One year. 365 days. How odd and delightful. I have a penchant for missing important dates which don’t involve an actual human’s milestone, and I certainly did forget with regards to Venturing East’s first birthday in September. This blog has remained a steady background singer in the soundtrack of my life. As I nourish it with words and pictures, it serves as a sort of Miracle-Gro for my heart.
For some irrelevant reason or another I shunned writing a proper introductory post on Venturing East. I don’t know how I managed to blog for a whole year without giving you all a somewhat in-depth spiel pertaining to the defining traits of Kellie. So I’ll do that now, as a poorly devised love letter to all of you who follow me, and anyone new who may pop up. The nitty-gritty and sometimes not so pretty interests and tidbits. Here goes it.My given name is not Kellie. For simple privacy purposes and admitted embarrassment, I will not disclose my birth name here – but there you go. I am a pathological cheek biter & dermatillomaniac and I link it to my deeper problems with anxiety disorder. I am diagnosed with anxiety, on the panic spectrum, and I talk about it a lot here, but I have suspicions that other mental disorders characterize my behaviors. Right now I had to pause my typing and clean up a completely unidentifiable oven spill, which I guess could be attributed to the Svensk kladdkaka I am attempting though I can’t source the origination point of the explosion. I make a huge mess of countertops both when I bake at home and when flinging frappuccinos at my job. My favorite television show is The Newsroom, which tragically ended this year after three seasons of biting truth and beautiful philosophical musings on the broadcast industry and how tragedies are portrayed through the media. You will inevitably find coins scattered on my bathroom floor. I share my bed with insomnia. Anxiety things. If I go a day without quoting Lord of the Rings, something is wrong with me and you should probably shove a cookie in my mouth with one hand and rub my back with the other. I’m impatient. I’m good at math but convince myself I’m horrible. I’m loud. My manager often comments that my candid face rings of an assassin. I string together swear words so effortlessly that another manager has taken to yelling “MOUTH!” when I’ve put too many in one sentence. My capacity for empathy is uncanny. My handwriting is often compared to type font. Lee Pace is my celebrity crush. I have not seen my father in five years and my brother in seven. Hello, hi, hej, hola, bonjour, hei, hallo. I’m Kellie and I’m so glad you’re here: reading, baking, nodding in agreement or sighing in understanding. Thank you for one year on this little tendril of virtual space I call mine. Pop some of these biscuits in your mouth and let’s celebrate together.
Some other bloggers inspired the biscuit-baker lodged beneath my conscious being. I rarely gave thought to this Southern tradition – perhaps because Florida is not so southerly even though it hangs off the US like an ornament much further down in latitude than the so-called “Deep South.” But sometimes I’m a late bloomer. Sometimes the leaves drift off tree branches in October and it takes me until February to pick them up (or, in this case, the blog birthday flits by in September and I only recall it a month later). Flowers budding after the general field has colored are still intriguing and worthwhile. Likewise, biscuits gracing tables after 21 years of ignorance still taste like biscuits. And when you add pumpkin, rosemary, and other choice fixings, these biscuits burst into another realm of awesome, like Middle Earth or something. There’s the LOTR reference this post demanded. You can still feed me cookies despite. Wink wink.
Pumpkin is the symbol of autumn. It is written on Starbucks cups with “spice latte” tailgating the word, drawn on napkins and strung on fall-ish wreaths. I last baked it into some spiced white chocolate-pumpkin muffins. The gourds are carved with faces ranging from silly to downright frightening and placed on porches or balconies or doorsteps with little candles illuminating the faces as night pulls its sweater over the Earth. Today, a smooth dose of puree was plopped into a bowl with other things to make it palatable. In a moment of bravery, I switched gears and slid the cinnamon back into the cabinet. What about savory pumpkins? Something with a little kick of heat, laced with ginger, highlighted by savory nubs of fresh rosemary and a generous dose of flaky salt? It’s different. It felt out there but sometimes out there feels right.
The basic biscuit is now transformed. Once you try these you will hesitate to knead a prototypical dough. These balls of brunch joy use less buttermilk than normal due to the moistness of the pumpkin puree. Your main friend here is the rosemary, preferably cut fresh from a plant of your own care but perfectly acceptable if sourced from a market or grocer. Next is ginger, for a slap of fall associated generically with pumpkin. If you desire bonus points, grate the ginger yourself and use the remaining root to boil a cup of afternoon tea. Rounding out the lineup is cayenne, not only a pivotal flavor enhancer but an appropriate kick-in-the-pants for Sundays where you want to relax yet need the energy to type up a 2,500 word short story and write down 30 film definitions. Mix them all together, and you have a physical manifestation of WOW for your morning meal.
I spread these biscuits with butter and layered slices of honey ham and butterkäse atop. You have no limitations, really. A good peach jam, buttermilk fried chicken, or a creamy gravy with smoky bacon and sauteed onion would pair well with these puppies. Experiment and explore. Throw shit together and pray. That’s my philosophy. A spoon and a bowl and a little imagination go far. I implore you to be adventurous. Venture East with me, and let’s create obscure new delights together.
Pumpkin Rosemary Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 stick of butter
2 TBS fresh rosemary, chopped finely
1 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Scant 1/3 cup buttermilk
ASSEMBLY: Heat oven to 425 degrees and grease a baking sheet. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Stir in chopped rosemary, ginger, cayenne, and clove. Add pumpkin puree and mix until loosely combined. Cut butter into batter until crumbly. Slowly pour in buttermilk until a shaggy but cohesive dough is formed – if too sticky, add about a tablespoon of flour at a time until the necessary texture is accomplished.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and pat into a rectangular shape. Fold dough once towards you, turn counterclockwise, and roll out carefully with a rolling pin. You want to use a bouncing movement when performing this part of the task so to keep the layers in tact. Repeat this sequence two-to-three more times. Use a biscuit cutter to slice rounds of dough and place onto prepared baking sheet. When you can no longer cut biscuits out of your dough slab, reform the dough and perform the aforementioned pattern (pat, fold, turn, and roll). I got 8 biscuits out of this batch, but my biscuit cutter is quite large; you could probably get 10-12 with a smaller cutter.
Bake biscuits for 10-12 minutes. Serve warm with desired fillings and toppings.
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