November 25, 2016

Grandma's Biscuits

It wasn’t often, but when I was growing up, occasionally my mother allowed me to spend the night with her mother who lived across town from us. Those times spent with Grandma are among my most fondest and exquisite memories, beginning with her four poster bed. Grandma had two mattresses on top of a box spring appropriately adorned with a dust ruffle, sheets, quilt and a luxurious fruity smell. I always felt like a princess when I mounted the stepstool to get in it.

After a night of happy dreamland slumber, I would awake to grandma already busy in the kitchen, pork chops frying in the skillet, grits simmering on the back eye of the stove. She always wore a tattered ruffly apron tied around her rotund waist. It seemed she would wait until I got in the kitchen to begin work on her famous biscuits. I would watch her scoop the flour from the silver metal container that had bold black block letters F-L-O-U-R written vertically down the front. She would sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, knead in the Crisco, add buttermilk and more flour, if needed, then shape it into a perfect non-sticky ball. Next, she would spread a patch of flour onto the wooden table top, put the ball on it, grab the rolling pin, and roll the dough out. Then, she would take one of those colorful aluminum drinking cups she had, turn it upside down, dip it in the flour, and allow me to use it to cut out perfectly shaped biscuits and put them into a greased pie pan. She would roll the leftover dough into a ball and repeat the process until there was not enough dough left to cut out any more biscuits. Then she would just press what was left over into a bubbly shaped hoe cake, put it in the middle of the pan, and pop the pan into the oven. Afterwards, she would turn her attention to making onion gravy with the pan drippings from the pork chops. Before I knew it, I was eating the most scrumptious breakfast while drinking some milked-down sugared-up coffee and laughing and talking with Grandma. Afterwards, I dried the dishes while Grandma washed them.

Later in the morning, or maybe it was afternoon, the sun would be high in the sky. Grandma would pull a big white handkerchief from her bosom, give me a shiny nickel and a few pennies, and send me to the corner store. Her instructions would be explicit! I would use the nickel to buy a small container of peach snuff. (It had to be the green can with the peach on the front or she would send me back to the store to return it.) And the pennies would be used to buy a squirrel nut and some banana splits, my favorite candies. I would return to the house to find Grandma sitting in her rocker with an old tin can beside her on the floor. She would open the snuff and put a wad of it into her mouth, occasionally spitting into the can. I would lie on that magnificent bed, eat candy, and watch television. Later in the afternoon, we would take that hoe cake, break it into pieces, pour some syrup on it, add some fried fatback, and continue our conversation.

I am so thankful for Grandmas. They know how to treat you like a princess because they themselves are royalty!