Milk and it was just as fabulous as when using the artery clogging ingredients. We use it in our house now  (having made the switch from butter after receiving the cold hard facts from doc.) It's more expensive than butter, but I always say, "I'd rather pay the farmer than the doctor," if you know what I mean. Earth Balance is delicious and tastes like butter. We also switched from Half and Half to a coconut milk product. No more red meat, either. And I walk at least 1 mile a day. But, I digress.

For the sake of time, I admit, I adapted the below recipe from a baker who adapted it from Alton Brown. But as an accomplished biscuit maker...and eater, this recipe works. The lemon juice gives it that extra buttermilk 'tang' one expects from a biscuit. And feel free to slather this mini-work-of-art with Earth Balance. Scrumptious! And one more thing: set the dry ingredients mixed with "butter" to that coarse pea-like consistency back in the 'fridge' for about 15 minutes. This hardens the 'butter' which softened when manipulated into the flour mixture by hot hands.

So here it is. I will use Earth Balance forevermore, in all (most of :) my baked goods. I feel better physically and mentally knowing I'm helping myself stay healthy. Not "earth-shaking," but Earth Balance. Enjoy!

Beauties! So you know what to expect:
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 Tbsp non-dairy, unsalted butter (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup unsweetened PLAIN almond milk + 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Add cold butter and use fingers or a pastry cutter to combine the two until only small pieces remain and it looks like sand. Work quickly so the butter doesn’t get too warm.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon, stir gently while pouring in the almond milk mixture 1/4 cup at a time. You may not need all of it. Stir until just slightly combined – it will be sticky.
  5. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, dust the top with a bit of flour and then very gently turn the dough over on itself 5-6 times – hardly kneading.
  6. Form into a 1-inch thick disc, handling as little as possible.
  7. Use a 1-inch thick dough cutter or a similar-shape object with sharp edges (such as a cocktail shaker) and push straight down through the dough, then slightly twist. Repeat and place biscuits on a baking sheet in two rows, making sure they just touch – this will help them rise uniformly. Gently reform the dough and cut out one or two more biscuits – you should have 7-8.
  8. Next brush the tops with a bit more of melted non-dairy butter and gently press a small divot in the center using two fingers. This will also help them rise evenly, so the middle won’t form a dome.
  9. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until fluffy and slightly golden brown. Serve immediately. Let remaining biscuits cool completely before storing them in an airtight container or bag.



Monday, July 7, 2014

There's No Berry Like A Blueberry...Pudding, (that is)

Every year about this time, we follow the trails of Tennessee to our summer home in the mountains of North Carolina. While here, I try not to be obnoxious about our blueberries. But they are prolific. It occurs to me, however, while looking out the kitchen window, that I have not picked any berries in a couple of days. Man o' man! Wow! And no mosquito bites, either! It's a cool 70 degrees according the tree thermometer. I simply must find a home for these cerulean morsels.
As a member of the Fort Nashborough Daughters of the American Revolution, I have become fascinated with Colonial recipes and methods of cookery. In fact, I love the word "cookery."
Desiring a delicious uniqueness for my 'yield,' I discovered this recipe for Colonial Blueberry Pudding. I may need a few more berries to complete my dish, but, like any true musician, I'm gonna keep on pickin.'
Originally, this dish was made with whortleberries, also called bilberries, which are the blackish fruit of a small European shrub. They're related to blueberries and huckleberries. I thought I'd improvise and use our fresh blueberries.
Although it's called a pudding, it's more like a moist coffeecake. If you're wondering why the recipe doesn't call for baking powder or baking soda, well-beaten egg whites provide the leavening for the dish.
This Colonial dessert can be baked in a covered, cast-iron skillet in the hearth or simply baked in your home oven (using a cast-iron skillet, too, if you like.)
Note: Fairy Butter is spread over the top of wedge-shaped slices of the pudding.
From The Shirley Plantation Collection (1660-1900)
You'll need:
1 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 3/4 cups sifted flour
4 cups blueberries, coarsely mashed
Fairy Butter (see recipe below)
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Beat egg yolks in separate bowl that's clean and cool. When yolks are lightened in color, gradually add them to the creamed mixture, blending well as you do it.
Reserve 1/4 cup of flour and add remainder to creamed mixture, blending well.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Gently fold into mixture.
Combine remaining 1/4 cup flour with berries that have been lightly crushed. Fold into batter.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour batter into 12-cup, well-greased Bundt pan or divide batter in half and bake in two greased 8-inch pie plates. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes.
*You can serve the pudding with Fairy Butter, a recipe from Hannah Glasse, an Englishwoman who wrote "The Art of Cooking" in 1747. Hannah Glasse's book of cookery is a 'find' for those of us who enjoy the unique, fine art of Colonial cooking and baking.
2 yolks from hard-boiled eggs, mashed as for deviled eggs
2 tsps. orange flower water or orange-flavored liqueur
1 to 2 Tbsps. confectioners' sugar or to taste
4 Tbsps. of softened butter
Shell the eggs. Discard the whites or reserve for another use. Mash the yolks and mix them with orange flower water and sugar for a smooth paste. Then blend in butter until smooth. Force mixture through a fine sieve for really smooth texture. Chill. Serve with slices of the pudding.
Enjoy this delicious tradition... along the Trails of Tennessee.


