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Circumstances

buttermilkbiscuits2.jpg

 

I am a person bounded to my life by circumstances. I was born and raised in a small Kansas town. Altamont, KS was a town of 1,000 people and it really was a great place to grow up. It is the kind of place where, as a kid, we could walk the streets past dark, ride our bikes out of the view of our parents eyesight and they would not worry, sit outside the post office and chat with the strangers who walked by, and more. I did not appreciate it growing up nearly as much as I do now.

Now, I am married to a wonderful man whom I met in Kansas City, have a great family, and live in... Kansas... still. I have moved from the small town to the big city (Kansas City) but I am still in Kansas. I really do have a great life... we live in a neighborhood surrounded by some of the best neighbors you can find. I have some great friends. Our school district is one of the best in the state. The crime rate here is very, very low. My husband has a very good and stable job, that he just happens to come home griping about every single day, but all in all he is committed and is treated well.

So, why is it that I am feeling so restless? Why do I want to leave Kansas so bad? I have always longed to live in the south. Charlotte, North Carolina to be exact. I long for the adventure of picking up everything and starting new...an adventure with my family that we can do together and grow from.

I look at the weather reports for my favorite locations every single day. I read the newspapers from my favorite locations every single day. I go to www.findyourspot.com and dream of moving to the places that it recommends. Interestingly enough, the town that I live in now shows up as an option each and every time.

I have friends picking up and moving... not looking forward to it and I long to trade places with them. To carry on on the journey they are about to embark on.  I often wonder if once I got there, if it would be all that I dreamed of, or if I would finally realize that Kansas is not the wrong place for me after all. I think it is a situation where you don't know what you have until it is gone, but I have a feeling I won't realize that until I can experience it for myself. Someday.... someday.

In the meantime, I fill my time making those recipes that I consider to be truly Southern. Southern Buttermilk Biscuits is one of those recipes that, when it is snowing outside and the sky is gray, takes me to a place down south where the weather is more mild and the beach is near.  Where sitting out on the screened in porch and drinking sweet tea is a normal, every afternoon occurrence.... and Sunday's after church, Grandmother's everywhere are baking up a batch of buttermilk biscuits to feed to their family for brunch.

I am a person bounded to my life by circumstances... and when I really sit down and think about it, those circumstances aren't so bad. Nothing like a delicious breakfast, in a warm home, surrounded by your own family, to change your perspective some. 

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits (from Recipezaar.com)

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , plus more for dusting the board (if you can get White Lily flour, your biscuits will be even better)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (use one without aluminum)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter , very cold
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I always use my buttermilk substitute... one Tbs lemon in one cup of milk... let sit for 10 minutes then stir together)

    1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
    2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor.
    3. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal.
    4. If using a food processor, just pulse a few times until this consistency is achieved.
    5. Add the buttermilk and mix JUST until combined.
    6. If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk.
    7. Turn the dough out onto a floured board.
    8. Gently, gently PAT (do NOT roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick.
    9. Use a round cutter to cut into rounds.
    10. You can gently knead the scraps together and make a few more, but they will not be anywhere near as good as the first ones.
    11. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet- if you like soft sides, put them touching each other.
    12. If you like"crusty" sides, put them about 1 inch apart- these will not rise as high as the biscuits put close together.
    13. Bake for about 10-12 minutes- the biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom.
    14. Do not overbake.
    Posted on Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 11:27AM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments32 Comments | References2 References

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    Reader Comments (32)

    Oh I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this post. I am struck with the same restlessness lately, and am often reminded of what a blessed life I have right in front of me. Beautiful biscuits, and thank you for the story.
    February 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoy the Baker
    I think we all have the Spring bug where we feel like starting a new beginning with the seasons. What we all need is a nice vacation so that when we do come home again we appreciate our home and our families and all that we do have much more. We need to try and appreciate every moment..so I am trying hard to do thattoo:D
    February 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBellini Valli
    Interesting post! You never know what God may bring your way. These biscuits look great...not that hard, flat tack that homemade biscuits often look like. These are so fluffy and light looking. Yum!
    February 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterclaire
    I moved from Arkansas to Raleigh, North Carolina five years ago this spring... too warm here for my tastes, but NC IS a beautiful place to be and the southern food really is pretty outstanding.

