BISCUITS IN BIRMINGHAM

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First, let me offer sincerest apologies for my absence from this blog to the three people (you know who you are) who may or may not actually have wondered where in God’s name I’ve been these past few months.
Second, let me come clean. Back in June 2013, I launched Tales of a Recipe Goddess as a response to being laid off from Food & Wine Magazine, where I worked in the test kitchen for nearly 20 years. Recipe Goddess was my F&W twitter handle and a little cringe-provoking for me, but it was not completely inaccurate and so, it sort of took roots. There, I wrote dozens and dozens of stories, developed thousands of recipes and tested many thousands more. Recipe Goddess or Recipe Workhorse? The latter doesn’t sound nearly as nice…
Out of some sense of embarrassment or lack of courage or more likely the fear that without F&W I’d lose my credibility as a chef and food writer, I purposely left my employment status more than a bit ambiguous. How could I let on that I’d been EX-ed out of the very institution that I lovingly helped build and that helped build me? I remember the giddy sense of pride in seeing my name on the mast head for the very first time. I also remember the crushing sense of failure and disappointment when I realized September would be my last.
See, that’s the problem with growing up in a job—it’s not like graduating from college and being faced with a rosy, bright future. When it’s over, you find yourself middle aged, wondering “What the Hell am I going to do now?”. When you’re 25, the long hard slog is a journey, full of interesting and inspiring detours, but when you’re 52—without the luxury of time, that long hard slog is just that. A long…hard…slog.
Unless of course you can find a way to embrace that change, take a deep breath and  look at your new status as a blank slate—a sort of liberation from who you thought you were and what you thought you could or couldn’t do. More than that, develop an almost militant drive to do exactly what you really, really want to do.
Taking stock is a lot harder and more time consuming than making stock, and it doesn’t happen overnight. For me, it took months and months, but it led me to a few revelations—not bad for an old broad. Revelation #1: Ambition is not a bad thing when used without sabotage. Revelation #2: There’s plenty to go around—even in this economy. Revelation #3: Openness sparks opportunity and opportunity sparks options and options are a very good thing.
Which leads me to why i’ve been so blog-negligent since October. Re-invention is a process and every aspect of my career needed some re-evaluation. Food styling was how I initially came to F&W and it was something I loved to do, but my styling book was a little out-dated. So, in order to modernize it, I began testing with photographers, which led to several styling jobs.
Re-establishing old and building new work relationships took considerable time and effort. Gradually, through those efforts as well as recommendations from others (greatly appreciated!), I’d been contracted to write articles for a number of very popular national magazines and websites. Maybe I didn’t lose much credibility post F&W, after all. And then, in early October, I was approached by the producers of IFC’s hit show, Portlandia, to create the recipes for a Portland-focussed cookbook, centered around key episodes from the show. Like all of publishing, the turn-around on the book was INSANE and so I buried my head and knives into the project.  It was by far the funnest project I’ve ever worked on and until now, I couldn’t share it with you. It’s slated for a fall release, and as the date nears, I’ll keep you posted.
Till then, remember some key phrases: “Cacao!” and “Is it local?”
At that time, I was also recruited by Oxmoor House, Time Inc.’s Lifestyles Books division to lead their test kitchen and food styling teams to help create a new paradigm in their food department. It’s so exciting I can barely contain myself! I start on Monday and am ready to dive in head first. Located in Birmingham, Alabama, needless to say, this dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker will be learning a few new tricks—never a bad thing for any one of any age. But with my lovelies back home, I’ll be flying back and forth to Brooklyn weekly. So, yes, I’ve been a little busy (and will continue to be so) and my blog-life has suffered. But not for long—I imagine there’ll be tons of material here! When life throws you a curve ball, make biscuits—and if you’re in the South, they damn well better be good.
Buttermilk Biscuits
makes  twelve 2 1/2-inch biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and chilled
3/4 cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In  a large bowl whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and using 2 table knives or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it is the size of small peas. Add the buttermilk and stir just until moistened.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Pat or roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and using a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, stamp out as many biscuits as possible. Gather the scraps and cut out more biscuits. Arrange them on a large baking sheet and brush the tops with buttermilk. Sprinkle with salt and bake in the center of the oven until risen and golden, 16 to 18 minutes.
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28 thoughts on “BISCUITS IN BIRMINGHAM

