Here’s a first in Bon Appétempt history: spoiler alert.
This post discusses—in vague-ish terms—the season one finale of Homeland; as well as the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, and perhaps, eventually, the delicious biscuits and chai tea I made yesterday morning.
I’d like to begin by saying that I can't completely understand the hype surrounding Homeland. In my (humble?) opinion, it's good and super entertaining, but not life-changingly so (like, say The Wire is), and every once in a while, Mandy Patinkin will say something in a certain way that reminds you that he’s Inigo Montoya (You killed his father, prepare to die.). This is no knock on Mandy Patinkin. He’s great. This is just how brains work.
And then, the other night, Matt and I watched Searching for Sugar Man, which I loved and highly recommend you see, and I couldn’t help but think about how natural it is, as an artist—but also simply as a human being—to desire recognition. And also, how sweet it is to finally get it, even if it takes almost 30 years.
As I was pondering all of this, I was reminded of something Kara posted (which I’m going to borrow. Thanks so much, Kara!) about Vincent van Gogh, who, to bring this full circle, suffered from bipolar disorder (just like our main character, Carrie, in Homeland does) as well as, during his lifetime, an acute lack of recognition.
From the Writer's Almanac, March 30, 2012:
“It's the birthday of Vincent van Gogh, born in Zundert, Holland (1853), a painter and also great letter-writer. He wrote about art, of course, but also friendship, religion, prostitutes, interior decorating, and his love affairs. His letters are often lively, engaging, and passionate; they also frequently reflect his struggles with bipolar disorder. He wrote: ‘I have a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion. Then I go out and paint the stars.’ And he wrote: ‘What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.’"
I think this is one of the reasons I love cooking so much. So much of our day involves quietly making an effort and not being recognized for it. (I mean, wouldn't it be nice if, every once in a while, confetti dropped from the ceiling after you unloaded the dishwasher at 7am?) But when you take the time to follow a recipe, the recipe just about always gives you something back. Take these biscuits for example. They may not appear as feathery or as pretty as Heidi Swanson’s, but they were delicious—buttery and just a tad sour from the yogurt. I enjoyed pulling them apart—like one might do with an Oreo—and eating each half while they were still warm. I enjoyed a second one with a touch of butter and strawberry jam, though that was kind of gilding the lily, especially since, after reading this, I’d been inspired to make chai tea. (Not that exact chai tea, but a different version that called for fewer ingredients, most of which I already had in the pantry.)
Spot of tea, anyone?
Yogurt Biscuits via Super Natural Every Day
makes 12 biscuits
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or spelt flour)
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
1 1/2 teaspons fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into tiny cubes
1 1/3 cups Greek-style yogurt
Preheat the oven to 450F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Place an ungreased baking sheet in the oven to preheat as well.
Combine the flours, salt, and baking powder in a food processor. Sprinkle the butter across the top of the dry ingredients and pulse about 20 times, or until the mixture resembles tiny pebbles on a sandy beach. Add the yogurt and pulse a few times, or until the yogurt is just incorporated. Avoid overmixing; it's fine if there are a few dry patches. Gather the dough into a ball and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead five times and press into an inch-thick square. Cut in half and stack one on the other. Repeat two more times--flattening and stacking, then cutting. Add more all-purpose flour to prevent sticking when needed. Press or rollout the dough into a 3/4-inch thick rectangle, but no thicker; if the dough is too tall, the biscuits will tilt and tip over while baking. Cut the dough into twelve equal biscuits.
Transfer the biscuits to the preheated baking sheet leaving 1/2 inch between each biscuit. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply golden and the biscuits are cooked through. I like to eat them hot, split throught he middle, with a touch of butter on each half.
Spiced Tea (Masala Chai) via Saveur
makes 4 1/2 cups
1⁄2 cup evaporated milk5 tsp. sugar
6 black tea bags
5 pods green cardamom, crushed
Bring milk, sugar, tea, cardamom, and 4 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Remove from heat; let steep for 5 minutes. Strain and serve hot.