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.