July 21, 2009

From Soup to Biscuits

When I was home in Texas visiting my parents, we made more than just a pie. I swear. In fact, we made a few things, including a Cream of Chicken Soup and Cactus Jack Biscuits.

I have to tell you though, the Cream of Chicken Soup was not a first choice recipe. It was a last minute substitution made after we decided that it was just too darned hot to even think about standing outside over a hot grill to make steaks.

Now please, do not faint on me folks or accuse me of blasphemy. You have to keep in mind that when I was home it was about 100 some odd degrees and the grill is on the back porch under the sun all day long.

So, unless we were going to grill something for breakfast, then we weren't really up for grilling outside under the broiling sun. Heck, we were barely up for going from the front door to the car to a restaurant. Sad. I know. Oh well.

Anyhow, like I said, Cream of Chicken Soup was a substitute. We picked it because we had just about all the ingredients we needed for it. This was some good stuff and fairly simple. Basically, it's cooked, shredded chicken; chicken broth; some heavy cream; rice; and - in my version of the recipe - a can of Ro*Tel. Mix it together. Bring it to a boil. Let it simmer until the desired consistency. Really. How much easier does it get?

The Cactus Jack Biscuits on the other hand, well, those were definitely an "Oh my gosh! I have to try making these!" recipe. I mean, c'mon! Cactus paddles were the leading ingredient and cheese was the second ingredient. How could I not make them? These little biscuits combined a something new ingredient with a much beloved ingredient.

Plus, I knew for a fact that the local grocery store always had fresh cactus paddles in the produce aisle. So I'd be able to buy just enough cactus for the recipe and would be able to avoid buying the ginormous jar of canned cactus.

Now... Maybe I should take a moment for my Northern friends. Yes. You can eat some types of cactus. Yes. You have to remove the needles or buy them prepared or needle-less. No. I hadn't actually ever used cactus as an ingredient before, but that didn't mean I wasn't going to try 'em.

Okay... Where was I? Oh. Yes, the ease of buying fresh cactus paddles in a Texas grocery store.

Yeah. Whatever. Didn't happen. They were out of them! Out of cactus paddles!

Talk about irritating. I wound up having to buy a honking jar of canned cactus paddles after all.

Now, had I been on my own, I would have gone to every blessed store within a 20 mile radius to find fresh cactus paddles. I can be obsessive like that, I admit it. However, like I said, it was flipping hot as Hades out and I couldn't ask my parents to go in and out of goodness only knows how many stores on a search for fresh cactus. They may be enablers, but even I know they have limits.

Anyhow, the jarred cactus paddles turned out fine. For my mother's sake though, I used only a quarter cup of diced cactus paddle pieces instead of a half cup. She's not a big fan of green peppers or things that look like green peppers in her food. Diced bits of cactus paddle fall into the latter category.

The one thing that surprised me about this biscuit recipe was not that there were only four ingredients (cactus, cheese, flour & butter), but that they weren't fluffy little biscuits. When I think of a biscuit, I think big and fluffy. Granted, given the lack of baking powder or salt, maybe I should have had a clue about their texture, but I was focused on the cactus part.

These were a little more like scones in texture. Since we were having these biscuits with soup, it turned out to be perfect because we could crumble them up into the soup or slather butter or cinnamon honey across them. In retrospect, these scones-like biscuits would not have been as good with a steak, no matter how good the steak.

Go figure! The kitchen gods were looking out for me after all.

And for the record, I didn't even knock another cookbook off the list with either of these recipes because they both came from the "Texas: The Beautiful Cookbook."

At this rate, I'm going to have to lock myself in my kitchen with a full pantry and cook for days on end to accomplish my cooking challenge. Ugh. Why did I think this was a good idea again?

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