I heard four of the saddest words not too long ago. Words that made my heart weep.
“Nobody bakes biscuits anymore.”
What??? As I asked around, I found out that there are still some women who bake biscuits, but they do it more for special occasions, or only once in a while. Some of them will tell you yes, they bake them—as soon as they whack them on the side of the counter and pull them out of the tube. Sorry, folks. Those things just aren’t real biscuits. Around here, we have Biscuit Monday. Every Monday morning, I bake a double batch of biscuits. These are divided into groups – four for neighbors, one for Lorea, and one for the Country Boy and the other guys at the Pit. You just can’t start your week off right without them.
To me, biscuits are the soul of Simply Living. They are a symbol of everything that is held dear. Biscuits are basically bread, and in John 6:35, Jesus tells us He is the Bread of Life. Here on the Plantation, we fully understand that we do not move, live, survive or even exist without Him.
Biscuits are the epitome of a simple life. They express all the things listed under that category – cooking from scratch, creativity, nourishment, and if the smiles on the faces of those who are eating them tell you anything, sheer joy and happiness.
Biscuits help us rise to the occasion – it takes a leavening agent (baking powder and/or soda) to make them rise up to their full potential. We all need some type of encouragement to get up every morning and start our days. It can be a job, a family, a day of fun, or for us, it is animals, gardens, or fence that needs fixing. Since we absolutely love living on this farm that is all the encouragement we need.
Biscuits cut to the heart of the matter – Mrs. Dot is probably rolling in her grave right now, but I do not ‘choke and roll’ my biscuits. I flatten out the dough and use a biscuit cutter. Even then, my biscuits are never the exact shape and size – each one has its own ‘personality’, but they all taste the same. Not one of us are made the same and we all have our own way of doing things (just try to count all the biscuit recipes out there). But when the biscuits hit the pan, so to speak, the jobs all get done, and get done well.
Biscuits scream for a little touch of sweetness. There is no place better to showcase all that homemade jam and jelly that you put up over the summer than spread across a piping hot biscuit. Split it open, spread on a bit of butter and watch it melt. Then grab a spoon and plop on a dollop of Plum Jam. Put the lid back on, and take a big bite. You may want to use your other hand as a drip tray, though. Otherwise, you will be spending the next few minutes cleaning butter, jelly and biscuit crumbs up off the floor. What? Who has time to grab a plate when you are staring at a pan of biscuits that just came out of the oven? Where is the fun in that?
There is an art to baking biscuits. You need to use fresh ingredients. Without that, the biscuits won’t rise. You need to blend ingredients in order. If you add the shortening before the soda, salt and baking powder, those valuable ingredients will not incorporate properly. You need to use a gentle hand. Want to know the great secret about baking biscuits? The less you handle the dough, the lighter and fluffier they will be. I use my hands and a fork, and just before all the buttermilk is incorporated, out they go onto the board to be cut. You also need to cut your biscuits as closely together as you can, because you only get one more shot at it, and only then if you mix the scrap dough together as gently as possible.
Need a lesson in Simply Living? Go bake some biscuits. Take your time. Follow the directions. Keep it fresh. Be gentle. Add a little sweetness. Then sit back and enjoy. Life just doesn’t get any better than biscuits.
(sorry about the photo – I intended to take a shot of a full pan, but around here, biscuits go faster than a camera click!)