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Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I was raised on homemade biscuits.As a little girl, I watched in amazement as Mama Nay would conjure up the delightful little personal-sized bits of heaven. She had this pantry in her kitchen, and one shelf was reserved for the old wooden trough-looking bowl thingie that she made her biscuits in. I never saw her empty it, though I'm sure she must have cleaned it out from time to time. When she would take it out of the pantry, there would always be a little flour inside. She'd pour out a new little mound of flour, then bore out a little hole in the middle. Next she would pour in some buttermilk, and then a little scoop of lard. Then right before my eyes, she would work those beautiful, arthritic hands of hers round and round, and with each pass, a little bit of flour from inside the mound would cling to the mixture, until it got to just the consistency she wanted. I was always fascinated by that. The mound itself never got "wet", it just somehow faded into the moistness until it formed the dough. Then she would break of a little piece, roll it between her hands, place it on the flat, black iron skillet and gently pat it down to just the right height. Oh no... no cookie-cutter biscuits in our house! Each little roll was made with love, formed and shaped to perfection. There's no telling how many biscuits were made from that wooden bowl, and countless hours were spent by her grandchildren and great grandchildren watching her work magic. She always made extra, and at any given time, there would be a plate of biscuits in her little jelly cabinet with a cloth thrown over it. Nobody ever went for want of a snack, not when there were biscuits and peanut butter around. By the end of the day, the plate would be empty, but tomorrow always brought with it a new batch to enjoy. There never was, and never will be, a pan of biscuits like Mama Nay made. Now my mom runs a pretty close second. Or at least she did back in the olden days. Nowadays folks don't use lard so much any more, and my dad likes a smaller, flatter biscuit than we used to have. So instead of two nice, big, fat, fluffy biscuits swimming underneath the white milk gravy, you have to have four. Four biscuits sounds like an awful lot, but not so much when they're practically bite sized. I'd be ashamed to admit how many of them I have actually eaten at one sitting. Because, though small, they still rank right up there with Mama Nay's in the taste department. Almost. Must be the lard. Add in some cream-taters and some red hot smoke-links, or some fried cubed steak... and you've got a meal fit for a king. Well, a southern king, anyhow. Heart attack on a plate, no doubt, but man, that's some serious good eatin', I don't care who you are! I my own personal self never quite got the knack of making biscuits. After my first few endeavors, there was no one to encourage me to try again. My biscuits were best used for target practice, or in some cases, could have been registered with the feds as legal weapons. I probably don't know anyone, at least from the south, who doesn't like a good biscuit. Whether it be used to sop up some soghrum syrup like my Pappy used to keep on hand, or to mop up what's left on your plate after dinner, to eat cold with peanut butter, or for toasting at breakfast the next morning. I pretty much never met a biscuit I didn't like. Well, except for the aforementioned failed efforts at my own cooking. Years ago, fast-food joints got on the breakfast bandwagon and started serving breakfast biscuits. Some of them are actually pretty good, and can be quite addictive. It's so easy to swing into the Bojangles or McDonald's and pick up a 99-cent sausage biscuit, or any other variety of delectable meat byproducts of their offering.

This morning, as we were bringing Corey home from the hospital, I decided I needed myself a biscuit. Whitney and Corey had eaten at the hospital, but I hadn't eaten yet, so I swung into the Bojangles for a quick fix. In and out really fast, I had just pulled back onto the highway, when from the back of the car came this tiny, pitiful little voice that said "I want a biscuit." Whitney and I just looked at each other, and Whitney called me a "mean Greemaw" for not getting poor little Leyland a biscuit. Then we just died laughing. It just never crossed my mind to get the little pumpkin a biscuit. And with a voice that got more pitiful with each sentence, Leyland continued, "I'm hungry", "Greemaw I want a biscuit". "Moooommmmyyy, I want a biscuit!" Well, after Bojangles, there's nowhere to get a biscuit. Whitney and I poked at each other about it (I mean after ALL, Whitney is her mama, SHE should have thought about feeding the little tyke!!!) We kept promising her something to eat when we got home, but right outside of Statham, came the most pathetic little whimper ever, like someone who has been starved on a desert island for three weeks, and like a weak little kitten, she said "Biiiissscuiiiiiittt". Bless her little heart. Thankfully, The Old House was still open and still serving breakfast, so I went in and got the little princess her own personal egg biscuit. Their biscuits are square, and huge, so once we were home, I cut it into fourths, and gave it to her. She was so weak from hunger she could barely lift it to her lips. After one bite, she was revived and ready to take on the world again. One bite. Can we say Drama Queen? She did go back later and nibble on it some more. At some later point, I was able to sit down and enjoy my delicious, cold biscuit from Bojangles.

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