One of my fondest memories is learning to cook with all the many women that influenced my life.
During many of the summers growing up my brother and I would go to Alabama to visit my Aunt Cara and Uncle Kenneth on their peanut farm. Most days my cousins and I would go swimming in the quarry down the road. Sometimes I would stay back with my aunt, I was the youngest and my cousins didn’t really mind when I stayed behind It just meant that they didn’t have to watch me. Aunt Cara was my favorite aunt and she had to be the best cook I have ever known and there were a lot of good cooks in my family. One of my favorite things to do was look through her pantry there were always jars of fig preserves made from her own fig bushes with just the right amount of sweetness perfect for slathering on buttered biscuits. And, bread n butter pickles, fresh jars put up each summer with cucumbers and onions from her garden. I loved helping her in the kitchen I would stand on a chair and stir the bubbling pots of venison stew and add big chunks of homemade butter to the creamed corn that she had cut off of the cobb and then scraped to get all of the milky goodness out.
My grandmother would be there often, I loved spending time with her as well. I remember when she taught me how to make biscuits, she pulled out a big white Tupperware bowl with a cover on it removed the cover and explained, “you always need to keep a sack of self-rising flour in a big bowl like this to make biscuits”. Then she added a scoop of lard to the center of the flour and began working it with a fork until it looked like beads. Next, she made a well in the center with her fist and added a glass of buttermilk to the well and worked it into the flour and lard until it was just the right consistency. She then had me feel the dough so that I would know what it should feel like, it was soft but firm and felt wonderful in my hands. “Don’t work the dough too much or the biscuits will be tough and tough biscuits are no good” she said. Then she pulled a small amount of dough off and formed it into a fat hockey puck and placed it into a hot oiled iron skillet. “Now you do the rest”, she said, she sprinkled flour on my hands so the dough wouldn’t stick to my fingers it was soft and cloud like I loved the way it felt as I finished forming the biscuits and placing them in the pan. We placed them in a hot oven and 12 minutes later we pulled them out, crisp and golden smelling of butter and milk. She opened one up and placed it on a plate then added a pat of butter to each side and drizzled molasses over the whole thing. I sat and ate that mound of warm deliciousness dripping with molasses on every bite while she finished making dinner. I think she could have made filet minion out of shoe leather if she had to.
Here is the recipe that my grandmother taught me, and my mom used for her biscuits, I found it hand written in my motheries very first cookbook, the one she received as a wedding present from my Aunt Cara. I have included my updated version, it is much healthier.
1/3 cup lard
2 cups self rising flour
3/4 cup fresh buttermilk
Cut the lard thoroughly into the flour and add the milk. Incorporate just enough to make a firm soft dough. dip your hands in flour, pull off a piece of dough and make a round ball with it then place in a greased iron skillet. Repeat until all dough is used. Place in a preheated 450′ oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.
1/3 cup grass-fed butter
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk or kiefer
Follow the directions above.