Biscuits For One

Giant Buttermilk Biscuits

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a ‘sigh, I’m alone’ post. And god, I thank you for sticking with me through those. In one sense it feels like just yesterday and in another it feels like it’s been a decade. And I haven’t written about it much because most days I’m doing pretty darn well. I have great friends, an amazingly supportive family, exciting writing jobs popping up left and right, and interests and passions that keep me busier than I’d like to be. But to have just a moment together here–a little bout of honesty–it sucks eating alone. I haven’t gotten over this part of being single. I hate it. And as you can probably tell by now, I’m a big fan of eating. So we have a little problem on our hands.

One summer when I was in graduate school, I decided to escape to Cape Cod by myself to work on a syllabus for a course I’d be teaching in the fall. I found a cheap Bed & Breakfast in Chatham and spent time alone just reading, drinking lots of iced coffee, beach walking, bike riding, and eating ice cream cones. I have the fondest memories of that week. The only difficulty was when 6 p.m. would roll around and I’d panic over what to do for dinner. I was comfortable sitting in cafes alone, but an actual restaurant was a different story altogether. So one night, tired of take-out burritos or trail mix + apples, I drove into Provincetown and chose a little Mexican spot that seemed casual enough (and virtually empty). And I had a meal there. Without my cell phone or a book. I just sat and looked out at the amazing pink light on the horizon and the piles of almost fluffy sand nestled against kayaks on the beach and kept repeating to myself what my mom had told me, “No one’s as interested in what you’re doing as you think they are.” And that was that.

Biscuits for Breakfast

So what is it about eating alone that I’m having difficulty with lately? Truthfully, I think eating a meal is about so much more than just food–it’s sharing your likes and dislikes with another person, your quirks and habits, your stories about the day. Laughs. Glances. Understandings. That’s the part I miss. A lot. But I gained some perspective this week when an old professor shared this video from poet Tanya Davis and filmmaker Andrea Dorfman. It’s all about being alone but not being lonely. Just straight-up chilling out with yourself and grooving on it. This little video is charming. Watch it.

It inspired me to bake a whole batch of Giant Buttermilk Biscuits for me, myself, and I. I had two for breakfast this morning with lots of butter and jam, and I plan on having another for lunch with tomatoes from the garden.

biscuts and jam

“Lonely is a freedom that breathes easily and weightless and lonely is healing if you make it. …if you’re happy in your head, then a solitude is blessed and lonely is o.k.”

So I’m shooting for being happy in my head. Funny way to phrase that. I guess for many people that’s a lifelong pursuit, huh? I’m finding, today at least, that eating a biscuit with cherry jam helps. I like what Davis says about taking the perspective you get from being one person in one head, too. In a way, I’ve gotten to know a lot more about myself in the past 5 or 6 months than ever before. So I know looking back at this time, I’ll be thankful for the occasional lonely meal and I’ll probably wish I had a whole plate of biscuits all to myself.

Note: This is the first time I’ve embedded video into my blog–if you have any trouble viewing it, will you let me know?

Giant Buttermilk Biscuits

Giant Buttermilk Biscuits

  • Yield: 6 large biscuits
  • Prep time: 30 mins
  • Cook time: 13 mins
  • Inactive time: 15 mins
  • Total time: 58 mins

This recipe came from a Food and Wine feature called Dixie Deli, profiling Matt and Shelia Neal’s sweet little deli in Carrboro, North Carolina. There they make oversized buttermilk biscuit sandwiches with pastrami — and on Saturdays friends, farmers, and locals all line up to start their mornings. The turning method described below helps evenly distribute the butter, making these biscuits super flaky. I’ve added cheddar cheese, and I think any smattering of herbs would dress them up even further.

Adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening
5 tablespoons total unsalted butter: 3 tablespoons thinly sliced & 2 tablespoons melted
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 475 F and position a rack in the upper third of the oven.

In a large bowl, whisk the 2 cups of flour with the salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles course meal. Using your fingers (or continuing to use the pastry blender), quickly incorporate the sliced butter, leaving large bits of coated butter (this makes them fluffy). Freeze the mixture until very cold, about 15 minutes.

Stir the buttermilk into the flour mixture until a raggy dough forms. Add the cheddar cheese and quickly incorporate with a fork or with your hands. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and  gather together into a casual ball. Press any loose bits of flour into the main ball of dough.

