Nothing to see here

Isn’t that what they say?

When there’s actually quite a lot to see, but they want you to move along? I, on the other hand, have literally had nothing to see for quite some time. But now I have things to show and tell.

Let’s start with… Baking. I have always been fascinated by cooking from the Southern states of the US. The names of the dishes are mysterious and wonderful, the combinations and flavours can be strange to UK and Australian palates, and many of the ingredients are not at all easily obtained here. But one thing I’ve always loved the sound of is ‘biscuits and sausage gravy’. For breakfast, mind you. Now obviously, these are American biscuits, which closely resemble our scones, rather than being the sweet, flat, crisp jobs we dunk in our tea or coffee. And sausage gravy? Not the rich, meaty brown liquid we make from our Sunday roasts, but a thick, pale, creamy sauce flavoured with crumbled ‘breakfast sausage’. This latter ingredient isn’t snags, or bangers (‘links’ to my US friends), it’s a large roll of seasoned sausage-meat cut into thick slices and fried, served with eggs, etc, for breakfast. I haven’t seen breakfast sausage anywhere in Australia*. You can take a pork snag or two and squeeze it out of its skin, mash it up and that will do the job, fried in a skillet and crumbled. After that, add flour, seasoning and milk, and stir till the whole thing thickens. It takes patience but is very tasty. Anyway, failing the sausage gravy, I made biscuits. I think they turned out rather well! Yummy eaten warm with butter. I would have added honey except, you know, diabetes… If you’re an expert biscuit baker, I’d love to know what you think of my amateur effort.

Gardening. As you’re probably well aware by now, we have a caravan (travel trailer). We keep it in the front yard on a not quite level piece of ground between two flower beds. Because of the curved, banana shape of the outer, raised bed, nearest our front boundary, it has been difficult to back the ‘van into her spot when we come home. So I have shortened and straightened it. Which involved heavily pruning some ornamental trees (ixora, hibiscus, variegated ficus, azalea, Bankok Rose and Snow on the Mountain), shifting what felt like several hundred edging bricks, hacking out soil, repositioning irrigation pipes and some power-weeding. Total time, 2 days of hard labour, but so worth it. I also enlisted the Husband and his angle grinder to remove the old and nasty mailbox which lives in that raised bed. It had finally rusted past the point of no return so that rain more or less guaranteed soggy mail, and will be turned into something more useful in its next incarnation. We also got rid of the ‘ornamental’ street number some aesthetically-challenged previous owner had crafted out of welded steel chain and tack welded to the supporting post… A new, functional, powder-coated steel mailbox improved matters no end, and I wrapped the now-disfigured post in a square of imitation buxus panel. It looks rather fetching…

And finally, Sewing. I have finally got back to the Twilight quilt, and the first two rows are sandwiched and quilted, although I’m not sure you can tell from this photo. I’m using a rather beautiful purple Rasant thread, which blends rather well, but also has a pretty shine. It’s made by Amann, and is  cotton spun on polyester core thread which is both strong and smooth-running. So far, so very good! I’m quilting a cross hatch a hand’s-width wide, which is enough to safely hold the layers together but also results in a very soft and drapey finish to the quilt. There has also been activity on my Hopscotch quilt blocks, but I’ll leave reporting on that until ScrapHappy Day.

Amazing what a long post I’ve written about nothing at all!

 

*If you’ve seen it, do tell me where, as it’s just the sort of thing the Husband would love…

66 thoughts on “Nothing to see here

  1. Where best to fit… errr… park… the caravan is always the question. I admire your efforts to both garden and accommodate the van. Your description of the ornamental street number gave me a laugh… it would have been quite the thing in its day.
    There’s always something going on even if it doesn’t always seem blogworthy but you’ve done a good job of the baking… I come from Scone (Aus), and they look like scones to me but if calling them biscuits means I can eat them with sausage gravy, I’ll do it 😀

    • katechiconi says:

      The Husband’s preferred option was to abolish the raised bed altogether, but I wanted to hang onto the shrubs and trees, and besides, uprooting the huge steel pipe on which the letterbox rests would have meant digging to, Sweden, maybe… The biscuits/scones are simple enough: SR flour, butter and milk. And virtually NO handling, just some very gentle patting into shape. I think maybe they’re a touch more savoury than scones. Until you add jam, of course.

  2. tialys says:

    I can’t possibly comment on the first, meaty section as I haven’t eaten pork (lamb or beef) for a few years now but I do remember having ‘unusual’, to a British palate, combination of foods when I visited the States a few times years ago. It’s the sheer quantity of stuff that sticks most in my mind though.
    We need to do something similar, although maybe not quite as drastic, to our driveway as I send those reversing beeps into a frenzy when I drive straight in and then have to do a 20 point turn to leave the car ready to go out again,
    The Twilight quilt is looking gorgeous and the thread with a nice gleam to it sounds just right for a bit of twinkle at twilight.

