Made | Buttermilk biscuits are my favorite

One of the main things I miss about living in the South is the food. Let's be honest. In Massachusetts, when you go to a restaurant that serves southern food, it's always glammed up and expensive. You can't get chicken and waffles without some kind of herbs in the syrup. Still, I can't keep myself from ordering biscuits & gravy in search of a little taste of home. It seems, however, that I'll just have to learn how to make them myself; this search can get expensive. To be fair, I've had some amazing biscuits at Sweet Cheeks in Fenway and the huge biscuit at Island Creek Oyster House in Kenmore blew my mind. I still dream about that thing.

I'll be making this biscuits & gravy recipe when we get back from the holidays. Until then, this is the recipe I used for these babies. They were the closest I've come to actual biscuits from scratch, and it seems the trick is handling the dough as little as possible.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits
From Food.com

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
1 cup buttermilk (approx)

1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal.
3.  If using a food processor, just pulse a few times until this consistency is achieved.
4. Add the buttermilk and mix JUST until combined.
5. If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk. It should be very wet. Turn the dough out onto a floured board.
6. Gently, gently PAT (don't use a rolling pin) the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick. Fold the dough about 5 times, gently press the dough down to a 1 inch thick. Use a round cutter to cut into rounds.
7. You can gently knead the scraps together and make a few more, but they will not be anywhere near as good as the first ones.
8. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet- if you like soft sides, put them touching each other. If you like"crusty" sides, put them about 1 inch apart- these will not rise as high as the biscuits put close together.
9. Bake for about 10-12 minutes- the biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom. Do not overbake.

Enjoy with honey or eggs or all by themselves with a pat of butter. 


Photos | Light.

I love those moments when I walk into a room and have to grab my camera to capture something as simple and fleeting as a pattern of light. 


Made | DIY Kitchen Towels

You know that show Semihomemade with Sandra Lee? It's on the Food network. She shares recipes that involve some premade aspects and adds her own flare to them. While I love making things from scratch, I also appreciate when I can do only the fun part. Take these towels: finding the fabric and sewing the edges would have been extra work that wouldn't have been as necessary. So I bought flour sack kitchen towels at Target, carved a stamp in a design I knew Meg would like, and stamped away. I used some stencils to put kitchen-appropriate words on them as well. 


Made | Fingerless gloves

About a month ago, I bought a pattern on Etsy for fingerless gloves. Halfway through making the first glove, I realized that I didn't really like the pattern after all. The gloves would be long, which is cute but a little impractical when wearing a coat and multiple layers. So I went off book (or off PDF, rather) and shortened them up a bit. The best part about the pattern, however, was learning how to make that ribbed pattern with crochet stitches. I love that ribbed detail the most about knitted things, and always lamented being better at crochet than knitting, but now I've found a middle ground.

Any new crochet tips you've learned lately?


Made | Clay earrings.

I think I may have taken this whole handmade holiday thing a little too far. It started with the quilt for my mom and just sort of spiraled into a mess of fleece blankets, zippered bags, and rubber earrings. So when I saw this clay earring DIY at Lovely Indeed, I knew I had to add it to the mix. 

I got some oven bake clay, earring studs, and acrylic paint at JoAnn's for a total of about $6. The amount of gifts you can get from that $6 is pretty amazing. I've had a lot of fun coming up with all kinds of designs for these babies. 
And I made some festive ones for myself...
And while we're talking about earrings, these are the ones Meg gave me for Christmas this morning. 


Made | Every cookie ever.

I'm not usually the competitive type. My friend Cyndi, she's the type to take a holiday baked goods competition to the next level, but me, I'm the annoying girl saying genuinely from the sidelines, "Wasn't that just fun?!" However, I decided to scrap that stereotype and get serious about my office's cookie swap this year.

