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Going with the Grain + Joan’s Biscuits

March 28th, 2007

George Clausen, Haying, 1882. © 2006 Art Gallery of Ontario

People these days have such a love/hate relationship with “carbs” – but it’s amazing to think about how much work it takes to bring those grains from field to plate. I’m reminded of this when I look at artworks like George Clausen’s Haying (1882). I must admit until quite recently my only thought when I put my whole grain slice in the toaster was: peanut butter or honey? But a visit to New Brunswick’s historic village Kings Landing last summer enlightened me. It has a great operational 19th C. mill staffed with costumed interpreters who explained how farmers brought their wheat grain to the mill to be ground into flour by these massive turning millstones powered by water from the nearby river. Very cool.

Here’s a simple recipe that features wheat flour at its best. This recipe is from Joan, my buddy Heather’s mom. I spent some time at her family’s camp near Cape Tourmentine, NB (out east it’s a camp, not a cottage). Joan rattled off this recipe to me from her head while mixing a batch before dinner one sunny warm evening by the bay. They are simply the most melt-in-your mouth biscuits you’ll encounter. Joan’s secret: FREEZE the butter and then grate enough off the block when it comes time to bake. It’s ingenious!

  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 butter or magarine (frozen, grated)
  • 1/2 cup milk (works with skim and soy milk too)

Mix together. Knead a couple of times. Flatten ball to be about 1"-1.5" thick on cookie sheet/ flat pan. Cut into squares with a knife. Bake 14 mins or so at 425 F (until golden around the edges and a little on top). Enjoy!

  • John David K. Tran

    typo on the butter, 1/2 of what?

  • John David K. Tran

    typo on the butter, 1/2 of what?