    • katechiconi says:

      I know what you mean. I can’t imagine eating chicken, waffles and syrup together, for example, and I can’t imagine macaroni cheese as a side dish, like vegies. Regarding the raised bed, I’d ideally like to establish a circular driveway for the caravan. It’s doable, but would be expensive, requiring a grader to level it, footings to be dug and concrete laid to ensure a level pad for the caravan. This is the low rent option!

  3. cedar51 says:

    Lots of people never master scones – I used to end up with a cross between our biscuit and a flattened hard tack cracker. But for some reason I came upon a melted butter idea and to date (not made any for ages) turn out very nicely. And the previous eaters would say “I thought you said you were making scones?” Now say “wow you mastered them…”

    I don’t want to park anything beside my flat but the neighbouring trees are on a mission to take it over, yet again. Yes I’ve talked to the property manager about it many times, but it’s not happening for some reason. I had said maybe I should approach them, apparently “no” but I would dearly love to show said neighbours their status in my car space!

    Your quilt is looking magic – good work young lady ….

    • katechiconi says:

      None of the many scone recipes I’ve tried have been as successful as this simple 3 ingredient biscuit recipe. For me, the major innovation is almost zero manual handling, and certainly no rolling pins!

  4. Ooooo 🤩 Your ‘biscuit’ recipe was perfect and they were scrummy and did not last long at all …. We had it with spicy goat curry & all I did was have one small piece of meat & lots of gravy…. And the biscuits were dunked with glee ☺️

    I have given J a day off tomorrow so he can do some ‘outside’ work for me 😄.
    We are still in lockdown and as we can’t go anywhere it’s a perfect time to do ‘stuff’ outside & I’ve booked a hard rubbish collection in a couple of weeks so we need to get started on some clearing…

    Last but not least it’s so good to see your beautiful quilt again. I can’t wait to see it finished. I will be ringing u tomorrow to catch up & chat 💬

  5. sounds like pork sausage meat. Here it tends to be in the aisle with the bacon and ham, not next to the sausies. I try and get it plain and then I use about 500g of it to make a giant sausie plait – adding (cooked, cooled and drained so as dry as possible) very finely shopped onion, mushrooms, smoked bacon with a bit of sage, rosemary, and then breadcrumbs and a grated apple or two, some orange zest and some raisins I’ve soaked in brandy, plus an egg to help bind. The sausage meat makes up about half of the bulk, so it’s a really economical way of making a giant posh sausage roll. MrG’s family get particularly excited on the rare occasion I make it for them.

    • katechiconi says:

      I can’t get pork sausage meat locally. Beef yes, and the majority of sausages eaten in Australia are beef, but it’s not the same. It would need me to buy it from the butcher, make up a sausage mix, form it, and then somehow make a big sausage from it, as I don’t have the sleeving material that would make slicing patties off it possible. I think I’ll just buy a pack of chipolatas! But your recipe does sound extremely yummy, and I can totally understand the excitement! I reckon you should do a post on how to make it!

      • Lol. That’s kind. I have managed to slice it frozen, and when we make our burgers, I do the same (less the booze n raisins) but crucially form the burger shapes, and then freeze them on baking paper, before stacking them in a tupperware, separated by the paper. They keep their shape even on a proper barbie.

  6. claire93 says:

    sounds like there’s been plenty to keep you busy ^^

  7. Neethu says:

    Those scones look yummm😋😋😋

  8. Going Batty in Wales says:

    You have been busy! I’ll take your word for it that biscuits and sausage gravy (even if neither of those is what I would expect from the name) is delicious! I love the idea of a sparkly thread for the quilt. Your description of the gardening makes me think your foot must be fully healed now as that is serious work!

    • katechiconi says:

      To be honest, the sausage gravy is not something I’d want every day, unlike the biscuits/scones, which seem to me to call for butter and honey. The foot is almost totally back to normal. I can’t yet do ankle raises on that side alone, but as real life rarely presents a need for that, I don’t feel it’s much of an issue!

  9. Caroline says:

    I hadn’t realised that in Australia most sausages are beef – being English obviously to me sausage is synonymous with pork. I came across a recipe for Scottish square sausage (yes I know I’m watching YouTube far too much) and wondered if it would be similar to the US one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Oqg02xSVak&list=PL9ehgM2nse8W9fuCKSrEuLRDeTt9hYCJO&index=34

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m a pork sausage girl myself and had a bit of a culture shock when I got here all those years ago. I suspect your square sausage (before watching the video) is what an ex-boyfriend used to call Lorne sausage, and indeed it was sliced and fried for breakfast. I shall take a look, thank you!

  10. “sausage” always makes me think of black pudding, common enough in the place of my birth – but not here, of course. Here it’s all BOEREWORS!!!