  1. Pingback: BISCUITS IN BIRMINGHAM | Grace Parisi

  2. Thank you for sharing Grace! I am in shock over what happened with F&W.. I assumed you had left them. Your recipes were what led me to subscribe to F&W in the first place actually. I still remember the first recipe I made of yours, a roasted salmon & bread salad (circa 2008ish). I must’ve made it a hundred times. And since then, I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve googled ‘grace parisi chicken’ or beef, or pretty much any other ingredient. I was so pleased to find out that you had a blog & enjoy reading your stories & new recipes. I look forward even more to reading about your new endeavors & I wish you the best! When I was let go from my (previously thought to be) dream job, my boss said to me, “The Chinese symbol for crisis is the same symbol for opportunity.” Years later, I can see how that’s the truth.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words, Denise! Having such lovely readers is truly what keeps me going–it’s what allowed me to connect to so many wonderful people through F&W. I hope that will never end! With thousands of recipes on their website, it’s hard for me to remember them all–but that one–the salmon-bread salad–I remember! So happy you liked it!

  3. Congratulations cuz!! Wondering where my much anticipated Recipe Goddess emails went!!You are going to rock Birmingham! Hugs! Megan

  4. Grace: Wishing you all the best in Birmingham! 2014 is going to be your year I predict. I made your apple pie for thanksgiving & Scott declared it the best he ever had.

    I’m at crunch a lot now (running on the dread mill again). I still think I’ll run into you most mornings ;-).

    Best, Teresa

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. Goddess Grace,
    Welcome, from one NYer to another, to the wonderful world that is Time, Inc-Birmingham. You’ll be working with some really great people. (Oh, and me. That is, you’ll see my book which is in the works there, and also, I am down there now and then for various projects ). But mostly, I just want to let you know that however jarring the change has been with you, the gold folk in B’ham will make it as smooth as can be. I’m looking forward to our paths crossing!
    Your Loyal Subject,
    Marge

    • Thank you Marge! Still in my 1st week and starting to get settled. You’re so right–the people here are terrific. & yes I can’t wait until our paths cross. Looking forward to seeing your book!!!

  6. Grace, you really are a goddess! This post fills me with hope, happiness, and pride to know ya! This is your time!! Xoxo

  7. I am so glad to find this blog! I have subscribed to F&W for several years, and I realized that whenever I saw ‘Grace Parisi’ on the recipe, the recipes were awesome. Every issue, I began looking for your name to help me decide what to try…and then your name was gone. “Maybe she’s on vacation”, I hoped. But then I checked the masthead. Hmmmm…so today I finally googled “where is grace parisi” and it lead me to your blog.
    GOOD FOR YOU for keeping your chin up and your options open. I hope that those of us who love to cook and eat but need a solid recipe to get us there will still be able to find you and your remarkable way with a recipe.
    Good luck to you, and throw us a bone once in a while…!
    Lucy Rogers
    State College, PA

    • Thanks so much, Lucy! What a boost to read your comments!! I always wondered whether anyone would miss me or if by slow accretion I’d be a memory–it’s great to know that at least 1 person noticed! 😉 thanks a million! I plan on posting regularly again while working on books. Stay tuned!
      Super best,
      Grace

  8. Congratulations!

    I’m so happy I found your blog. At my house we love your grilled eggplant parmesan, and several other recipes of yours in F&W stood out to me as I learned to look for your name. Looking forward to that Portland book and discovering your recipes in new outlets, including this new-to-me blog. Good luck to you in Birmingham!

    • Thanks so much Ileana. I;m so glad you liked that eggplant parmesan! It’s cool because it bakes free-form on a baking sheet and not in a baking dish. How I came up with that one, I can’t even remember. Oh well, i hope to have more recipes for you to enjoy!! Stay tuned…

      best,
      Grace

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