A Peachy Way to Spend the Day

A perfectly peachy way to spend the day in N.C. My yield from that peck of birthday fruit we picked at Farmer's Market in Asheville. Six golden, glorious, globes! And they are truly delicious. We be jammin' now  :)


Happy Birthday from Asheville, North Carolina!

July 1st was a beautiful day for a birthday... mine!
 Lunch at the very cool Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, N.C., a stop at Farmer's Market for fresh peaches for jam I'll enjoying making. Our yearly dinner at the Jarrett House in Dillsboro. Saving the best for last, Bruce wrote a classical piece for me "Lynne's Largo." We savored his song on our deck back in Sylva at twilight.  I'm grateful for a full, rich b-day!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Abraham Louis DeMoss, Founder of Bellevue, Tennessee Grave Marking Ceremony

Along the trails of Tennessee today, in Bellevue, The Tennessee Sons of the American Revolution held a ceremony at the Old DeMoss Cemetery marking the grave of it's founder, Abraham Louis DeMoss. The TSAR Color Guard presented a three - volley musket salute, author/historian, Ridley Wills, gave a wonderful account of the DeMoss family and even held a Justice of the Peace book by Judge John Haywood - owned by Louis DeMoss, circa 1811. It was fitting salute to a solid patriot on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Bruce and I sang a song we wrote with Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver "Our Patriot Dream." We were honored to be a part. Bruce is playing his father's mandolin.
Playing "Our Patriot Dream"
With Ridley Wills and Nina Tackett


Awards Ceremony at Nolensville Elementary School

     Along the trails of Tennessee, on a clear sky day, May 15th, I presented The Declaration of Independence to Stanley Barnes, the third grader who won State and S.E. Division ( AL., FL., GA, MS., S.C., N.C., and TN.) in the Junior American Citizens Short Story Contest for his rendering of My Day with Ben Franklin. Stanley and his mother, Andrea, had already received the Certificate of Award(s) in a presentation at our monthly Fort Nashborough luncheon, May 8th. The Declaration of Independence was something extra to be presented again.
My friend, and Stanley's teacher, Jane Lauer (pictured below), is a good example of  a teacher who truly cares about her students. Teaching, to Jane Lauer, is more than just a J-O-B. It was a pleasure to be able to encourage the 18 other students in Mrs. Lauer's classroom after the school assembly by presenting each of them with a Junior American Citizen Certificate of Award for writing exceptional stories. All the children show amazing promise and imagination. It was a joy-filled event!
Nolensville Elementary School Principal, Paula Waits, reviewing Stanley's awards.
Andrea Barnes, Stanley Barnes, and me at our Fort Nashborough luncheon The University Club at Vanderbilt University, May 8th.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Springtime in Tennessee!


     The lines from the poem In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb certainly ring true over hill and dale in Tennessee.  

April, laying aside the pollen which so easily besets us, is beginning to show signs of life; a patchwork quilt of colors spread upon our once shivering state. S'wonderful! I am grateful for every robin, redbud, and leaves and blades in shades of green. I know Our Creator, God, reveals Himself through newness of life! S'marvelous... and so like the Lamb...that He should care for me!
All of this...and more in store along the Trails of Tennessee...!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tennessee Society Daughters of the American Revolution (TSDAR) George Washington Birthday Celebration Luncheon

     Middle Tennessee is ever so slowly, with slightly clenched fists, sleepily brushing snowflakes from her eyes as she yawns and stretches and awakens from her long, winter nap. Thus, February 22nd was the picture perfect day to celebrate George Washington's 282nd birthday in a luncheon with Tennessee Society Daughters of the American Revolution (TSDAR) at Hillwood Country Club in West Nashville.

     As a proud Daughter and member of The Fort Nashborough Chapter, at the invitation of our Tennessee State Regent, Susan Thomas, it was a pleasure and privilege to be invited to share my National Society DAR award-winning song, " Be Like Abigail (Ode to Abigail Smith Adams)" with almost 500 hundred Daughters from the Cumberland District.


    While in the mountains of North Carolina over the summer I was able to read several books: George Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow, 1776 by David McCullough (second read), and John Adams by David McCullough. Although I prefer David McCullough's writing style to Ron Chernow's, I found Mr. Chernow's book on Washington informative and well-researched (of course.) I came to admire George Washington's sense of destiny as he set forth working to become the husband, soldier, and man of integrity/leader of our fledgling country.

     In my research, I discovered George Washington's wife, Martha (see my earlier blog entry on Martha Dandridge Custis Washington), was kind and quite gracious to John and Abigail Adams - the first "power couple" to live in The White House (1800's.)

              I believe everyone enjoyed singing along with the chorus of "Be Like Abigail."
Although we do not have a photograph, I led the Daughters in singing The National Anthem, accompanied by my handsome husband and classical guitar virtuoso, Bruce Patterson, who arranged the song (and other partriotic pieces) for classical guitar.
At the risk of being redundant, I simply must show an up-close photograph of my brand-new, custom- made, patriotic guitar strap. I told them I needed it by February 22. Check out www.coolstraps.com
I love my new strap!
                                     Happy Birthday, President George Washington!
                                       We salute you along the Trails of Tennessee!