    • katechiconi says:

      Which I also love, but not in this context. It’s amazing how many variants on the sausage genre the world has produced, and how different they all are. I must admit to an enduring love for rookworst, sliced and cooked with cabbage, red capsicum, apple and onion. Not for breakfast, though….

  11. Bear says:

    Sausage biscuits and Gravy… a mainstay and comfort food of my life. A mainstay… oh, man, now ya got me hungry for it. Guess I’ll be stopping by the store to purchase a roll of ground sausage. hehe. Oh, and it’s not just for breakfast. Sometimes, hubby and I have it for lunch (midday meal), or dinner (supper). When camping, it’s always a must before heading out into the wilds for the day. Love the progress on the quilt, too. I’ve been frantic sewing of late on a dress and matching prayer Kapp. Slowly trying to make up a new, simpler wardrobe.

  12. nanacathy2 says:

    I had often wondered what ginger snaps and bistro would taste like, but the real thing sounds odd too. The quilt is amazing, I love how it looks now. Two days hard labour is very impressive, I would love to see the caravan in situ.

    • katechiconi says:

      I expect our transatlantic friends would find ginger snaps and Bisto fairly strange too! But if you think of it as plain scones with a savoury white sauce with bits of pork sausage in it, the concept isn’t too bizarre. Personally, I don’t think the milk gravy would become a favourite food for me, but other elements of a Southern breakfast, such as fried apples, crispy bacon and eggs might!
      I must give the garden time to recover from my ministrations, and then I’ll see about a photo 🙂

  13. It’s charming to read of your take on sausage gravy, which to me in the northern U.S. looks appallingly like greasy chunk-laden glue. But biscuits are another thing entirely. The favorite version around here is a tantalizing biscuit made from sourdough, although I make them as drop biscuits (faster! less flour!) rather than rolled out and cut biscuits. Recipe right here: https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/buttery-sourdough-sandwich-biscuits-recipe

    I must dispute your claim of “nothing at all.” Good lord, woman, what you’ve accomplished in a few day’s time is more than I get done in a month. I’m lying. Two months, if I’m really trying. Even my cucumber plants mock my speed. By the time I put up a few quarts of pickles, I had 10 more cucumbers to process…

    • katechiconi says:

      The milk/sausage gravy isn’t that bad, really! It does need to be well seasoned, and you only leave as much sausage grease in the pan as you need to form a roux with the flour. I’ll take a look at your recommended recipe too, as faster and less flour is always favourite!
      As for the work, well, it was strenuous, but I felt quite joyful about it at the time, having renewed energy and agility these days. And the visible signs of my labour were very gratifying too; so often you work hard and there’s little to show for it.

  14. jmcheney says:

    Your beautiful biscuits are not nothing, Kate. And i’m from biscuit country – Kentucky! And I live now in North Carolina. My Daddy ate his biscuits with butter & “sargum” (sorghum molasses), Mama & my brother ate their’s with sausage gravy & I eat mine with butter, & jams, or country ham, when somebody makes a Ky. ham run. I could eat biscuits every day of my life, hot or left over cold & plain. And I say you have accomplished a great deal inside & outdoors, while I’ve been sitting here reading all summer……zzzzzzz.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m very glad to have the expert tick of approval! Yes, warm and buttered with ham is tasty. Actually, what I’d love to try is with poached egg and hollandaise sauce, topping a slice of ham 😛

  15. Biscuits–YUM! They are a favorite of my husband, who is from the southern part of the United States, where such things are a necessity to life and happiness.

    • katechiconi says:

      I can well understand his feelings! If anyone had told me before how easy they were, I’d have made them sooner. My husband isn’t that impressed, he prefers savoury French toast for breakfast!

  16. carol T Craig says:

    Hello, Katie from Memphis, TN. I couldn’t have described sausage and biscuits better myself. And, it sounds like you replicated the dish very nicely. The one detail I would suggest is to make the gravy with the grease from the cooked sausage. Add equal amount of flour to the hot grease, Stir to combine well and cook a few minutes before adding the liquid…Was always whole milk in my childhood. But it can be water, if times are hard. Not a hardy breakfast eater myself, I have often ordered biscuits and gravy while the husband eats the super/giant breakfast of three eggs, etc.
    If you’re really into Southern breakfasts, I’ll look for my mom’s brains and eggs recipe that she made for my dad on special occasions.

    • katechiconi says:

      Yes, using the sausage grease was the method, leaving just enough in the pan to soak up the flour, and adding just enough milk to make the gravy smooth, but neither too thin nor too thick. I like a hearty breakfast, but although I like brains, I think I’d draw the line at having them for breakfast… Now, crispy bacon and fried apple with my biscuits, sausage and gravy, that’s another story!

