Twenty-Seven Biscuits

image imageMother made twenty-seven biscuits for breakfast every morning.  The number wasn’t intentional; that was just how it worked out.   Her recipe wasn’t measured, just experience.  She started out by hollowing out a hole in the flour in her big biscuit-making bowl into which she plopped out shortening scooped by hand straight from the eight pound can and poured in an indeterminate pool of fresh cow milk.  Bravely plunging her right hand in, she squished the glob of shortening through her fingers, working it round till it gathered just enough flour.  She worked the dough carefully, never using all the flour,  thereby letting the gooey mixture adhere to the bottom of the bowl. I thought that looked horrible and never mastered the age-old biscuit making technique that had probably come to her through many generations.

                Once she was satisfied with her mix, she tossed it a time or two to coat with flour, and started pinching off biscuits, which she gave a quick roll or two in her hands before placing smooth side up on her biscuit pan. Finally, she buttered the top of each so they’d brown nicely and popped them in the hot oven.  About twenty minutes later, biscuits!  She always ended up with twenty-seven, though she never measured.  They were wonderful.  The flour-filled biscuit-bowl was covered and went back into the cabinet till the next baking, which would be supper if she didn’t make cornbread.

                I am a biscuit-making coward.  I measure and mix my ingredients in a bowl, dust them with a handful of flour, then pinch them off and roll them out in my hands.  I spray them with cooking spray rather than dipping a spoon in melted butter to butter the tops, but they are still pretty good. 

Age-Old Biscuit Recipe 

(Can be easily doubled or tripled)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2 ½ cups self-rising flour (For plain, add 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt PER cup)

½ cup vegetable shortening or softened butter

¾ cup milk (I prefer undiluted fat-free evaporated canned milk.  Note:  this is not the sweetened condensed kind that goes in desserts)

Cooking spray

Mix 2 ¼ cups self-rising flour with shortening or butter.  Stir in up to ¾ cups milk to make gooey, not drippy dough.  Should be about the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Use remaining ¼ cup to dust top of dough, turn dust again.  Pinch out small handful, about ½ cup and roll a time or two in your floured palms.  Turn best side up on greased baking pan.  Spray tops with vegetable or butter spray to enhance browning.  Bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes on center rack. Done when tops are starting to brown nicely and browning can be seen around edges.  Should yield 8-10 biscuits.

These can be rolled out on lightly floured surface and cut with a biscuit cutter if you prefer.  Don’t waste leftover dough.  Roll into strips, butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for five minutes.  Wonderful treat.  I have made entire batch into cinnamon sugar strips for a treat.  Watch carefully to keep from burning.

If you can stand the health risk, put your bacon in to bake on at the same time as your biscuits.  It will all come out perfect at the same time.

 

Miss Laura Mae’s House Part 14

biscuit and jam

I had been waiting all summer for Miss Laura Mae’s dewberries to ripen.  For weeks we had strolled down to check the progress of the berry patch right behind her barn.  She said berries loved manure.  It’s hard to imagine how anything loving something so stinky, but I couldn’t wait till they turned black.  While I was sneaking a couple to sample, her old dog sauntered up and lifted his leg on the bushes, convincing me of the value of soap and water.  I hoped they loved pee, too, ‘cause they’d just gotten a healthy dose.

Finally, one morning, she spread me two hot biscuits with fresh dewberry jam.  “I kept these biscuits hot just for you.  I wanted them to be just right for this jam.”  I don’t know that I’ve ever had anything better than those hot biscuits and that heavenly dewberry jam so sweet and tangy it almost made my jaws ache. 

“Oh, this is so good.”  I licked the jam that spilled to my fingers.

“It’s my favorite.  I’ll give you a jar to take home with you,” she promised.  “Don’t let me forget!”

“I won’t let you forget!  And no one else can have any of my special jam,” I blurted out in my greed.

“Well, maybe I better give you two jars so everybody gits a taste.” I could tell she was trying not to laugh.

 That seemed like a tragic waste of jam, but answered.  “Yes, ma’am.”  In my gluttonous imagination, I’d envisioned myself sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor, eating jam with a spoon straight from the jar.  Mother must have read my mind, because those jars found their way to the top shelf of the cabinet with the honey, coconut flakes, and brown sugar as soon as we got home.  I’d learned from sad experience, stuff on the top shelf was emphatically off-limits.  Not two weeks ago, I’d nearly broken my molars chomping down on white rice straight from the package, thinking I’d found coconut somehow left in reach.  When I was settled safely on the back steps with my messy snack, the conversation began.

“Well, how was your trip to Myrtle’s?” Mother began.  “I sure missed having coffee with you in the mornings.”

