My new pandemic skills: pastry

So, trying not to shop too often, we’ve been doing a lot more cooking from scratch. And essentially not restaurant food. And I’ve gotten bored of corn bread and rice. So…

I learned to make biscuits. A lot more work than corn bread, but still pretty quick, and very tasty. I’m basically using the recipe in the Joy of Cooking for rolled biscuits, but I’m cutting them into ~squares with a pastry cutter, rather than circles.

Pie crust. I’ve made pie crust before, but I’ve tried a new recipe, and a lot of new “weaves” inspired by Pieomatry, by Lauren Ko.

I’ve also experimented with making muffins with freeze-dried fruit. (Rehydrate first, works well.)

I’m excited by the pie in the oven now. It’s a bi-color woven affair, with some of the crust hydrated with beet juice instead of water.

God, I miss gluten.

I’m also cooking a lot of quinoa. It’s too easy to call it a new skill, but i like it a lot.

Not sure if this thread is about new pandemic skills or pastry (or both); but if it’s the former then, along similar lines, I now make jelly, preferably from ancient fruits. It feels like a little bit of something I got out of a period of limbo.

Never previously made a jelly or a jam in my life, but made 5 batches in the last few months of last year - feral apple; quince (two batches); medlar; and membrillo, which is a bit like turkish delight made from quinces. All detailed in this thread.

Just waitin’ for those marmalade oranges to arrive!


ETA: 2020 was the year I learned to pronounce quinoa - that was enough to make me pleased.

Discussing either seems fine. :grinning:

I’ve made red currant jelly. And i guess lemon curd is kinda like jelly. I’m intrigued by medlar jelly. Where did you obtain medlars?

But I guess let’s stick to pastry and other pandemic food-related skills. I did post this in Cafe Society and tag it as food-drink-cooking.

try quinoa with sliced apples and cinnamon/sugar in microwave in the morning. I hate oatmeal and this is so much tastier.

Well thanks, puzz legal :wink:, for putting that biscuit idea in my head; it might be time to take down the Bisquik and make some Fugly Biscuits.

Does bisquick include the shortening, or just the leavening?

I’m quite proud of myself for mastering biscuits, by the way.

Joy of Cooking biscuits are fantastic, and I’ve been using that recipe as a base for a long time. A couple of notes for flavor and speed:

  1. If you have a food processor, it can go super-quickly. For rolled biscuits, be sure to leave little chunks of butter; otherwise you don’t need 'em and can process to the consistency of grits.
  2. Definitely make them with buttermilk if you can (in my copy the buttermilk recipe is on the next page, so I’ve just penciled in the adjustments on the main recipe page). Whole milk buttermilk is ideal. So much more delicious.
  3. To make the recipe even faster, increase the buttermilk by about 1/4 cup and make drop biscuits. These are extra nubbly, and the nubbly bits are so good.
  4. Add a third-cup or so grated cheese and some Italian seasoning (or whatever combination of herbs you like) for fantastic cheesy herb biscuits. As drop biscuits, I can get these in the oven ten minutes after starting the recipe, and they’re a perfect accompaniment to most soups.

Yes, Bisquick includes the shortening (how it doesn’t go rancid is beyond me); add milk – and apparently anything else you’d like – and you’re in business.

(Apologies for the delay in responding)

I always wonder when people say this. I have a food processor. But it lives under the counter, not on the counter. By the time I take it out, set it up, and plug it in, I could already be done chopping the butter into the flour by hand.

But even if yours lives in a more convenient location… Cleaning the thing is a big job. Washing it by hand definitely takes more time than cutting a few Tablespoons of butter into flour, and then the dish rack is full. Alternatively, many of the parts can go through the dishwasher. But does the flour actually come off, or get baked on? And again, that fills most of the top rack of my dishwasher, which is typically half full of bowls and cups. So I’d need to take a bunch of stuff out of the dishwasher and then put them all back…

Other people swear by food processors. I feel I must be doing something wrong. But I haul mine out half a dozen times a year, if that, for things like making laktes, which would otherwise take ages of grating and involve bloody knuckles.

