Sunday, February 7, 2010

What I learned because of Book Club

I hostess a tiny little book club once a month in my home. There are four of us. We read a book, gather together, discuss it for 5-10 minutes, eat something rich, then visit for an hour.




A couple of books ago, we read The Diary of Mattie Spenser, by Sandra Dallas. Before I go on, I have to say that all four of us LOVE Sandra Dallas, and we're all reading her other stuff left, right and sideways. She's the bee's knees, y'all. Check her out!

Ok, back to Mattie Spenser. In that story, Mattie mentioned adding salteratus to her biscuits. I remember salteratus being mentioned in other books about pioneer life, but it was one of those words I never looked up - I just sort of glossed over it, figuring it was an ingredient...maybe salt? It never really seemed to matter that much.

I don't know if it's because I have a child and want to set a good example, or if it's because I'm the youngest person in the book club and I don't want to be ignorant, but I've gotten into the habit of looking up more words. My dictionary is just full of them! But...not salteratus.

So I looked around online. Merriam-Webster? Nothing. Nada. Cambridge online? Zilch.

So I searched via swagbucks. After digging through several sources that didn't help much, I found some that did, and now, I know more about salteratus than I ever needed to.

I'll condense it for ya - salteratus is baking powder. You really do learn something every day.

The big lovely benefit of my inquiry is that I learned how to make aluminum free baking powder. I had been buying Rumford's in the little red 10 oz. can, but now I just whip up my own, any time I need it.

The recipe is simple. All you do is combine:

1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon corn starch

(If you need more you could use tablespoons instead of teaspoons - just keep the ratios the same.)

Every recipe I've seen says the corn starch is optional, but Rumford puts it in theirs, so I put it in mine. (Then...shhhh...I put my homemade salteratus in their pretty red can.) I was able to get half a pound of cream of tartar for $4 via the co-op I belong to, but I think you can get it in bulk at health food stores too - it'll be far less costly than buying it in a spice jar at the supermarket.

You know what the coolest part is? It works really, really well. My biscuits look like little skyscrapers...lightly brown, round tasty skyscrapers. Little skyscrapers that taste wonderful split, buttered, and spread with home-canned orange marmalade. mmmmmm....


This story has two morals.

1. Everyone should be in a book club, because the friendship and the rich desserts make it something to look forward to, even if you don't quite finish your book. If you can't find a book club, just start one! All you need is a coffee maker, a library and a couple of good recipes.

2. Always look up words that you don't know. You never know where it will lead.

Off to read the rest of Alias Grace (Margaret Atwood),
-Laura at TenThingsFarm


Prairie Farmstead Ponderings said...

Super-dee-duper! Thank you for sharing the recipe for the homemade baking powder, Laura. I have a tiny bit of Cream of Tarter left in that expensive spice jar ~ I'm off to find a better source...

Prairie Homemaker said...

I wish we lived closer! Your book club sounds delightful!
thanks for the lesson too. I kind of figured it was some sort of baking thing but I never took time to find out for sure.

tenthingsfarm said...

Thank you, dearies! I just love it when something ends up being easy, less costly, and more effective. :)

Karen said...

I didn't know that! And to think for all these years we've been paying a premium price for that. Thanks for sharing Laura.

Anonymous said...

You know I love all your posts but today's was great!
I really would love to start a bookclub.Were the ladies friends of yours before you started?
I might check into the one hosted at the library but I think I'd like a ladies only one and something similar to my general interests.
God bless,

tenthingsfarm said...

Hi, Karen! :)

Helen, I did know the ladies beforehand, in a sense. I was in Walgreen's and some of the women who work there were lamenting that the local book club (at a coffee shop) was on a night when they couldn't go. After we talked about it some, we just started our own group. One of the other ladies is from a swim class I used to go to, and most recently, my friend MaryBeth joined us. One of the Walgreen's ladies is taking art classes now instead (and we miss her), but we do like that it's a small group. My kitchen isn't that big, after all. ;)

Tell your library what you'd like. If they don't have it, they might start it, or they might let you 'run' it for them at the library! :)

Summer B said...

Loved this post! And those biscuits look gooood! You know I have a thing for biscuits.



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