Please forgive me, for I have become biscuit backslidden.
I’ve become lazy.
If my grandmothers and great grandmothers were still here, they’d be ashamed. They’d send me out of the kitchen to the back yard to fetch a switch.
My entire family heritage was on the line, and I’ve failed.
I have committed the ultimate Southern sin.
I’m eating canned biscuits.
Not only am I eating canned biscuits, I’m eating them as if it’s OK to be eating canned biscuits. As if it’s normal. As if I have no shame.
The purity of a Southern breakfast hinges on homemade biscuits. My grandmother could make a batch from scratch in the same time it would take you to throw three canned biscuits into a Piggly Wiggly grocery cart, wheel it to the checkout, collect your change, receipt, and Green Stamps, and load them into the Buick Electra 225 Limited.
She could make biscuits from scratch while babysitting 10 grandchildren, spanking two at the same time, and never missing a word of what Hugh Downs said on the Today Show.
And here I am whopping a can on the corner of the counter, dropping eight pre-made circles of dough into a skillet, and calling myself a biscuit maker.
Well, I do have shame. And I’m here with a hatful of repentance, and a new commitment to change things – for the biscuit better.
Here’s the problem. I can’t remember how my grandmother made her biscuits.
One thing I do know is that she didn’t use a recipe or measure anything.
Watching her make them was like watching one of those Asian chefs with a set of Ginsu Knives make a meal so fast that you were certain when he finished you’d see one of his fingers missing.
My granny made biscuits with the same speed and accuracy.
When I called my mom to ask how to make them, she also doesn’t use a recipe. She just makes them. No idea how much flour, salt, shortening, etc., (you get the picture).
The only way I could rectify this would be to drive to Arkansas and spend a few mornings observing her make biscuits before taking a turn myself to learn how to make real, Southern, bonafide, died-in the-wool, ain’t no substitute, better-than-Friday-night-football, homemade biscuits.
I’m talking about the Grade A-type of biscuits that you can drag through a Corelle Ware plate of sorghum molasses, with a pat of butter mashed into it with a fork, and the biscuit doesn’t tear in half. Yet, when you take a bite, that biscuit with molasses is such a soft and smooth eatin’ experience, you feel a little bit closer to Heaven.
A biscuit that can hold three sausage patties and not crumble when you take a bite.
A biscuit that can absorb not just some of that honey you got from the neighbor who raises bees, but a chunk of his honeycomb too.
Everywhere I spent the night as a kid, the lady of the house always made homemade biscuits for breakfast. Sometimes, there were eggs and bacon too, but always, there were biscuits.
You’d wake up in the morning to the smell of ‘em baking in the oven. Most often, they were baked in a cast iron skillet. Sometimes, that skillet was flat, while the rest of the time; it was a standard skillet that she, later that day, would often use to fry up one of the chickens in the backyard.
That, I think, was the key. The biscuits were baked in cast iron.
Sadly, I not only don’t know how to make good biscuits, I’ve also just settled. I’ve allowed the evil, canned biscuit marketers on TV to convince me that, somehow, these tubed slices of dough are acceptable.
They sold them as “easy,” and “convenient,” and “flaky.” They’re flaky, alright. The marketers, I mean.
I’m also flaky for allowing myself to go down a path that’s taken me away from my homemade biscuit roots.
Yes, I have fallen far, but you can help.
With the pandemic going on, traveling to my mom’s in Arkansas isn’t an option. So, I’m turning to you.
I’m looking for homemade biscuit recipes. Whether the recipe is yours, your momma’s, grandma’s, great grandma’s, or even from one of the fellas in your family.
I’m counting on you to help me turn away from the Pillsbury path I’ve been on, and assist me in returning to biscuit basics.
You can email me your recipe through my website at www.TheCountryWriter.Com. When you get to the website, click on “Contact.”
I may share your recipe on my Facebook page or in a future column.
Thanks in advance for helping a country boy find his way home. With my right hand raised to Martha White, I swear I’ll can the store-bought biscuits.
©2021 John Moore
Email John at John@TheCountryWriter.com. To buy his books, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, or listen to his weekly John G. Moore 5-Minute Podcast, visit TheCountryWriter.com.