Picture this. It’s six o’clock on a Thursday morning and you’re making biscuits. You’ve set your alarm fifteen minutes early and you know it will be at least another forty-five before the sun starts to peak over Vulcan Mountain. It’s cold, but not too cold. You’re groggy, wearing too many layers, waiting for the coffee to slowly percolate. It’s your roommate’s birthday, so these are important biscuits, but you only have one roommate, so you’ve decided to half it. All of the sudden, a whole teaspoon of salt goes in – the measurement specified on the full amount.
What is there to do? Your first reaction is to try to get the salt out. This is unsuccessful because salt is kind of hard to find in a bowl of flour. Your second reaction is to panic and throw it away, but the clock is reaching 6:30 and you’re almost out of flour. Your third reaction is to say, “What the Hell,” and keep going; adding a bit of cornmeal, an extra splash of buttermilk, and a grind of black pepper in your best attempt at balance. You put the biscuits in the oven with the sweet potato you’ll scarf down later for lunch. You work on your notes for your fourth grade class on the Food Web. You take the biscuits out, try a bite. They’re the best damn biscuits you’ve ever made.
I’m finding post-grad life to be a lot like accidentally ending up with the best damn biscuits you’ve ever made. I’m five months out, and things seem to be consistently happening; sporadically, joyously, terrifyingly, and all at once. It was graduation and I blinked. I moved to Alabama for a job that I accepted without even putting down the phone. My roommate (who I love) moved with me more or less because I asked her late one night, after consuming one or two or three drinks together. I’m a teacher now, and in the classroom many, many things seem to happen haphazardly – thoughtfully and haphazardly all at once, if there is such a thing.
(the new digs – full of light)
Lessons are written, but they rarely go as planned. As a teacher, you’ll be asked questions you probably don’t know the answer to and will have to embrace the art of admitting this, mastering the slow head shake and the phrase, “Well what do you think?” It is an act of constant improvisation – to the unanticipated question, the unanticipated disruption, the unanticipated childhood crises of vomit, tears, an upsetting election, or simple hurt feelings. And much like being a new teacher, moving to a new city is an exhausting and rewarding balancing act between the unexpected turn and allowing yourself to occasionally stop and ask for directions.
Life is keeping me on my toes these days, and it’s a good place to be. I’m learning that as a new teacher, a new adult, and a new resident of Birmingham, Alabama a little boldness goes a long way, and if you don’t fear the unanticipated, small accidents (and a little extra salt) you may even end up with the best damn biscuits you’ve ever made. Happy Thanksgiving y’all 🙂
Salty Cornmeal Biscuits
*Note: I made this using discard sourdough starter – and if you don’t know what that is, you don’t keep a sourdough starter and you don’t need to worry about it! It is an AWESOME use of your weekly (or daily) discard though. For you sane folk replace the 3/4 C discard starter with a heaping 1/3 C of AP flour and slightly over 1/3 C of extra buttermilk (adjust as needed!).
1 C AP Flour
3/4 C sourdough discard (stirred well!)
1/4 C yellow cornmeal
2 t baking powder
3/4 – 1 t salt (choose your own boldness)
8 T unsalted butter
splash of buttermilk, shaken
2-3 grinds of black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 425 F. Combine sourdough discard and yellow cornmeal in a small bowl, set aside
- Combine AP flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
- Cut in cold butter in T chunks with a pastry cutter or using your fingers – crumble the dough into a shaggy consistency with pea sized chunks of butter.
- Add cornmeal/sourdough mix and your splash of buttermilk, mix lightly until combined. Add a few grinds of black pepper as you mix.
- Scoop large plods of dough on to a slightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes and immediately transfer to a cooling rack.