The Mess Hall

Rants and ramblings on all things edible, wearable, doable, or usable with a focus on Home and Health. Home is fun, easy on the wallet, and “gool” for the greatest game of tag ever (Life). Welcome to my home, the Mess Hall. Get in the Mess!

07 Sep

Beam Me up Some Biscuits

Posted in Garbage Recipes, Makin' Food, Substitutes on 07.09.10 by Octopi

I found a good blog that tried out Mark Bittman’s recipe for (yogurt or buttermilk) biscuits from his book, How to Cook Everything. This is a recipe using only “Top 25” ingredients!  This is also a Garbage Recipe; meaning, a recipe for which you can easily take a gander around your kitchen and jazz the recipe up with some additional optional ingredients.

“Wait a minute!” you say.  Buttermilk is NOT in the Top 25 Must Haves!!  OK, it’s not.  But ingredients to make buttermilk substitute is, so there!  There are multiple ways to use substitutes for buttermilk, which is summarized well at this site.  Today we’re using Option #1, milk with lemon juice.

Buttermilk Substitute

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Alrighty, armed with a substitute for buttermilk: on to the recipe!!

Yogurt or Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe
From How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman


Base Ingredients (All from the Top 25 Must Haves!)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons cold butter (I used about 2.5)
  • 7/8 cups plain yogurt or buttermilk (buttermilk substitute used here was 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. I only used about 7/8 of the combined mixture, as per the recipe)


Garbage Ingredients

  • 6 oz. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoons of rosemary 


Making it Happen

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of a food processor (if you’ve got one), add dry ingredients and pulse until combined. Add butter and pulse until butter resembles coarse meal.  I used a hand mixer to mix ‘er up and it was fine.
  • Stir in yogurt or buttermilk (substitute) until dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and add cheese, if desired. Dough will be sticky. Knead dough 10 times and shape into a rectangle, 3/4-inch thick.
  • Drop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. You could use biscuit cutters, but I personally think they look cool as drop biscuits.  Some things don’t look good homemade.  Like a couch.  Biscuits do, so dare to drop!  Dough should yield about 10 to 14 biscuits.
  • Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until golden brown. 



  • Most people eat home-made biscuits as a stand-alone item.  How about using some of the extra biscuits for breakfast in the morning?  Scramble up an egg, heat up a biscuit, and voila: egg biscuit!!  Kudos if you eliminate a Fat Layer by not including cheese on it or cutting down on the amount of cheese you put on it (instead of putting a whole slice of cheese on it, try putting just a bit of shredded cheese on top for flavor).


Nutritional content information is here.

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28 Aug

Mess Hall Must-Haves: Top 25 Kitchen Staples

Posted in Makin' Food, Mess Hall Must Haves on 28.08.10 by Octopi

Since A and I have lived together, we’ve slowly been identifying our Must-Haves.  As long as we have these items in our kitchen inventory, it’s pretty easy to roll in and cook up some Tasty Goodness. Basically it’s a guarantee for no excuses: if you have these there is no way you can ever say “I have nothing to eat” when you get home.

This list may be a bit like a “top 10 favorite songs of all-time” list. There are several songs that will be on there for life but the rest may switch up a bit depending on your mood. I mean, just because I loved Ice Ice Baby back in middle school doesn’t mean that I love it now. OK, maybe I do but it’s most def not in the present-day Top 10.

Same goes for these items. We’ll revisit this list every once in a while and let you know what we’ve crossed off the list, what we’ve added, etc. Wherever our whims lead us, we intend to keep this list to 25 items. 

Mess Hallers: What would you add to this list and why? 

Cupboard Staples

  1. Olive oil
  2. Flour (Regular All-Purpose Flour)
  3. Baking Soda
  4. Baking Powder
  5. Yeast
  6. Sugar
  7. Beans (dry or canned)
  8. Pasta
  9. Rice
  10. Balsamic or other kind of flavorful vinegar
  11. Onions
  12. Garlic
  13. Honey
  14. Salt
  15. Pepper


Fridge Staples

  1. Milk (soy or regular)
  2. Mustard
  3. Butter
  4. Cheese
  5. Eggs
  6. Soy Sauce
  7. Hot Sauce



  1. Lemons
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Other random veggies


For a printable list click Mess Hall Must Haves Top 25 Staples. Keep it in your reusable grocery bag, purse/wallet or share it with a friend or frenemy.

Looking ahead:

  • We’ll start posting some “Top 25” Recipes in the near future.  That is, recipes that only use ingredients from this All-Star list. 
  • We’ll also start introducing some substitution examples (like Whole Wheat Pastry Flour for regular flour, etc.) for those who want to move to Stage 2 of Mess Hall Madness and get into healthifying options.

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