Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Rant (with a Side of Cream Biscuits)


Even though I come from Florida, the land south of the South, when I was a child no self respecting cook would be without a box of Bisquick. As far as I knew, that was where biscuits came from, period. Home cooks (mostly moms in those days) had been freed from the enslavement of preparing food "from scratch" and convenience products, frozen dinners and instant breakfast (and orange juice!) were all the rage. I didn't know food came from another source that wasn't a can.

Having knocked out the basic biscuits from Baking From My Home to Yours just before my morning shower, I can scarcely understand the appeal of "instant" biscuit mix. How much more instant can it be compared to measuring out flour, salt, baking powder, butter and milk? We all fooled ourselves back then by saying things tasted just as good as homemade, but does any kid long for their mom's frozen waffles?

When I saw that Jennifer of Cooking for Comfort had selected these biscuits for Tuesdays with Dorie, I didn't intend to write a screed about convenience foods, but I can't help myself. As a society, the US has an appalling rate of obesity among children (and adults) and convenience foods aren't helping us. For all the bad press butter got even a few years ago, it turns out it's healthier for us than margarine (shudder) or that stuff in the tub. Eggs, shunned because they have cholesterol, aren't bad for us at all, and we're now told we can include them in a healthy diet. It turns out that food, the real stuff that we buy and cook ourselves, is good for us, even when it contains things we once thought were bad for us. That's because our bodies seem to find it easier to process things that are food rather than things born in a chemistry lab.

Convenience foods frequently contain ingredients that aren't nutritive, but they give the products the shelf life of plutonium. If I pull some lettuce out of the fridge that got neglected and turned brown and icky, I expect that. When I let some engineered dreck sit on the shelf for two years, then I open it and it tastes just as it would have two years earlier, that's a little scary.

I know people are busy, I get that. I am too, in fact I work two jobs myself, one of which is VERY full time. I'd rather make my own convenience foods and freeze them than buy engineered anything, so when I made these biscuits (which were great, I may have forgotten to mention that) I put a bunch in the freezer. One day when we're having chili or soup or an omelette for breakfast, I'll pull a few out of the freezer and bake them fresh. The house will smell amazing, they'll taste amazing, and all will be good in our world.

Now that's a convenience food.

12 comments:

Nicole said...

Lovely biscuits. My diet is not great but I've really tried to work with real ingredients.

Tracey said...

Your biscuits look fantastic Leslie - look at all of those layers!

jillbert said...

It's so quick to make certain things like muffins and quick breads, and, as you say, biscuits. And cheaper! Plus I feel so much better about eating home-baked treats, even if they're not health food.

Torviewtoronto said...

fabulous looking biscuits

TeaLady said...

HEAR! HEAR!! Yep, my mom was heavy into convenience as were most of our moms. And until recently, gasp, so was I. Now I don't even buy any box mixes. As much from scratch as possible.

Good to rant. But NOT as good as these biscuits.

Flourchild said...

I love the layers of your biscuits! Im glad you enjoyed this recipe!

Tia said...

you did an amazing job. both with your writing and your biscuits. they rose so high and are beautifully shaped.

Jessica said...

Such lovely biscuits - and I agree with your rant! It's really not much more difficult to make biscuits from scratch. Although my grandmother was known for her amazing southern biscuits...which she made with Crisco.

My husband makes the BEST pancakes from Bisquick (he adapts the recipe slightly). We've tried to replicate them from scratch and other mixes, but no luck - although I have talked him into using the trans-fat free Bisquick. But for biscuits, I'm sticking with scratch!

Cindy said...

Love, love love this post! So true. I don't understand why anyone would buy a brownie mix. I can make a delicious brownie, from scratch in minutes.
"I trust cows more than chemisits".
Have a great day.
I think I will make a batch of yummy scones and put the dough in the freezer. Ready to be enjoyed at a moments notice.

Di said...

Gorgeous biscuits, Leslie! I totally get your rant--I'm so happy that I'm showing my girls that we can make so many things from scratch rather than relying on mixes and other stuff.

Jennifer said...

Love the look of your biscuits!

Thank you for baking along with me this week!

Nancy/n.o.e said...

But how do you really feel, Leslie? I couldn't agree more: biscuits are about the fastest things to whip up; you pull out about the same number of things with a mix (and you avoid all the additives). Your biscuits look amazing too.