Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Contrarian In Me - What Works & Doesn't Work

There's no doubt about it, I am a foodie, have been one since the day I baked my first scratch cake. How amazing the chemistry that takes raw ingredients, the alchemy of milk, eggs, extracts, add a little heat and voila, it is something different. The "icing" on that cake, and the pun is intended, is to watch with singular pleasure the absolute joy that emanates around the dining table when those metamorphosed ingredients are devoured by appreciative guests! Yes, I am hooked! As much as my kitchen baptism at the ripe old age of 7 revolved around baking, I am neither a baker, nor a pastry maven. I am a full fledged, die hard recipe kitchen cook. I have my repetoire of scratch cakes, cookies, pies and quick breads, but my metier is not baking. Baking has all these rules, and then there are those bakers (my mother was one) who will tell you, "you'll know it when you see it!" See what? My mom and her mom baked so many rolls, loaves of bread, pies, cakes, including that all so challenging biscuit that their instructions were almost inscrutable, I think it was genetic. Clearly my DNA didn't get that link. My taste and criteria for baked goods is a different story. I haven't had a truly memorable biscuit since my Aunt Mattie died. How does one make a biscuit that melts in your mouth and doesn't stick to the roof of your mouth? LARD, in a word... home rendered, pure as the driven snow, and no hydrogentated shortenings and no butter that softens at room temperature. No siree, the secret is LARD. As well as lard works in biscuits and pie crust, it doesn't do so well in my arteries. You bakers have your work cut out for you!

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