[On a run, October 2014.]
I finally downloaded a GPS running app for my phone and hello long runs, my old friends, I didn’t even know I was revisiting you until Runtastic told me so. 8.2 miles is my new weekend run and I’m happy to report that I’ve been running that occasionally for months thinking it was more like 6, maybe 7, miles. Predictably I overextended myself last week and ended up logging 24 miles total and damn, it felt good. Two years ago tomorrow I ran a marathon – missing a PR by three minutes – and so I will try to commemorate it in the morning by pushing myself just a bit farther even than the 8.2 if it doesn’t rain. I haven’t run more than 11 miles in almost two years; I can’t even believe that’s truth but it is. My love of going long has been well documented on this site and I get itchy when I can’t.
This past year has been sort of a blur and I cadged runs when I could (with more miles spent on the treadmill than I’d like to admit). Suddenly my birthday looms in three days and fall is churning on, carrying us relentlessly toward the close of 2014. I’d rather be running out to Arch Rock than dodging pedestrians and horses along the Corniche but beggars can’t be choosers and this is what I have to work with in my present reality. I remind myself at least there is an ocean within throwing distance even if it’s not my beloved Pacific.
Time was, fall was this perfect, ethereal thing marked by an absence of fog and trips to the coast and running, always running, through the blue of an October afternoon. Sometimes we went through the blazing day to drink pints at the bar in Tomales and I took photos of the boats in the bay as we drove past on Highway One. I picked lavender from my mom’s garden and put it into tarts and pots de creme and then wrote about it for NPR. We’d talk about going to the Russian River and renting a canoe, or getting kayaks from Blue Water and going out to Hog Island, or doing the community swim from Shell Beach again. The months seemed long, endless. When Indian Summer descended hot and heavy on San Francisco my Sunday runs were all the more delicious for the hit of sea breeze when I made it down to Ocean Beach. Sweaty and famished, we’d go afterward (post-shower of course) to Alamo Square Park to read the New York Times and eat sandwiches and ogle the dogs. Or we’d be in West Marin and would get coffees after logging our miles in the Seashore, nevermind the good trail dust sticking to our legs.
I romanticize because it’s impossible not to. (Hell, I romanticized when I lived there.) That was my ordinary life and it was almost unbearably sweet. Of course once the fog did roll as it inevitably did/does, your cursed your very existence and dug out scarves and down vests even in July and wondered why – why! – you thought living in a city perched between sea and bay was a good idea. Oh, right. Because it’s the last lovely city or at least the loveliest city for you. You best believe I never took it for granted.
Anyway, we had a good rainstorm here the other night that pushed out all the humidity (sort of – I’m learning this particular city and its houses are forever plagued with it to their detriment; paint chips and falls from the walls and wood sags and there’s apparently nothing to be done about it) and dense air for the space of a morning. It turned into a good day for soup and as I mentioned last week, the weekly pot continues to do us well. And as it follows, don’t you need biscuits for your soup? I think so.
These are again naturally gluten-free/flourless and composed of mainly brown rice flour and quinoa flour. Some may find quinoa flour to be too bitter; I don’t, but there’s an easy enough fix if you do: toast your flour for a half-hour on 200 F for about a half hour. Once cooled, use as your recipe dictates. For someone like me who truly loves quinoa with a fierce and abiding love I am trying to incorporate it, finely ground, into other dishes just to mix things up a bit. I was surprised with how these biscuits turned out – they are dense but not overly so and still fluffy enough to suit my finicky biscuit taste (read: they ain’t hockey puck-like). Maybe next time I’ll tell you about the quinoa chocolate chunk cookies that I like to pretend are ‘healthy’ because of the quinoa flour but, err, the butter might negate that belief.
But that’s why we run, right? At least in part — food tastes extra good when you have 10 miles at your back and the sun and wind in your face. Land’s End and the headlands feel so close I can almost touch them.
If you prefer butter, swap in the equivalent amount for the olive oil (or if you prefer vegetable or coconut oil go for that, too, but remember if you use coconut you’ll have that flavor here). Vegans, use cold non-dairy milk for the buttermilk with good results. If you’d like to make ‘vegan buttermilk’, put one teaspoon apple cider vinegar into your cup of ‘milk’ and let stand for 5 minutes before using.
Makes 6-8 biscuits
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons natural sugar (optional)
6 tablespoons olive oil, chilled in the fridge
3/4-1 cup cold buttermilk (or non-dairy milk)
Heat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bow, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar if using.
Add chilled olive oil and using a fork or your hands, rub it into the flour until the mixture is crumbly.
Pour in the cold non-dairy milk or buttermilk and, using a wooden spoon, stir until a dough forms (add a bit more milk if it’s too dry).
Turn dough out on to a clean, lightly floured surface. Roll dough (or press with fingers) until it is in a 1- inch thick rectangle.
Use biscuit cutter (or jar or cup) to cut biscuits into desired size and shape OR use a tablespoon to make drop biscuits.
Place biscuits on the baking sheet, place in the oven, and bake for about 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let sit on sheet for 5 minutes. Serve slightly warm.