I recall a moment in time when our dear friend Hilary asked Ben, "Benny, what would be your top 10 books of all time?" Now, as my husband is a an avid reader as aforementioned, it would seem difficult to find a top 10. In fact, he just told me yesterday that he checked out the most books from the library than anyone else in his whole elementary school (back when he was in elementary school). But, he quickly named one off the top of his head (which is another hard thing for my introverted husband to do...he's more methodical about his ideas & words), 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
If I could summarize what it is that he likes about it (as do I), I would say it's a book of self-discovery put into action. It helps you find out who you are, what you are capable of and putting it into practice. This is huge for Ben. And as I've been married to him for 7 1/2 years now and a mother of two, I have SO appreciated this philosophy on life. It helps with focusing on the areas of life which are important, but not urgent. An example of this would be setting a date night with Ben, because although the dishes, laundry & bills are the urgent items in life...having uninterrupted time with my spouse is important for the long haul. It's learning to not live life putting out the fires (searching at 5:00 what to make for dinner, searching for a snack 20 minutes too late as your child (or you) screams their head off).
As we approach the New Year, our family is writing up a Mission Statement, in order to live in the Important, but not Urgent. We are seeking to know what is best for our family and what aligns with our values, dreams & beliefs and not some other family. Our mission statement will give us direction for our long term goals and help us navigate in our short term goals. It is also mailable, because visions change course and we need to adaptability. I not only want to create a haven for Ben & the girls (and other children we might be blessed with), but also for people outside of it. For our extended family, friends, and the stranger & neighbor who we barely know. My life has been richly blessed by people who extended kindness, grace & overwhelming care when I needed it most. And sometimes it was surrounding a dinner table with food, while other times it was around a dinner table with a listening ear & loving embrace.
I hope you would be encouraged by the people who have done the same for you, or how you have been that person in times of need. May 2010 bring you clarity of perspective, dreams to dream & a dinner table open for an invitation. Maybe these Quicky Sticky Biscuits will cut through the awkwardness and create a yummy slice of hospitality.
Quicky Sticky Biscuits (printable recipe)
Recipe is adapted from the book, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor. These biscuits are not for the faint at heart. They are rich & buttery and they're not ashamed to show it. If you're looking for something light or watching your figure, be warned, as these biscuits will blow your 2010 resolution diet out the window. BUT, they are definitely amazing and worth bringing to a family brunch (so you won't be tempted to eat too many).
For the Sticky Pecan Sauce:
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
For the Biscuits:
4 cups bleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (2 sticks) very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1 1/2 to 2 cups cold buttermilk (I used 2 cups)
For the Topping:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted (depending on how rich you want them, use 1/4 cup for less rich)
POSITION A RACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OVEN AND PREHEAT TO 425F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan with softened butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
TO MAKE THE SAUCE: Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Melt over low heat. When the butter is melted, increase the heat to high and bring to a gentle boil. Cook, uncovered, until the mixture thickens, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the chopped nuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Set aside.
TO MAKE THE BISCUITS: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender (if you don't have a pastry blender than use two butter knives to cut the butter). Blend until most of the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, with some of the bits of butter the size of small peas.
MAKE A SHALLOW WELL IN THE CENTER OF THE FLOUR MIXTURE AND POUR IN 1 1/2 CUPS OF THE COLD BUTTERMILK (I used the whole 2 cups at this point). Use a fork to blend the buttermilk into the flour to create a soft dough. If the dough seems too dry as you are stirring it, add the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times to make sure it comes together. Pat the dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle. Use a sharp chef's knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into 12 square biscuits.
TO MAKE THE TOPPING: In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon. Brush the tops of the biscuits with some of the melted butter and sprinkle with some of the cinnamon-sugar. Place the biscuits, evenly spaced, cinnamon-sugar-side down, into the pecan syrup-lined pan. Brush the tops (once the bottom) of the biscuits with more melted butter and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon-sugar.
BAKE THE BISCUITS UNTIL GOLDEN BROWN AND PUFFY, and the sticky pecan sauce is bubbling around them, 15-17 minutes (it took more like 23-25 minutes for me). Cool slightly, then place a large serving platter over the top of the pan and invert it. Remove the pan and allow the pecan sauce to fall around the biscuits. Use a small spatula to scrape any residual syrup from the pan onto the biscuits. Serve immediately (but they taste pretty darn good hours later).