Random Food Gift #1

My biscuits are a work in progress. They usually taste great, but it's so hard for me to get them to rise! Rise up, O Biscuits! I try not to (wo)manhandle the dough too much, because I know that can lead to dense biscuits, but they still fall a bit short of the fluffy ideal that I strive for. If anyone has any biscuit advice, please do share it with me.

I came across this tasty pumpkin biscuit recipe in the Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook, and made them for my friend Andrea. We went to college together and lost touch until we discovered that we both live in the Baltimore area. Happy surprise! We went hiking on Sunday, along with our husbands, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to bring her Random Food Gift #1. Along with the biscuits, I included some homemade cranberry sauce jam. It's a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that was originally for cranberry sauce. I revised it a bit and simmered it long enough to turn into jam. It's tart-sweet and goes well on savory sandwiches or paired with neufchatel cheese on a whole grain bagel.

Pumpkin Biscuits

1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk*
1/2 cup canned pumpkin

Mix together flours through nutmeg (all of the dry ingredients). Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine buttermilk and pumpkin, add to dry mixture and stir just until moist.Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly five times. Roll dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into circles with 2.5 inch biscuit cutter (I used a wine glass). Gather up scraps to cut more circles. Place circles onto an oiled baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for about 11 minutes or until golden (my oven cooks biscuits in about 7 minutes, so don't stray too far while they're baking). Serve warm.

*To make your own buttermilk, combine 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with enough milk to equal 1 cup. Let stand 5 minutes.