Roll into a 9 by 7 inch rectangle, about 3/4 thick. Fold the rectangle in thirds like a letter, then fold it in half to form a small package. Press or roll the dough into a 9 by 7 inch rectangle again. Repeat the folding process two more times. Using a 3 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out 4 biscuits. Gather the scraps together and stamp out 2 more. Arrange them on a cookie sheet and brush the tops generously with the melted butter. Bake for 13-14 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the tops and bottoms are lightly golden.

Comments

  1. Francie

    I loved your blog today! Thanks for writing, it keeps me inspired.

  2. Maria

    The biscuits look amazing! I want one with homemade jam right now! Great video too:)

  3. Shannalee

    Have I told you how much I love reading your posts? If you were lonely over there and I were lonely over here, sharing blogs is a nice kind of community, don't you think? I loved the video you shared, and I was (I kid you not) going to cite the same line you quoted below it. Lonely is a freedom. Lonely is healing. I like that.

    Man, I wish we could hang out in person! But meanwhile, there is beauty in the fruit of loneliness. There is value in what it produces, whether biscuits or thoughts on a blog. I can't get enough of yours, friend!

  4. Nicole

    I am a new reader and commenter and this is a beautiful post. I agree that food is about more than just eating. I saw that video going around Twitter a little while back and it's wonderful. Biscuits are the ultimate comfort food, good choice!

  5. The Southern Cookbook

    Being from the South, I love biscuits. I make them every time I get a chance. Your biscuits look wonderful!

  6. Erin

    Thanks for this wonderful post, which I found just as I sit down, again, for dinner alone, again. Thanks for reminding me of the difference between lonely and alone, on a night when I was feeling a bit of both.

  7. merry jennifer

    I love, love, love this. The video is just beautiful. I'm so glad you shared it - and your amazing writing. I'm a sucker for biscuits, and if I were alone, I think I'd eat a batch of biscuits slathered with butter and jelly, too.

    But you know what? Even though you may be eating alone, you're really not alone.

  8. Elizabeth Howes

    Such a sweet post and video. I needed this today -- so thank you!

  9. Follow My Eyes Friday | The Art of Observing

    [...] everyone in your life down, and the author is a gifted writer and photographer. The other is about biscuits and the finding the space between loneliness and being alone, posted by an amazing photographer and [...]

  10. Macaroni Mama

    Hey there. I am Merry Jennifer's mom and I loved this post.

    1. megang

      Well hi there, Merry Jennifer's mom :)
      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your nice comment!

  11. Heather I.

    What an inspiring post, I really needed it today. With a husband who works late, I eat alone much more than I'd like and your perspective helps me realize it really isn't all that bad.
    Buttermilk biscuits are such a wonderful side and yours look so delicious!

  12. Danielle

    I just want to come over and give you a big hug right now, but that wouldn't be giving you time to be alone would it? :) I hear you about eating alone - I hated it too, for the longest time. And even today, I still need to psych myself up somedays (for lunches when I don't cook), and almost always get take-out for dinner when I'm alone.

    Over the years though, I've come to learn that solitude is a real gift - I like nothing better than to visit a new city/country and explore it on my own. So much anonymity, freedom and possibilities....sounds a little like what life is unveiling for you right now (minus the anonymity ;)). Catch up soon xx

  13. A Canadian Foodie

    My recipe is the same except I use no oil or liquid butter.... just ice cold butter - and 1/4 cup - all other proportions are the same. I just made 50 today for our nutritious lunch program. They are terrific! I also have the same white spoons from Crate and Barrell. I LOVE them!
    And, I have been alone. 17 years, to be exact... raised my girls on my own. And, I learned to eat in the restaurant if I wanted to, or go to a movie. And, I grew to be very happy and very independent. Then, I met Vanja. When I didn't need to.
    I loved your post.
    XO
    Valerie

  14. Janet

    Love this post, this video, and I'm pretty darn certain I'll love these biscuits.

    Having time alone is a funny thing. When we don't get enough, we crave it, and when we have too much alone time, we go crazy (at least I do!). I've come to enjoy some things about being alone - traveling, going to the movies, and most meals. And it makes the ones we get to share even sweeter!

  15. Dana

    Sometimes there are moments where it's nice to be alone. You don't have to share your biscuits!

  16. Anne Zimmerman

    Isn't it weird that when you have someone to eat with regularly, eating alone feels like an indulgence, but when you don't, it's just lonely? I'll eat with you anytime.

  17. Sandy

    What a perfect Sunday morning blog I stumbled upon..so sweet,thank you for sharing and absolutely amazing biscuits!

  18. Harmony

    Years ago I felt alone even though I was surrounded by friends and family. I lived with a roommate who was actually a friend; I had many friends and colleagues with whom I worked and played. Yet still, I wasn't in a relationship and felt odd man out so many times. Internally, I just felt alone.