How long do you cook it in the microwave? I think of quinoa as a supper side, but I like both oatmeal and wheatena, and this idea has potential…

Disappointing answer: in a shop.

To be specific, a Farm Shop - a term which probably needs some explaining (UK; not sure what your local equivalent would be). It’s not like a factory outlet (though see below) - it’s more like a deli in a country setting. This is the particular farm shop where I discovered the medlars, right there in those baskets out front - I bought some because I had no idea what they were and had never seen them before in my life. BTW, that farm shop’s mission statement (kinda) from their website is:

Village Greens specialise in selling fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, including our own grown from our Victorian walled garden at Denbies and our growing fields at Ockley. You can shop for a meal to cook from scratch, local wines, specialist food ingredients. Have confidence in knowing that our priority is for our products to be local, natural and ethical. We use traditional growing methods and do not use artificial pesticides, insecticides or fertilisers. We also stock the best local artisan products…[list]…In fact we sell over 60 products sourced from within a 20 mile radius of our shops. Why not check out our local food and cheese maps in the shops.

IIRC, the shopkeeper said that the medlars were grown by someone in the village who had a couple of trees. I really hope that’s true. I think it’s fair to say that Ockley Farm Shop is doing the best job of any in our area.

I didn’t buy enough medlars to make jelly but, as noted in the Coelacanth Jam thread, by weird coincidence I just happened to stumble across a tree in a community orchard, and picked up some windfalls. What I didn’t say was that a few days later we found yet another tree, in the gardens at Nymans. You get the impression that, pleasingly, there are enthusiasts with an interest in keeping medlars going.


Missed the edit with:

BTW - and this is of no relevance whatever - their other shop is located in the grounds of England’s largest vineyard.

The largest vineyard in England is Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey, which has 265 acres (1.07 km2) under vines, and a visitors’ centre that is open all year round.

Of some relevance: in 2020 I also established that you can successfully grow potatoes in surprisingly small plant pots. Hell, I wasn’t going anywhere, so watering them every day wasn’t going to be a problem. Looks like I’ll be doing the same again this year - I hadn’t anticipated that.


Probably “Farmer’s market”, although that phrase conjures up images of 25 farmers, each selling at a temporary booth, with their trucks nearby.

Still, there’s a shop much like what you describe a town over from me and I might call it a small market or I might call it a farmer’s market (and usually just call it by its name) because as a shop attached to some fields and greenhouses, that also sells fruit and vegetables from other local (identified) farms as well as some stuff from ordinary commercial sources, it straddles the category lines.

It has terrific local peaches in peach season, and might have 35 cultivars of apples in the peek of apple season. :grinning:

Maybe you’re faster at hand-chopping than me, or maybe I’m faster at setting up the food processor than you :). Mine’s under the counter, too, but setup and takedown takes about two minutes total (I think), and it’s the only bowl I use, so there’s no additional bowl to wash, and it’s so quick to whirl the stuff in. I wash the bowl by hand, and it gets clean, and it’s fast.

Tonight I used mine for biscuits and for hash browns. Both jobs were made much easier.

Different tools for different folks, I guess!

I’ve learned how to make bagels, croissants, pretzels and many types of bread. I’m worried I am not going to be able to burn off enough calories if I perfect pastry. But know I’m thinking how good biscuits can be.

Bagels are WAY harder than biscuits. My husband does lots of yeast breads, but he tried bagels once, and we decided we’d buy bagels thenceforth. My first attempt at biscuits was quite passable.

I’m going to guess some of both. I have a nice pastry cutter, which makes hand-chopping pretty easy. And it takes me a while to fish out the cuisinart (which is behind the coffee maker) and clear a space for it on the counter, and unplug something so I can plug it in…