Thursday, August 11, 2011

Well, Butter my Biscuit! MY Momma's Buttermilk Biscuits

Here in the south there are some things that just define the culture...
Some of those being the humidity (take note, southern women don't sweat, we "glisten")
The dialect (hun-neh and pah-dun, included)and especially important, the food.
And be quite certain there "ain't" no one that can serve it up like someone's momma or grand momma. Those of you that were not lucky enough to be born in the south can cook like one, with the proper instructions, mind you.
Today we are going to examine some of those essential and defining southern dishes. Pretty soon, you will be serving up a slice of cornbread and sweet tea like a southern belle.
Ok, almost....we still need to work on that drawl.
In the meantime....the food.
I hope to  introduce you to the fine art of southern cuisine... that being
Last week we chatted up my Five Generation Cornbread Recipe.
Today, it's the biscuits.
There are so many types of biscuits out there: buttermilk, drop biscuits, beaten and cat head to name a few. I grew up on butter milk biscuits. I remember Sunday mornings, often times mom would cook a big breakfast that included these. And if we were lucky, there would be left overs for lunch! Like my cornbread recipe, this biscuit recipe has been in the family for many many generations. My great grandma Idabell was taught by her mother, Idabell taught her daughter Buena, who taught her daughter Sharon, who in turn taught me to make these biscuits. One day I will teach my daughter how to prepare these simple, yet delicious and light tasting biscuit.
Now my mother only made these as the recipe states below, however, I think it would be perfectly acceptable to experiment and add some rosemary and thyme, or some shredded cheese like cheddar or blue crumbles, even some garlic butter on top of the cooked biscuits as they come from the oven. That's all up to you. I like them as they are, hot from the oven with just a bit of butter and honey.
Momma's Buttermilk Biscuits
2 Cups self rising flour
1/3 C shortening
3/4 C buttermilk
Blend first 2 ingredients with a fork or your fingers, then add the buttermilk. Blend to a doughy consistency. Flour a cook board or a towel lightly, placing dough down and kneading three of four times (DO NOT OVER KNEAD! This goes in Biscuits and in Life. Know a good thing and leave it be.) Flatten out with rolling pin or by hand. Cut out biscuits with cutter, if you do not have one-use a juice glass that has been lightly floured on the rim, or may I recommend, just cutting the biscuits with a goo knife, in squares. Squares are perfect for holding things like country ham or sausage, and you do not waste any dough! Bake at 450 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve HOT!
Just a couple side notes:
I recall the first time I had ever had  cat head biscuit. If you aren't familiar, it's a really large biscuit, made by using a large cutter. I was at a festival at Arlington Antebellum Home , the line for these biscuits was out the door of the big antebellum home. Every year, the same thing. It seemed as I grew, the biscuits became smaller. My mother agreed. I recall them being as big as a large saucer or mall dinner plate.
One of my most favorite books is A Painted House, by John Grisham. Set in the late summer and early fall of 1952, its story is told through the eyes of seven-year-old Luke Chandler, the youngest in a family of cotton farmers struggling to harvest their crop and earn enough to settle their debts. The novel portrays the experiences that bring him from a world of innocence into one of harsh reality. It is a great and easy read, I highly recommend it. I will say though, as I read this book, I yearned for biscuits the entire time. You will see why. If you read it, let me know what you think!

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