    While picking up friends at the airport, the plane was delayed so I browsed one of the gift shops and came cross a magazine with an article....an excerpt from a book by Terri Schultz.... titled "Bittersweet - Surviving and Growing from Loneliness".

    I ordered that book from a local bookstore, read it from cover to cover and it completely changed my perception of loneliness. I highly recommend it.

    Thanks for the post and recipe, Megan. I must try these biscuits; they look delicious. Of course, I now have a husband and children, so I'll have to double it. Ironic....no?

    1. megang

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Harmony. Yes, ironic for sure (in a very good way!)
      Thank you too for the book recommendation; I'm always looking for a good new, read. I think you'll like the biscuits. Let me know what you think :)

  19. Dana

    I totally hear what you are saying and I wish I could come down and have dinner with you! Or invite you in for dinner with us. Randy travels a lot and I eat a lot of dinners on my own. I rarely cook and I shovel food in with my nose in a book. Miss you!

  20. Jubelo

    Boy those biscuits look good .I am a self annointed chef and will be trying it soon . As
    for alone it is not healthy for human beings
    to spend too much time alone .God did not design us this way . There are three requirements for happiness . Something to do ,
    someone to love ,and something to hope for .
    Jubelo

  21. April

    This was a terrific post! I am new to your blog and after reading this today, I will be back. That video was terrific, and timely for me as well; I posted it on my facebook page to share with family and friends. I am still adjusting to being a young widow after my husband died 18 months ago.

    When my diet allows me to eat starches again, this is going to be one of the first recipes I try!
    Namaste,
    April

  22. Andrea

    I, too, made biscuits this weekend. I didn't have the willpower to save any of them them. They were not as giant but I, um, ate 7 of them...

  23. lori

    I am a biscuit lover. Always have been, always will be. When I was single I'd make a batch and savor every bite happy not to have to share. I didn't think I'd ever have to but I am a poster child for "It will happen when you least expect it." I am married with a child and both my husband and son love biscuits as much as I do. On the mornings we fight over that last one, I feel happy that they are with me while remembering the pleasure of indulging in a whole batch by myself. Enjoy that last biscuit, because you just don't know how soon you'll be having to share it!

  24. Angharad

    Eating alone is hard. I find it's easier at a restaurant actually than it is at home. At a cafe you have distractions, but at home is when I feel it.

    That how to be alone video is an absolute favourite of mine - it's just got so much truth in it. Thanks for reminding me of it this Monday morning.

  25. megang

    I feel so lucky reading over these comments! What great readers I have, and happy to see some new readers/commenters.

    Lori + Harmony: Thank you for sharing your experiences, especially the part about "when you least expect it."

    Yay for biscuit lovers: Andrea, Maria, Heather, April, and Nicole!

    Miss you, too, Dana. And Anne we're well overdue for a cookie date.

    Shannalee: I have a strange feeling we'll meet one of these days. And it'll be fabulous :)

    Merry-Jennifer: Glad you liked the video (and loved that your mom commented, too!

  26. Susan

    Happened upon your blog this day, and happy to have found it!!
    I will pass you along to my daughters, I'm sure they will enjoy you too!
    Have you ever thought of freezing your unbaked biscuits??? I think they would work wonderfully!!

    1. megang

      Freezing them is a great idea, Susan! I just froze a few of the already baked ones, but I like the idea of always having a few biscuits in the freezer ready to roll. Great tip!

  27. Paula H

    Megan, I am so glad I found your blog. I was intrigued by the title Biscuits for One because so often I spend time alone. Ever since my daughters went away to college and my husband took an over the road job (all this happened in the same month), I have found myself very lonely at times. I am doing so much better than I was, but find it hard to do some things alone. It really confuses me because when my husband and I were first married, he traveled alot and I always did alot of things alone. I don't know why I feel so anxious about it these days. Anyway, I loved the video and will have to watch it a few times to get everything out of it. I plan to keep you as a blogging friend!

    1. megang

      Wow, Paula. Thank you so much for your sweet comment and for sharing your experiences with me. I'm glad you stumbled upon the blog, too :)
      I think you raise a good point about the difficulty when the change is sudden (break-up, your girls leave for school etc.)...so that takes a bit of getting used to, I'm gathering. I'm right there with you on that one. I'm glad you liked the video. I found it very smart and charming.

  28. sarah

    What a lovely post. I can't wait to try the recipe. The video is really beautiful too.