“Ooh, I did too!  It was fine, but I sure was glad to get home.  Myrtle’s a good woman, but she’s got kind’a snooty since she married Joe Jackson an’ he’s got a little somethin’.  Well, I guess she always was a touch snooty.  Mama always said her mama had her nose in the air.  I guess Myrtle got it from her.  She sure didn’t get it from me.  Anyhow, me an’ Myrtle didn’ coffee in the kitchen even one time.  Wednesday, while Myrtle was a’gittin’ her hair done, I slipped out an’ helped Thelma, the woman that comes in to help a couple of days a week. I got to know her last time I was there.   I cleaned the refrigerator an’ stove while Thelma was a’ironin’ so we had a fine visit.   Then I made sure the back door was locked and me an’ Thelma sat a few minutes an’ had coffee.  I probably wouldn’a had to lock the door with that yappy little dog o’ Myrtle’s, but I sure didn’ want Thelma to git caught a’settin an’ a’gittin’ in trouble on my account.   I’d brung her a pound cake from home ‘cause I remembered how much she loved the one I’d brought Myrtle the last time.  They are so much richer made with yard eggs and homemade butter.  Yeah, I always thought a lot o’ Thelma.  We had a fine visit.”

 

https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/miss-laura-maes-house-part-13/

Miss Laura Mae’s House Part 7

image

We could hear laughter as we opened the screen door. Miss Laura Mae and Miss Oly were dawdling over coffee when we walked in, tears running down their cheeks.

I stared, having no idea people could laugh and cry at the same time. “You ladies are having a great time. No don’t get up. I’ll get my own coffee. What in the world is so funny?” Mother wanted to know. They both took hankies out of apron pockets, wiping their eyes before cleaning glasses.

“It’s just so good to be together again after twenty-five years apart. Ory was just tellin’ me about her ol’ man comin’ in drunk an’ blackin’ her eye one night. Once he went to sleep acrost the bed, she took a bed slat to ‘im an beat’im black an’ blue.”

She gave me my biscuit as Mother shooed me out to my roost on the back step.

Miss Ory broke in, “Yeah, Harvey was a Holiness preacher but it didn’t keep ‘im from gittin’ loaded an’ chasin’ anything in a skirt of a Saturday night. After I beat ‘im, he was so sore he could’n’ hardly move the next mornin’when it was time for preachin’. He got up in the pulpit an’ said he’d been a’cuttin firewood an’ a tree fell on him. It was only the Lord’s mercy that saved him. I wasn’t gonna let him got away with that. I got up an’ testified askin’ to Lord to forgive me for tyin’ ‘im up in a sheet an’ beatin’ ‘im up so bad for tomcattin’ around.

I was gonna leave ‘im after that. I wasn’t gonna take no whoopin’ from no man, but his brothers come by after church. They was deacons an’ their daddy had been the preacher there till he passed. They said if I’d stay, they’d see Harvey did’n’ never lay a hand on me agin’ but I was still set on leavin’. Then all three of ’em’said they’d church me if I left, an’ I’d go to Hell. The little fellers was listening an’ set up a howl. ‘Don’t make my mama go to Hell!’

They was a carryin’ on so, I didn’t have the heart to git up an’ leave, with them a’scared I was ‘goin’ to Hell. No youngun ought to have to worry ’bout somethin’ like that.

They was good as their word. If Harvey got out ‘o line, they’d straighten ‘im out. Harvey was still a Heller,but he ain’t whooped on me ner the younguns no more an’ that’s all I keered about.

One time after we had a row, all of a sudden he calmed down an’ took me fish in’. We left the little fellers with his mama an’ walked down to the crick. He wanted to go out in his ol’ boat, even though he knowed I’d ruther fish off the bank. I could’n’ swin an’ I was a’scared o’water. He said he’d been gittin’ them fine white perch just off the point. I do love white perch. Anyways, when we got a ways out, he stood up an’ was a’rockin’the boat back an’forth till he tipped us over. I knewed he meant me to drown.

I heard later he was a’slippin aroun’ with that Garrett woman. I let his brothers know an’ they told him nothin’ better happen to me. Not long after that he had a stroke an’ needed me to take keer o’ him. Couldn’t of planned it better myself. He never was no more trouble to me, so it all worked out fine. I didn’ git churched an’ worry the kids, I still had my home, an’ Harvey could’n’ worry me no more. Things was peaceful after that, but I shore don’t miss puttin’on up with him ner makin’ them durn biscuits ever’ mornin’. I don’t aim to ever make another biscuit!”

To be continued

https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/miss-laura-maes-house-part-8/

Great Food

imageFor a hearty, satisfying breakfast, give this a try, homemade biscuits and sausage gravy.  Please note, I made no claims about calorie count or fat content, I just said hearty and delicious!  I simplified instructions for new cooks.