    Perhaps life will bring you to Charlotte someday...

    Your biscuits look wonderful, Kristen!
    February 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
    Wow...replace "Kansas" with "Illinois" and I could've written this post! I am dying to go westward, though - Colorado or the Pacific NW. Maybe someday! My grandparents were from the South, and we used to eat biscuits like these every Sunday with sausage gravy...mmm...so good!
    February 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennie
    Wow! I grew up in Kansas City (the Missouri side) and did move away - to NJ - when I got married. Funny, but growing up I always wanted to move away... anywhere, somewhat similar to what you were talking about in your post. It took quite awhile to get settled in after moving to NJ and feel like it was home, but now I can't imagine living anywhere else.

    I love biscuits and gravy... and these might have to make it on a weekend breakfast menu. Thanks for sharing.
    February 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPatsyk
    What a lovely post.

    I grew up feeling just that way--and leave I did. I've had wonderful opportunities to travel to quite a few places around the world, and happily so. But about 5 years ago I realized what I was missing--my family and the way I was raised.

    It's been two years since we moved back to my hometown, and I love it.

    There's something to be said for travel... but you don't have to move away permanently. Start planning regular vacations to Charlotte--maybe that will eventually lead you to a retirement home there!

    I know a family that loves a particular city so much that they started a college prepaid program for their kids to enter college in that city when they were old enough, and bought a duplex there. One side for the kids to live, the other for rental income. Then it would eventually become their retirement home, if they chose to make the move. Interesting plan, eh?
    February 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMrs.W
    My father was a golf pro. We moved quite a bit and when he was a golf coach in New Hampshire, we would drive down to Florida for "the winter" as soon as he couldn't see the colored golf ball in the snow.

    I get antsy about every 6-8 months and wish to just "run away", but then I remember that I live in a very special little bubble (a hellishly expensive little bubble mind you) and go down to the beach or up to the mountains or walk through the Art Museum or sit in one of our many parks and calm my desires to dash off.

    I highly recommend taking one day out of the month and play "tourist" in your town/city and learn to look at your surroundings in a different way. I find it a great way to appreciate the little things that we often take for granted when we live somewhere.

    White Lily flour is the ONLY flour to use for true "southern biscuits" in my opinion!
    February 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercookie jill
    Restlessness is not necessarily a bad thing, if it translates into adventure and travel. Yes, life at home sounds pretty great, because all of the important elements are there. Yes, you could recreate that life somewhere else. But for now, find a way to scratch the itch -- and cooking is one of those ways. Family vacations are another. Perhaps you'll find a way to be in Charlotte a couple of times a year, and that will be wonderful.(By the way, I often get restless in my house -- so I take a day and move furniture and artwork around, and then I feel like I'm somewhere new!)
    February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLydia (The Perfect Pantry)
    Beautiful post Kristen. I think we all get an "itch" for change once in a while, maybe not all for the same reason, but life goes by so quickly we don't notice all the changes already going on all around us!
    February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLyB
    Hello...I just found your blog today while searching for a recipe. I stopped to read this post, it touched a very personal nerve for me, and just needed to respond...

    My parents moved from NY to San Diego when I was 3. I grew up in a small town in Southern California, went to college in Los Angeles and in Paris, France, moved to San Francisco where I met my husband and eventually back down to Southern CA, where I worked as a designer in LA. We eventually settled in Ventura County where I was a stay at home Mom. I consider myself open to change, I have traveled around quite a bit and I too get "restless". I have always attributed it to the artist in me who yearns for a culturally *richer* expereince than the stay at home Mom in the suburbs life I currently lead. I often use cooking...with good music and a few lit candles, it can go a long way towards taking me to another place and time, if only for an evening. My most recent detour...New Orleans, through Susan Spicer's new cookbook, some Ellla Fitsgerald, Loius Armstrong and a kitchen full of candles. I'm on Rue Dauphine again.

