|Ron's Buttermilk Biscuits|
My Mother married a hillbilly. Yep, dad was a hillbilly. Straight from the mountains or western North Carolina. His parents moved him and his eight brothers to Pennsylvania when Pop (that's we always called him) was ten years old. That was in 1930. Two more brothers were born in Pennsylvania bringing the total Tipton Boys to eleven.
|My Mom (pregnant with me), my grandmother Mrs. Tipton (sitting) and my Uncle Dude at the family mansion (not the washing machine on the porch - a hillbilly home decorating requirement) - 1941|
My father met my Mother in 1940 on a double date (he was the other date, not hers) when she was 16 years old. Several months later they eloped to Elkton Maryland on a Saturday, November 2nd. That Monday my Mom went back to school. It didn't take too long before my granddad found out my Mom got married over the weekend. He beat her and threw her out of the house. Mom was the "Cinderella" of her home. Her mother had died from complications of childbirth before my Mom was two years old. Mom was the youngest of her two brothers and sisters. They had all left home and only Mom was left with her (wicked) step-mother and her two children. Mom did all the cooking, cleaning and what not. Pop told her "I'm going to get you out of this mess." And he did.
|My grandfather with his third wife Margaret (oh, I remember her well, Gravel Gertie, she always scared me to death) and his stepson Bobby - 1934|
|My Mom with her two older brothers - she told me they tore the head off of her doll - an appropriate metaphor for her childhood -1928|
So what does all this have to do with biscuits you ask? Well, when Mom and Pop rented a house in a small house out in the country without running water or indoor plumbing, one of the first things her widowed mother-in-law told her was she was going to have to learn how to make biscuits. My grandmother said all "her boys need their biscuits" and if she wanted to have a successful marriage she would have to learn how to make authentic southern biscuits.
|Mrs. Tipton with ten of her eleven boys after the burial of Mr. Tipton, my grandfather - 1939|
My Mom would watch Mrs. Tipton (my grandmother) make biscuits and wonder "How would I ever make those crusty and cloud filled biscuits as effortlessly as Mrs. Tipton?" My Mom said Mrs. Tipton would fill a bowl with self rising flour, make a well in the center or the flour, then cup her hand and get a scoop of shortening (lard is the best) and drop it in that well. Then she would pour some buttermilk in the well and start to swirl the mixture around all the while squeezing the flour and shortening (lard) until a ball formed, all the while being careful to maintain a flour well.
|My grandmother - Hester Lewis Tipton - 1943 - she died in 1944 - I don't remember her|
My Mother told me it wasn't easy to "get the feel" of the flour and shortening mixture at first. There were many times when the dough mixture was too sticky or too dry. And when she baked the biscuits they came out as hardtacks. Good perhaps for a trans-Atlantic voyage on the Mayflower but not for Pop.
Finally, after months of trying my Mother "got it." She made perfect biscuits with effortlessly ease. For the next sixty years of her marriage, almost every day she made biscuits for Pop (and her boys) for breakfast and dinner.
Of course, being the proper Mama's Boy
|Me, "Mama's Boy" - gay from birth - 1942|
that I was, I wanted to learn how to make biscuits too! Well folks, let me tell you it wasn't easy. I have to be truthful and tell you I've never quite made them exactly the same quality as Mom's but I've come pretty close.
Here's my recipe for buttermilk biscuits:
2 cups sifted enriched self-rising flour
4 tablespoons shortening (lard the best but use Crisco - don't go there)
1/2 to 2/3 cup sweet milk or buttermilk
|Unbaked buttermilk biscuits|
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (very hot)
Cut shortening into flour until consistency of coarse meal. Add milk to make a soft dough, stirring with a fork until dough draws away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board or on wax paper and knead gently 8 to 10 strokes (don't go there). Flatten until desired thickness. Pull off dough into size of biscuits you desire and shape by hand into a ball. Place on non-stick cookie baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 450 degrees F until brown. Serve hot with butter. Enjoy!