  17. Your biscuits are beautiful! We can get ground pork here in a package without the casing but I will always prefer brown meat gravy to milk (yuck) gravy. Those kind of biscuits really deserve honey or jam though. 😉 Scones are a whole other thing here. More varieties and ways of making them than flowers in a nursery.
    I’m not surprised you have figured out how to make more room to get the caravan parked. You wouldn’t be you without a challenge to work through. It’s what I like to do too. 🙂 Always thinking on how to make things easier or better.
    Still love the twilight quilt. It’s just beautiful and I love the colors. I have sewing to do but not sure when it’s going to get done. Sigh. Maybe today a little.

    • katechiconi says:

      I love a good meaty gravy too, and before this I wouldn’t have called milk gravy ‘gravy’, but to each her own, and I can usually find something to love and respect in the cuisine of others 🙂 Being of an ‘energy-saving’ habit of mind, I’ll always look for the easiest solution to a space problem, and it does seem as if this one will pay off.

      • There is a lot of southern cuisine that I love after spending so many years down there. Hush puppies and fried clams and Iced tea were part of that. Much of the mid-west leans that way too. Since I’ve lived in so many places, I’ve adapted as best I can. When in Rome… You know. My mother was not fond of milk in anything so we learned some very bad habits. I’ve made that gravy for my last husband and son but won’t eat it. Now beef gravy over potato balls or Spaetzle is more to my liking. I agree, we need lots of variety. It would be so boring without it. Glad the space problem worked out.

  18. Marty K says:

    You’ve been incredibly busy! The quilt is stunning (and totally the color palette I would choose if I were making a quilt for myself)!

    The biscuits look delicious. I sometimes use buttermilk or a spoon or two of plain yogurt for a little extra tang in mine. Here’s a link to a homemade breakfast sausage video that’s become our go-to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24hA3dD8SjM The sausage is made with pork mince and I can vouch for its deliciousness both with and without the orange zest. Also, I usually just add a little ground sage instead of the herb blend he uses.

    We’ve made sausage gravy from this recipe too — just brown the loose sausage, pull it out of the pan (depending on how much fat there is, you can blot up some from the pan with a paper towel), add an equal amount of flour to the drippings in the pan and cook off the flour for a minute or so, then add cold milk to make a gravy, add the sausage back in and simmer for a few minutes and pour over the split biscuits. (Sorry, I go by eye, so no measurements for the gravy.)

    • katechiconi says:

      I’d have used buttermilk for the biscuits if I had it, but it’s not something I regularly use so i don’t have it in the house. I’ll definitely follow up that breakfast sausage link, because the Husband has shown definite interest in the idea! You’ve described pretty much my own gravy method, and I would save the sausage grease for frying something else later – fat is flavour, after all!

  19. magpiesue says:

    Those American biscuits look perfect! Makes my mouth water. I was never keen on gravy with soft, fluffy biscuits. Butter and/or jam was sufficient. Oh for the days when I could indulge in such things! Twilight is looking beautiful too. What a lovely quilt that will be. ❤️

    • katechiconi says:

      I warmed up the leftovers and had them with butter and ham the next day. I’d have preferred honey or jam, but well, blood sugar and all that. Twilight is proving to be an amazingly trouble free quilt to make, but at the moment I’m having to find an hour here and there to work on it.

  20. kymlucas says:

    You sound like you’ve been quite busy! The quilt is lovely, and the biscuits look beautiful. Although I never make biscuits now, they — along with muffins and cornbread — were quite the mainstay of our evening meals when I was young. (And, btw, cornbread should not be sweet — no matter what anyone tells you).

    I seem to recall having some kind of sourdough biscuit starter, kept in the fridge, that had to be used or it would explode. I did a search, and it appears sourdough starters are somewhat interchangeable between biscuits and bread?

    Ane although I’ve never made sausage gravy, I love biscuits and gravy! Guess that’s because my dad was a southerner, and my mom (who taught me how to cook) wasn’t. 🙂

    Here in Ohio, I’m gearing up to make my annual batches of hot pepper jelly, which I will have to squeeze between two weekends away and my work schedule. Then, it will be zucchini salsa, and maybe (if I end up with too many tomatoes and enough time and motivation) some canned tomatoes.

  21. Speaking from the region of the southern United States, your biscuits look delicious!

  22. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    What a stunning quilt you are making !!! Love the colour. As for baking, I rarely do that cos most things are far too calorie rich. But my granddaughter always begs me to make cookies together but she and her brother do the best they can eating them 😀

    • katechiconi says:

      I don’t bake much any more either, but with this recipe you only make a few, and when they are gone, that’s it. If you buy bread, it’s there till you finish it! I hope I’ll find a balance some time between taking care of my diabetes and still enjoying tasty food!

  23. Susan Nixon says:

    I really like Twilight and I’ll bet those biscuits were delicious. Nice and fluffy.

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