    Last year, my husband's company gave us 3 days notice and moved *him* to San Francisco. We knew we couldn't afford to move back to the Bay Area...were told the tiny 1,000 sq. ft. bungalow we owned would run about $1.3 Million up there... In all honestly, despite an Ivy League education, 25 years experience in Finance, and having little to no debt at all, California was knocking the wind out of us financially. No one could keep up with the skyrocketing costs of living. In many ways, we were dying to leave. So, when this happened, we took the opportunity to pick up and move across country. To start all over again, in Raleigh, North Carolina. I too was *very* excited about living in "The South". I envisioned a charming southern home, friends and good southern food. This would be fun! Last April, we landed, and I want nothing but to go back home.

    I am 40 now, not 23, and I guess you don't really realize just how many people you know somewhere until you move to a place where you don't know a soul. The guy who packs your bags at the grocery store, the couple who own the local Chinese restaurant, the mailman. Not to mention any number of neighbors and friends at my children's school, who still write to say they want us back.

    I have learned that Californian's tend to look at themselves and the world around them in a completely different way than the rest of the world. They are more open and friendlier than anything I've experienced here. People on the east coast, and especially Southerners are not as open and welcoming as I'd seen in the movies. All of my neighbors here are *wonderful* people, but almost everyone in Raleigh is a *Yankee*. I think I've met 2 natives.

    Yes, it is beautiful here, and somedays I just wish it could be *home* ...but it's not. And as hard as I try, I don't think it ever will be. Now, don't get me wrong, I actually don't regret our decision. I don't believe in accidents, and I'm sure we came here for good reason (though that's still a little foggy at this point). I mean, you were right when you said that you don't ever really *know* until you do something yourself. I am grateful for the *experience* of it all. The trip to Graceland in Memphis alone during our drive across the country was worth it all. But.....

    It's also taken it's toll on my very stable, well adjusted and flexible kids. My daughter is just about the most happy, peaceful, calm person I have ever known. She cries now, all the time. Misses her friends, and though she's at a wonderful private school, it's just not the same. We haven't found that same closeness that we had found in her last school. So, now what do we do? Move her again and try somewhere else? She's only in the 2nd grade. How damaging will that be for her?

    I had grown up with these "east coaster" parents who spent 35 years in California yearning to go back east again. They believed that the west coast was simply *inferior* and I think I believed them a little bit. But, the problem is, I was raised there, and I am, truly, a Californian at heart. I can navigate my way from San Diego to San Francisco and most places inbetween without thinking about it. I know the good areas and the bad. I know where to find the best Italian bread, the best Chinese food, the best beach to build sandcastles, and the best pumpkin farm in the Fall. I also know what I can grow and can't grow, and what snakes to avoid! I am completely lost here.

    So, for what it's worth, I *feel* your restlessness. I know it personally. I've always considered myself very open and excited about change in my life...and if it were just my husband and I, it would be a completely different. I know there weren't a whole lot of choices at the time. I want to say I wish I'd looked before I'd lept, but honestly, it felt a lot more like had been shoved off a cliff at the time.

    So, I want to tell you to be very careful before making such a big change for yourself and your family, but I can't because what do I know? It might be the best thing that ever happened to you. And you won't know until it happens. I just thought sharing our experiences might help you to feel a little less restless for now.

    I don't regret it, but I do want desperately to go home. On the other hand, Italy is looking very tempting to me these days. Venice, specifically. My husband said he plans to move me there when he can, but now *I'm* not so sure. Maybe we can rent an apartment on the Canal for a month every summer? Because, I think, in my heart of hearts, I'm a Californian, and after we move back, I think I'd best stay put next time.
    February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMH
    I think everyone knows how you feel, to an extent. I would love to be living in Seattle. For some reason, it has always drawn me in. But now I'm dreaming of living in the South with those biscuits!!
    February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah
    The boy is from Kansas and is obsessed with biscuits and gravy. Bet he'll swoon if I make him these. Thanks for the recipe. :)
    February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
    Life circumstances created times in my life where nothing was stable, and I can count 21 moves from the time I was 6. Yet, I have never left Minnesota.

    Moving is one of the most stressful things I can think of doing. Nothing yanks the rug out from under you in such a way as a move will. Nothing makes you feel more unsettled, more shipwrecked and more empty than packing your life into cardboard boxes and starting over, even if the faces around you are the ones you love more than your own heartbeat.

