Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday morning meditation

I have no idea as to the origins of the recipe. It may be some piece of folk wisdom, or a hallmark of domestic science handed to my mother by her high school teacher. It is equally likely that it came from the back of a bag or one of the hundreds of back issues of Good Housekeeping that clutter my grandmother's smokehouse.
It is certainly not my grandmother's recipe. I can't make them the same way that she does, as my hands are not the same size as hers and I don't own that wooden bowl that has been scuffed with flour since long before I was born. For her it's not so much a recipe, nor even a rote, as it is a process that her fingers execute without thought, like the complicated but invisible series of motions involved in standing up and walking.
When I'm done casting the spell my mother gave me, working an ordinary feat of practical magic, I have a pan of biscuits that's not exactly right, but that reminds me of the genuine article. I make them more like the authentic ones from my grandmother's kitchen by serving with the proper accoutrements: a mixture of peanut butter* and a syrup that I've never seen sold anywhere outside of Louisiana. At a meal other than breakfast, I might place them alongside black-eyed peas or butterbeans and chowchow.
I don't imagine my readers will be overwhelmed by these little loaves, as they will not evoke for them the memory of sitting on an rough wooden pew, salvaged from the Old Church and placed next to my grandmother's table. However, for those who would like to join me for a simple breakfast some Sunday morning, enjoy:

2 cups of flour
1T sugar
1t salt
1T baking powder

1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup milk

preheat oven to 450
mix dry ingredients
cut in butter
stir in milk
shape into 6 even balls
bake in a dark pan for 15 minutes, more or less

*My brother would wrongly use crunchy peanut butter and too little syrup, while some of my cousins would argue that the mixture requires warm butter. These notions are crazy if not immoral and are presented only as a cautionary example.
Also, if the reader can’t come by proper cane syrup, molasses may suffice in its place.

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