The Hungry Engineer

A Few of My Favorite Things

07 Jun 2008

It all started with buttermilk. I had leftover buttermilk in the refrigerator, and whenever that happens, it always makes me think of biscuits. I am an absolute freak for biscuits. A properly executed biscuit may be one of my top ten favorite things to eat. So it was settled - I’d make biscuits. Then it occurred to me that I had strawberries in the freezer, and that it really doesn’t take that long to whip up a small batch of jam. And that’s how lunch today became buttermilk biscuits and strawberry jam.

The strawberries were acquired about a month ago, when some friends invited us to go strawberry picking with them. It was a fun day and we came home with a few pounds of really delicious strawberries. They were small and sweet and (obviously) wonderfully fresh. We ate several servings of them right away, but the rest I washed, hulled, and froze till I could figure out what I wanted to do with them. Now, strawberries are easily my favorite fruit. I’m not normally one to choose favorites, especially when it comes to food, but this one is easy for me. Over the past month, every time I opened one of the freezer bags to grab a handful of strawberries for a smoothie, that heavenly strawberry smell would penetrate my skull and remind me that I really should do something with all that fruit.

After consulting several internet recipes, I decided to go with this ratio: 2 cups strawberries (straight from the freezer to the measuring cup) to 1 cup sugar to 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. The ingredients were all dumped into a small saucepan and heated over medium-low heat until the berries were thawed out. Then I went to town mashing them up till I was happy with the consistency. Then I cooked the soon-to-be-jam at medium to medium high heat until it was slightly thick and would (should!) gel properly - roughly 15-20 minutes. (It’ll look a little runnier than one might like, but it’ll tighten up as it cools off.) Since I only made enough jam for one container and since I intended to eat it right away, I didn’t fool with proper canning procedure, opting to simply dump it in a clean jar and stick it in the refrigerator to cool as much as it could while the biscuits were baking.

The biscuit recipe I use, labeled Tall and Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits is one I’ve used several times before. Again, it is from my beloved Cook’s Illustrated magazine, this time from the July/August 2004 edition. Before I stumbled on that recipe, I tried over and over again to make good biscuits, only to be rewarded with biscuit-colored hockey pucks. These, on the other hand, were buttery and fluffy. I have to admit, I was afraid to trust that I could finally produce decent biscuits, but on trying again, they were still fantastic. In fact, every time I’ve made them, they’ve been the absolute perfect thing to scratch that biscuit itch. This time, I didn’t have quite enough buttermilk, so I fudged a little and used regular 1% milk to supplement. To me, it didn’t noticeably alter the flavor. Then again, I may not have noticed the difference with all the jam I dumped on them.

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