Biscuits with the Boss: Tina Fey's "Bossypants"
I rapidly devoured Bossypants by the one and only Tina Fey. I almost feel like I shouldn’t be trying to write anything funny about her book because she is the funniest person there is. There is no one who is going to top Tina. Every bloody sentence in Bossypants will be amazing, but then there is a comma, and then something that heightens what was funny in the first half of the sentence. Then there is a period. Then you go back and re-read the sentence and see something new. She friggin’ KILLS me.
Really, reading this expecting to read something good and funny is like panning for gold and finding the Hope Diamond, Amelia Earhart and your dignity. My dignity. Come on, we’ve all lost it at some point, no?
If comedy were a matriarchy (people still seem surprised that women can be funny), Tina would be The Matriarch. And I suppose Amy Poehler would be her life partner. Or co-Matriarch. If only comedy were a matriarchy. One topic Fey touches on is gender bias in the entertainment industry. She talks about about how she got her interview for a writing position at Saturday Night Live in part because “only in comedy, by the way, does an obedient white girl from the suburbs count as diversity.” It is too true. To this day I see more men in improv groups, more men stand-ups, more men, more men, it’s raining men. NOT hallelujah.
However, lest we spend too much time bemoaning our gender, Fey makes a valid point that reminds me of how Patti Smith said she doesn’t think of herself as a “female artist”, just an artist. Fey says you shouldn’t consider the fight to get ahead as a competition against other women. You are competing with EVERYONE. Bossypants is part memoir of how Fey rose to the top, and part how-to book. You’ll find yourself learning how to become boss yourself.
Fey gives some pretty great beauty tips, too, that boil down to this: WHO CARES. I have nothing to add to that.
As for what to cook for my own self-appointed boss (Did you know you had that job now Tina? Do you not love the inappropriateness of me appointing my own boss?), I had quite a few alluring ideas as to what to make for Liz Lemon herself. There were the nachos Fey munched with her lesbian friends, but Homosexual Melted Cheese on Chips seemed like an inappropriate way to rep her. There was the popcorn being made before her interview with Lorne Michaels that she now associates with “stress, hunger and sketch ideas,” but I wanted to make something Tina might be able to relax with. She brings up biscuits a few times, once in reference to her love of the ones you get at Red Lobster, and once when talking about the bodily “defects” women try to fix, such as what she terms “crotch biscuits”, i.e. “the wobbly triangles on one’s inner thighs”. However, crotch-related food sounded gross and I didn’t want to go with a chain restaurant’s goods. I decided since I am the Boss of The Book Cook column, I could make whatever sort of biscuits pleased me. I settled on buttermilk biscuits. Upon which I recommend putting butter.
It gets even better. You should make these to eat while reading Bossypants. If you are the sort who is concerned about crotch biscuits, you needn’t worry. You will be laughing your ass off, and laughter both burns boatloads of calories and tones the abdominals to boot. I think this is proven by no one, but wouldn’t you like to try? Actually, scratch that. I am ordering you to make these. Who’s Boss now?
Biscuits for Bosses adapted from Baking Illustrated
- 3 Tbsp. powdered buttermilk
- about 3/4 cup cold filtered water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 8 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut up into 1/4 inch cubes
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Have an un-greased baking sheet handy.
Put the powdered buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup and add cold water until it reaches the 3/4 cup mark. Whisk like the dickens until it dissolves.
In a large bowl, whisk together everything else except the butter. Add butter and use a fork, pastry cutter, or your hands to cut the butter into the flour until you have a course mealy mixture. Some bigger lumps of butter should remain. Stir in the buttermilk/water mixture until a ball o’ dough starts to form. Do not mix too much, there should still be streaks of flour. Move the bowl’s contents to a floured smooth surface and if the dough ball comes apart some, reform into a ball. Remember, you are the boss of this dough! Cut it in half, then half again. Take each quarter and divide into 3 parts. Cup each part in your palms to gently make it into a ball. Don’t worry if they aren’t smooth or perfect, they will bake up flakey and delicious. Put them on the baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven until they are nicely golden and browned lightly on top, around 10 minutes, give or take. Eat em’ hot. They will almost fall into two halves in your hands, upon which you can lavish butter and jam. Give yourself a raise, you earned it.