This weekend, I read a piece by Mark Bittman in The New York Times, detailing the costs of eating nutritious, home-cooked meals versus eating out. According to Bittman, many Americans explain the high rates of obesity in this country by relaying the "fact" that it's cheaper to eat at fast food restaurants than to buy decent, healthy food elsewhere. Using an especially great infographic, Bittman shows us that this "fact" is really more of a myth. After all, feeding a family of four a meal of potatoes, simple salad and roast chicken costs less than half the price of feeding that same family at McDonald's.
So why the nationwide obsession with the golden arches? One reason, among many, is that Americans aren't cooking. Time in the kitchen is seen as grueling or impossible, rather than healthy, simple or relaxing.
I promise you, these buttermilk biscuits are relevant to the discussion. This recipe is one of those super easy and incredibly rewarding recipes that makes you wonder why you don't spend more time in the kitchen. I grew up waiting with baited breath for these to come out of the oven, and I have such lovely memories of pairing them with a bowl of soup on cold evenings. It is one of of those recipes, in fact, that made me love cooking (and clearly, I've loved it ever since). Also, the recipe I've posted (and that I frequently use) is from Mark Bittman himself. Because he really is a fabulous guy (and a good tipper, which I learned from serving him when I was a waitress here) with simple recipes and a great writing voice.
Make the biscuits. Then, if you're feeling the urge for an egg McMuffin, fry up an egg and some bacon, stick a slice of cheddar on top and shove the whole combo into one of these biscuits. Problem solved.
Buttermilk BiscuitsBy Mark Bittman
3 cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks of butter, cold
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Mix together thoroughly.
Then, cut cold butter into Tablespoon size chunks. Add the butter to the flour mixture and use your fingers to rub the mixture together until it resembles small peas--essentially you use your fingers to combine the flour and butter into a crumb like mixture.
Stir the buttermilk in with a wooden spoon, stirring until just combined.
Drop the dough in large spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden.
*If you're interested in this cause, there are quite a few groups across the country that are working to stimulate a renewed interest in the kitchen. From groups that teach children to cook and grow gardens in urban spaces, to groups that put former gang members to work baking bread, there are a lot of ways to get involved.