November 24, 2014
Hang on to your turkey.
The Final Thanksgiving I spent with extended family on my side of the tree ended with my mom (rest her soul) and me raiding the fridge for our traditional late evening turkey sandwiches. Except.
Turkey gone. Stuffing gone. Gravy gone. Nothing, nada, zip. Not even a teaspoon of mashed spuds. I was a hare’s breadth away from breaking down into a full, sobbing wail.
That was the moment. The moment I realized, as every adult must, that as much as you want to be part of one big happy family, for some of us, it’s never, ever gonna happen. (I’m not talking to you, Two Percent, you who are surrounded by abnormally normal family members.) For the other ninety-eight percent of us, there’s always one dysfunctional soul who’s going to burst that bubble. On the day of the mandatory family gathering you’ve tried lip-zipping, deep breathing, and spending an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom. Finally, finally you realize that Older Brother (or fill in the blank) will always and forever be three sheets to the wind before you can say Jack Robinson, and the inappropriate comments will flow from there. And then he’ll steal the turkey.
I mention this because for some, the holidays are not always so happy, happy, happy. They push our buttons and dredge up feelings we don’t have to look at during most of the year. But if we are very lucky and very proactive, we can create our own loving circle of family and friends without the trimmings. And we make our peace with that.
I keep things very, very simple now. I stop and appreciate a really good cup of coffee. I make my family’s favorite dishes. I resolve to be content whether there are two or twenty of us at the table. I say no to that which does not nourish me, and yes to that which feeds my soul, and that feels good.
Rest assured, I will make plenty of turkey this year and share the leftovers—so if you know me, and don’t have any leftovers of your own, come on over and I’ll make you the best turkey sandwich ever—or maybe you’ll get mini sandwiches with turkey tucked into these herby biscuits.
At the end of the day, Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what we have and what choices we can make despite what’s being served up by forces we can’t control. And oh, right, don’t forget: Hang on to your turkey.
Buttermilk herb biscuits
For a special breakfast, tuck sausages into these herby biscuits to make little sandwiches, but save a few to eat with soup or turkey later in the day. The acidity of buttermilk and moist dough make them light, with a subtle crunch on the outside. You may substitute a mixture of half plain yogurt and half milk if you don’t have buttermilk, or use milk by itself and leave out the baking soda. A powerful authority has informed me that the fluted cutter (in photo) is reserved for sweet scones, but hey—fancy pants over here wanted to make them special. Any cutter, including a juice glass, will do.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoons chopped chives
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
Flour for the work surface
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a baking sheet and a 2 1/2-inch round pastry cutter.
2. In a food processor, process the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda for a few seconds, to mix. Add the butter and process for 20 to 30 seconds, or until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs with a few small butter pieces. Add the parsley, chives, and rosemary, and pulse once to mix. Add the buttermilk and pulse in short bursts until the dough clumps together. If it seems dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional buttermilk. Scrape onto a lightly floured work surface.
3. Knead 2 or 3 times, just until the dough is smooth. Handle it as little as possible. Sprinkle the top lightly with flour and roll to a thickness of 3/4-inch.
5. With a 2 1/2-inch cutter, cut into biscuits. Press the cutter straight down into the dough without twisting it to keep the biscuits from becoming lopsided when they rise in the oven. Gently gather the scraps together, roll, and cut out more biscuits. Set 1-inch apart on the baking sheet.
6. Bake for 18 minutes, or until light golden brown. Biscuits are best served on the day they are made.