    For me, nothing, but nothing says 'Home' to me more than a place where I can walk through in the dark and not have to be afraid of crashing into something. Nothing says security than a neighborhood where the postman, the UPS driver and the home food delivery man all know you by name; where the clerk at the store can say 'Hey! Haven't seen you in a while! Where have you been?' after you've been gone for just five days. And nothing says home more than the neighbor who will shovel your driveway when he notices it hasn't been cleared right away after a snowfall. Everyone needs their own definition of 'home' and all the securities that can bring. Define it and live it, regardless of where it is.
    February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKate
    I did the find your spot and my top place ended up in Eugene, Ore.which is almost kismet because my daughter is seriously looking into going to U of O in Eugene. I live in California and only one California town came up in my top 10. Thanks for such a fun link it got our whole family talking.
    February 19, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkrysta
    my mom always said home is where you make it. I think she's right. (we moved a lot when I was younger-dad had a government job). these biscuits sound pretty good, although my southern grandmother would have used lard and not butter. The south is pretty great, we'd love to have you! Not to rub it in, but I went barefoot in the backyard today!;) And yes, we really do brunch after church every sunday and have big family dinners every sunday night.
    February 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHilary
    I, like most of the wonderful people who have chosen to respond to your writing, completely understand where you're coming from.

    It wasn't all that long ago I was in your position myself, nearly word for word. I was restless and longed for an adventure. Then suddenly, through circumstances beyond our control, my husband and I had no choice but to move from our home in Chicago to, you guessed it, Kansas City. It was called, "We better move if we want to keep feeding the family," and here we are, in your neck of the woods. Guess that makes us neighbors.

    Would Kansas City have been my first choice? No. Not really. I've always considered myself a born-in-the-wrong-location southerner, much as you mentioned, and might have preferred to make a home in Savannah or Birmingham if I had been given a choice.

    It's taken a while to adjust to our new life as Kansas Citians. Outside of my husband's business partner, we knew no one when we moved. No one. Initially it was hard on the kids, but that gets better with love and time. And as a previous commenter had mentioned, you tend to miss the subtle things taken unintentionally for granted - familiar friends, familiar faces, familiar restaurants, familiar streets and more. So much more.

    Now that we've actually been here a while, it's finally starting to feel like home, but that feeling has taken longer than expected - to get to a place of comfort, a place of belonging, a place you can call home. It's easy to think "home is where the heart is," and to some degree that's true, but when you move a far distance from where your base is, from where your memories are, well, let's just say sometimes your heart can take a while to catch up to your moving truck.

    For what it's worth, a long vacation can easily scratch a restless itch, sometimes just enough to make you miss the place you ran so hard to get away from.

    And what about you being from Kansas? You of all people should know there's no place like home ;-)

    Enjoy those biscuits and pay me a visit sometime. I've got a very southern Chess Pie around here somewhere. We can plan your 'Charlotte getaway' and enjoy a slice of the south without ever leaving Kansas City.
    February 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCork & Feast
    Oh, Yes, I had to respond to "Cork & Feast" (above)...it's the MEMORIES. You reminded me that when I first came to Raleigh, that is exactly what I kept telling my husband..."My *memories* aren't here". In California, no matter where I went I could say "There is the house you were born in Maddy"..."There is my college....my first job, the beach I used to surf at with my high school boyfriend, the ice cream store I went to as a child with my Dad, the night we went to the 'Bowl' and heard John Williams and it was magic, the restaurant we took Lauran to for dinner and laughed so hard when Jack was first born....And Remember your first Christmas pagent at the school, and our visits with Santa in Pasadena every year...

    It is my memories I miss most. This place is a stranger to me. I do not have 40 years worth of memories here. When I drive around, every corner is unfamiliar. This *place* holds no memories for me. That is just going to take time...a lifetime.
    February 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMH
    Thanks for sharing. Everyone feels that restlessness or longing at some point.

    Your photos are beautiful.
    February 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCheri
    Your biscuits look great! I'm from the south and, while I love to bake, biscuits are still something I have never mastered. Maybe I should give them another try...

    Travel and adventure are wonderful. I've been there, done that, and I've loved it. My life has taken me from Kentucky to Texas and Virginia and now the Pacific Northwest. I have seen a lot of things and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

    Still, reading about southern recipes almost brings a tear to my eye. I'd have to say, be careful what you wish for. In the end, there's no place like home!

    Thanks for a great post!
    February 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

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