It wasn't a competition last year, and I made these dark chocolate pomegranate cookies. They were good and festive, but I couldn't do a repeat, so I was back at square one. Joy the Baker's red velvet black & white cookies caught my eye. They were my first test batch, and they were good. They were like little personal sized cakes for lovers of cream cheese, vanilla, chocolate, and everything in between. But they demanded I use every mixing bowl we own and that I return to the dollar store to buy about $5 worth of red food coloring. Considering I was planning to make these on a Tuesday night after a full day of work and before a full day of work, I had no interest in putting that much effort into this competition. Onto plan b...   
While perusing blogs, I came across rice crispy treat chocolate chip cookies, which I can't find the original recipe for now (this one's fairly similar). I used peppermint marshmallows thinking, "I'm so clever!" Then the marshmallows turned into a red sticky pool of sugar blood, and I picked all of the remaining marshmallows out. At this point, I was just interested in finishing baking the cookies so Mike and I could leave for a dinner party, but I was pretty annoyed that I had to throw away a cup of perfectly fine peppermint marshmallows. The cookies, sans marshmallows, turned out great. The crispy rice cereal (I got the off-brand) toasted up and added a new dimension to a chocolate chip cookie. The dinner party guests were smitten with them, and the whole batch was pretty much gone by the time we left despite everyone having stuffed themselves silly with dumplings beforehand. 

I would definitely make this recipe or something similar again, but I would leave out the marshmallows. I made s'mores cookies once upon a time, and I remember stuffing the mini marshmallows on top of the cookie dough mounds I had already laid out on the cookie sheet. Maybe the flavor to coloring to sugar ratio made them extra melty? The world may never know because I had to move onto plan c...
First of all, these cookies—the ultimate winners of my own little cookie competition against myself—were made possible by my unfortunate tendency to impulse buy baking supplies. Mike and I stopped at Big Y on the way home from his parents' house on Sunday to get crisped rice cereal so I could attempt the previous recipe. Then I wandered over to the baking aisle where the mint chocolate chips and the Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder were on sale! I resisted the mint chocolate chips, but tucked the little container of dark chocolate powder under my arm. 

And I am so glad that I did. Midway through picking out little pink marshmallows from the previously attempted dough, I remembered this post from Tumbleweeds blog. Mike was napping on the couch so I  thought Why not? (as in, Why not make two different kinds of cookies in the span of two hours?) And this recipe is so straightforward (I love the way she just puts the instructions in line with the ingredients). I mixed it all up, the dark dark color of the batter making me giddy, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge just in time to take a shower and head out the door. 
The next night was the taste test. I rolled up a few balls, dipped them in powdered sugar, stuffed half an Andes mint in a few of them, and baked them up at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. They came out perfect! Like little pillows of dark chocolate. The Andes mint added a nice festive kick to these babies, but trust me when I say they are perfect all on their own. This immediately became one of my favorite cookies because of the taste and how simple it is to throw together. 

I made two more batches, wrapping these in wax paper and setting them in the fridge to chill until Tuesday night. I ended up baking only two of the three batches that were in my fridge, and the third one is reserved for a birthday party this weekend. I didn't end up winning the office cookie competition (the winner had little thumbprints of whiskey caramel in them. genius!), but I came out a stronger, smarter baker because of it. I'm glad we had so many events to go to this weekend, so the majority of these cookies were eaten by people other than Mike and me. Except for the chocolate crackle cookies. We ate plenty of those. 


I'm not sure what to say.

When tragedy like this strikes, I feel myself clam up. Sometimes it feels like the world around me is alight with emotion, and I am sitting on the side feeling numb. There are many conversations that need to be had: about mental health, about gun control, but also about our society and the role each and every one of us play in it. It is far easier to mourn with a suffering community than it is to stand up and figure out how to help it. We are, most of us, in shock and grief. But if we don't deal with someone mentally ill beyond our capacity to help or understand them, how are we supposed to understand where this problem begins and, thus, where the roots of its possible solutions lie?

I don't pretend to begin to know, but I think what got us here is alienation and belittling of others' beliefs. We can't interrupt anymore, we can't be quick to shut down any person's voice. We must now listen to one another grieving and say, How can we change?

This article speaks directly to why I am afraid of this country on guns, and why any peaceful person who values their right to free speech and thought might be as well.


Photos | Winter cold

I remember I went shopping with an old roommate, and I held up a gray sweater for her to look at, asking her opinion. She laughed and said, "It's as cute as all the other ones you have." Turns out I have a thing for grays and icy blues, for the dead-ish colors of winter, especially after the vibrant and oversaturated colors of fall. Last week, I went for a walk and I picked out all of my favorite colors of winter. The colors you can feel in your fingers, in your toes, that make you crave a hot cup of coffee, a big warm hug.