On Biscuits

Love. This morning I made biscuits for breakfast. I have been practicing since shortly before Christmas. I started so that we could have a special breakfast on Christmas morning. I’ve learned that there is no external perfect abstract form for “biscuit”. If everyone served biscuits agrees that the biscuits are good, then you have made good biscuits. Because of this, I find it difficult to define measurements that will produce “biscuits”. It seems a process of exclusion, which is not what I would expect of a cooking recipe, though perhaps I did not understand cooking well enough. I have found many ways to not make biscuits.

I enjoy making biscuits. It’s something which I don’t do well, which is satisfying to me because I feel I can learn a lot from it. It is messy. I don’t mind the mess; I know how to clean the kitchen. One of the things I like about making biscuits is that I can hand-wash everything used in the production (except for the pans themselves) while the biscuits are in the oven. I think recipes should include cleaning times in the time estimates. I have learned that the act of food preparation does not feel truly done until the dishes are put away.

I enjoy making biscuits. I have fond memories of eating biscuits made by people I love. My mom learned to make biscuits from her grandmother. I knew my great-grandmother. I called her Mama King. She lived monetarily poor but with great joy. My mom told me how Mama King’s mother died very early in life. Because Mama King was the eldest daughter, she took over the work of running the household. The Kings were farmers, and to keep everyone fed, Mama King made biscuits every morning for her dad, all of her siblings, and whoever else happened to be near. She did not have much, but she was as generous as possible, and her biscuits were good.

I enjoy making biscuits. I have fond memories of eating biscuits made by people I love. My dad began learning how to make biscuits shortly after I left for college. I was surprised when I occasionally came back on the weekend and found my dad making biscuits instead of my mom. I can remember spending the night at my paternal grandparent’s house. I called my dad’s mother Grandma Barbara. I remember waking in what seemed the dark of night and hearing Grandma Barbara shuffle quietly down the hallway to start on breakfast. Grandma Barbara was a mighty woman, full of dignity and love. She was both intimidating and comforting, and I miss her dearly.

I want to learn to make biscuits to honor these women. I know they are just flour, buttermilk, and shortening, but it is a powerful reminder for me on where I came from. I want to teach my sons to make biscuits. I know they are just biscuits, but maybe I can at least tell them these stories to go along with the biscuit-making. And at the least, maybe we will continue to make good biscuits.

This morning I am considering a question. When I do not know a thing, I am humbled and feel calm when I can learn a fact. When I know a thing, I am confident and feel calm when I can express a truth. (I have learned it is good not to be arrogant so that I can learn when I do and do not know a thing.) These feel like opposites and the same. Amen.

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3 weeks ago

I use Alton Brown’s recipe – they are light, fluffy and delectable.  Shortening, butter, buttermilk…and carb-heaven.


@strawberryjelly Thank you for sharing this recipe. Peace to you.

3 weeks ago

I love homemade biscuits but it’s not something I have ever mastered or even come close to mastering…mostly because I don’t like the mess.  I agree that cleaning as you go is part of the process, or should be.

I LOVE a hot biscuit full of butter and some jelly or fig preserves…yummy!!

@happyathome I grew up on my grandfather’s farm. We did not get many visitors, but we did have some occasionally. They often dropped in at odd hours and unannounced, and almost always with a farm-related purpose.

“Your cows are out.” “My cows are out.” “Your fence is down.” “My fence is down.”

And often early in the morning, because that’s when they checked their fences. I have learned that farmers can be a cantankerous lot, but I never knew any that wouldn’t take their hat off and sit down when confronted with a hot pan of biscuits just taken out of the oven.

I never knew I would miss that life.