Linda’s Sausage Milk Gravy

Scramble one pound of breakfast sausage in skillet and brown slightly.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup flour.  Stir and smooth as it browns.  When sausage is not quite brown enough to serve, stir in 1 cup water to stop browning.  Stir until even consistency about like yogurt.  Stir in enough canned evaporated milk to get slightly thinner than gravy consistency.  Simmer 5-10 minutes, scraping skillet periodically to avoid burning until biscuits come out of oven.  It will get thicker as it simmers.  Taste before you season.  May be seasoned well enough from sausage.  If too thick, stir in a little more milk.  If you get it too thin, simmering will thicken.  Serve over hot biscuits.

Substitution:  Can make this gravy in bacon drippings.  Stir flour in hot (not flaming drippings.) Lower setting to medium.  Scrape bottom of skillet constantly with metal spatula as mix browns to mix well.  When the mix is smooth and slightly darker than mocha stir in about 1 cup cold water, stirring and scraping constantly.  Will steam and thicken quickly.  Add water or milk to dilute to gravy consistency. Whisk frequently and allow to simmer 5-10 minutes for smooth gravy. Season to taste.  May not need much salt.  Bacon is salty.  I like bacon gravy brown.  Adding milk to dilute makes gravy white, but you always need use water to gravy first to preventing scalding and curdling of milk.

Bud’s Biscuits(12 biscuits recipe can be easily doubled or tripled)

Get these in oven before you start gravy.

We use self-rising flour, but if you have all purpose, stir in 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt for each cup flour and mix well.

2 cups flour

1/2 cup shortening

8-10 ounces evaporated canned milk dilute or concentrated to your taste.(save remainder of can for gravy.)

Pre-heat oven to 400 and grease baking pan. Cut shortening into flour.  You can use spoon or pastry blender.  When it is well-mixed and you don’t see big, separate lumps of shortening.  Mix in about 7-8 ounces of the canned milk, if you need to, add just a bit more till mix resembles stiff mashed potatoes. Mix will not be smooth.  Be sure to mix in extra milk a bit at a time if you must.  Dough has to be stiff enough to roll out.  Dust flour over top of biscuit dough and turn onto lightly floured surface. A clean smooth dishtowel, wax paper, or bread board work well.  Knead three or for times till dough well-dusted.  You can get ready to bake one of two ways.  Either roll dough out about 1/2 inches thick, with rolling pin, folding about four times to make layered biscuits and then roll to 1/2 inch thick, cut and bake.  The other option is flour your hands, pinch off dough about 3/4 quarters the size of your palm, dip in a bit of flour dust and roll three or four times.  Put in pan smooth side up.  Butter tops and bake at 400 degrees on middle rack till tops are starting to brown.

After biscuits cool, save left-overs in ziplock bag.  They are great for about three days.  The gravy reheats well, too.

 

Breakfast With Barbie

BreakfastMother’s house was bedlam the morning after Daddy died.  Someone made a quick trip to the store for breakfast fixings for Cox’s Army while the rest of us pulled the house back together.  The term “quick trip” was relative, since the nearest grocery store was twenty-two miles away. It was a mess since we’d had to find beds for fourteen the night before, Continue reading

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5 Things to Make Me Feel at Home

imageI am most at home in my kitchen surrounded by few of  my most-loved  and well-used things.  As soon as I expect company, the tea-kettle and coffee-maker, both gifts from my daughter, are notified.  As water boils in my ancient copper tea-kettle, I grind coffee beans in the battered coffee-mill.   Soon tea steeps in the butterfly teapot a sister gave me while I fill my polka-dot chicken creamer and sugar bowl.  A plate of cookies, snacks or hot biscuits and a few flowers from my yard brighten the home-crafted drop leaf table my husband built.  The  tiny table-topper cloth came to me from another sister. Although in the past, I prided myself on newer things, these old favorites warm my heart today and say “Welcome,  Friend” like nothing else.

“Come on in and sit awhile.”

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Home Turf.”

Hongry Little Billy

imageMother and Little Billy walked over to have coffee with Miss Alice many mornings after she got us on the school bus.  Of course he would have had breakfast before leaving the house with her.  One morning they got to Miss Alice’s before she’d had time to clear breakfast away.  A couple of strips of bacon and a few biscuits rested on a plate on the Continue reading

More Gravy?

imageBud said his mother almost killed his ambition when he was a kid.  He asked her what was the difference in the food they ate and what rich people ate.

She explained, “Oh, we eat the same food.  They just have more gravies and sauces than we do.” Continue reading

Poverty, One Thing Money Can’t Buy

Old Mother HubbardLearning to get by was the best thing that ever happened to me.  Growing up on a farm, the second of five children, I learned responsibility, despite my best efforts not to.  We were all needed, just to get back.  With stock to feed, hay to make, gardens to care for, there weren’t too many idle moments.  That was before helping Mother in the house, Continue reading