  29. El

    Those are great looking biscuits. Stay strong and keep baking ;>)

  30. Delishhh

    Love this post. Remember that you are not alone, all of us have gone through it at one time or another and made it to the other side. Love the video! And the buscuits look amazing!

  31. Barbara Bakes

    Love this post. I'm one of those who has trouble being alone. Although, I would love to be alone with a plate of these biscuits.

  32. MaiaJane

    I love the poem, and the whole post!
    Buttermilk Biscuits are my culinary solitude. Nobody in my family (including my boyfriend, who is a chef) dares learn how to make them (just the good-old Joy of Cooking recipe with a couple simple twists) for fear that they may, one day, make them better than mine. If that were to ever happen, they would lose my sleepy grin in the morning when I bring them biscuits in bed...and who would want that?

    If you ever want to try something new: a tip from a fellow biscuit-lover (and great believer in solitude...particularly while baking) try baking them in a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet...you'll get a little bit crispier exterior, which helps hold all the flaky goodness together!

    Thanks again for the beautiful poem...and for making me get off my butt and go to the store to find buttermilk!

    1. megang

      Oh, thank you Maia Jane! I'm a firm believer in cast iron and have made english muffins this way but never thought to try biscuits in mine. Will do next time. Thank you for the great idea, and for stopping by A Sweet Spoonful!

  33. Brian

    Just made these and they're amazing! Finally fluffy delicious biscuits :) My girlfriend is looking forward to becoming the new biscuit queen in her family now that her grandmother isn't making them anymore.

  34. Sanford Eagar

    I almost certainly would not have contemplated this was helpful two or three years back, yet it is interesting how age evolves the manner you respond to things, many thanks for the blog article it truly is great to see something smart here and there instead of the usual rubbish disguised as blogs and forums over the internet. Cheers

  35. Jacqui

    i always have such high hopes for eating alone, because it means i can make a meal that my husband wouldn't normally eat. but somehow, once i'm alone in the kitchen, i usually end up with eggs, or chickpeas, or a tin of sardines, or avocados and toast. but that's the beauty of it, i suppose -- all definitions of what "should" be a "meal" go out the window, and it's just you and your tastes and you thoughts and what makes you happy.

    lovely post, megan.

    1. megang

      Aw, thanks Jacqui. You're absolutely right about our definitions and expectations. And truthfully, it's certainly a time when we really eat exactly what we feel like eating, isn't it. Thank you :)

  36. Rich

    I freaking love buttermilk biscuits! Especially when they're giant and cheesy! I am going to make them, and then eat them. Then I am going to make them again and put southern-style saugage gravy on them. Then I am going to go get my cholesterol checked to see if I can do the whole thing over again.

  37. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction

    Another beautiful post... and beautiful biscuits, as well. I always love reading what you have to say. Thanks for your honest perspective!

  38. Chakra @ Full Chakra

    I'm a little new to blogging though not to food! I love your collection and this post. I used to teach hands on Whole Foods/Raw Food prep kitchen classes. In these classes we made mounds of amazing food, at the end of class all attendees would partake in an incredible shared meal.
    Folks often commented that part of the joy of the whole experience was eating food made by so many generous hands; what this leads me to is food is a shared experience from farm to table and though it seems like it frequently, we really are not alone.

  39. Qyniwimuhenu

    Hello! I just want to give a huge thumbs up for the nice info you've gotten here on this post.

  40. Row

    Lovely post and lovely recipe... thank you! I'm glad that you have found someone special to share buttermilk biscuits with. :)

  41. Elizabeth3789532899

    Awesome recipe!
    Also, that video is amazing. I have it just the audio downloaded onto my iPhone. Watching and listening to that always makes me feel better

  42. view

    Hi to every body, it's my first go to see of this blog; this blog contains amazing and truly excellent material in favor of readers.

  43. Tami

    Love the video & all that you wrote. Yes,eating alone is the hardest part to handle,in being Single(again). It's awkward in public; eating alone anywhere, makes the food not taste so satisfying. Life was meant to be shared,but I had to separate from my husband in 2001,(marriage could not be saved)div. him/2002,so,I've been "alone", raising my daughter alone,for 12.5 yrs,she just turned "18" yesterday.....I let her marry her Sailor on Sept. 14...I did not want to be selfish and say no just to try and keep her here so that I won't be alone...she'll join him in Cali. in Jan.; God is "weaning" me slowly,from having her here all the time. I'm ok with it;I always knew this day would come,I just didn't know when.....baby bird is flying the nest ! Thanks for sharing your thoughts/feelings and the video.

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