Saturday Mornings with Biscuits

Jun
5

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When I was growing up, Saturday mornings always meant biscuits with molasses. Homemade biscuits, of course. My mother was a biscuit maker. My biscuit mix is based on my mother’s biscuit recipe, which came from her mother before her.


In my Oklahoma grandmother’s farmhouse kitchen, there was a stand-alone cabinet with a big bin of flour over a sifter that was part of the cabinet. The flour bin held lots of flour, and even in Depression times, that was one thing farmers had in plenty. My grandfather would save wheat out of the harvest and take it to the mill to have it ground into flour. Because people were so poor, they would put it in printed materials instead of plain sacks.

In my mother’s words: “Sometimes Mama would go with Daddy to choose the prints and sometimes he’d do it himself. They were all so pretty, he couldn’t make a mistake. So Mama not only made the bread, but they grew the wheat for the flour and I had lots of pretty dresses to show for it. Mama would take me to town and we’d shop til I found a dress I liked, then we’d go home and Mama would cut out a pattern for it and make it.”

One of her fondest memories of her mother is of all those times she watched her work at that stand-alone kitchen cabinet making biscuits in the big wooden bread bowl that always stayed just below the sifter. When she was ready to make bread, she just turned the sifter handle and flour came down into the bowl.

“I can just see Mama making the biscuits, mixing mostly with her hands, then throwing a little flour on the dough board, cutting the biscuits out. When they were in the oven she pushed the mixing bowl back under the sifter and closed the door. Rarely did she wash the bowl so that the nest of flour was ready for the next time.”

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are the same–my mother making biscuits. She didn’t have a stand-alone cabinet with a built-in sifter and a bowl always at the ready, but she might as well have since she made biscuits on a regular basis. You could always count on them on Saturday mornings. She’d poke the small end of a spoon or knife into the soft, still-warm-from-the-oven biscuits then pour molasses in the hole and that’s how we’d eat them. We always brought molasses back whenever we went to West Virginia. I can’t remember a time in my life that we didn’t have West Virginia molasses in the house. How would we eat biscuits without that?

It’s amazing how many memories are built around food. Food is basic but deep, simple but evocative.

Make something meaningful out of breakfast this weekend. Someday, somebody’s gonna remember what you fixed for them–make it yummy!

Here are a few of my favorites if you’re looking for ideas:

My Biscuits (and more–how to make my Quick Mix for biscuits, muffins, pancakes)
Breakfast with Grandmother Bread
The Ultimate Breakfast Casserole
Biscuits & Gravy
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
Over-the-Top Cinnamon-Streusel Biscuits
Hot, Fresh Glazed Doughnuts
Cinnamon Crispies
Biscuit Twists
Sour Cream Raisin Biscuits
Apple Butter Coffee Cake
Homemade PopTarts

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on June 5, 2009  

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Comments

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  1. 6-5
    2:11
    am

    I wore dresses made from chicken feed sacks that my grandparents would get (they had chickens then). I think I still have some of the material, even, though it’s been about fifty years or so ago. My husband’s mother had one of those sifter cabinets at one time. Now there’s a kitchen “gadget” I truly covet, talk about handy! I remember buying some flour in cloth sacks about twenty years ago when we lived in Tehachapi, CA, but I haven’t seen any since then.

  2. 6-5
    4:09
    am

    I have a quilt, an apron and several unfinished quilt blocks that my maternal grandmother made from feed sacks. I had some of the cutest clothes when I was little made from feed sacks, too! One of my great-aunts made me a doll as well. I still have him, and love him.

    Please thank your mama for sharing her memories of the Hoosier cabinet and biscuit making. What a wonderful story!

  3. 6-5
    4:50
    am

    My Grandmother on my father’s side also had flour sacks. As I remember they were from years before and she kept turning them into beautiful quilts during the winter months. That woman, she worked all evening on the farm after putting in a day at a dry cleaning establishment in Charleston. Her morning started at 4 am and continued until 10 pm. Her biscuits and pies (made with lard) were in the oven at 4 am. Grandpa would finish milking the dairy cattle by 6:30 or so and come in for a breakfast of sausage, biscuits,jellies, gravy, eggs, potatoes occasionally, and always farm milk. One wonders how they both stayed so skinny after eating meals like that daily, until you remember, they worked their butts off all day long.

  4. 6-5
    5:39
    am

    That cabinet was called a Hoosier cabinet and they’re very expensive antiques at this point in time. My aunt had a large wooden bowl filled with flour. She’d put the ingredients in the center and work the flour from the sides until she had the perfect mix. Is that West Virginia molasses, sorghum? Yum.

    – Suzanne, the Other Suzanne

  5. 6-5
    6:08
    am

    :wave: I love to read the stories of your heritage. People didn’t have much but they always seemed to have enough and they were happy with what they had. I love to hear that she did not wash the bowl after stirring the biscuits. We are so germ conscious that we don’t leave the butter out overnight. They were just as healthy and there weren’t drugstores on every street corner. Are we missing something???!! :hungry:

    Your recipes are wonderful!

  6. 6-5
    6:15
    am

    MY MOTHER ALSO HAD A FLOUR PAN. ADDED THE BUTTERMILK ETC. IN A WELL IN FLOUR BOWL. THIS IS HOW SHE DETERMINED HOW MANY BISQ. SHE WOULD NEED. BY HAND SHE WOULD WORK THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF FLOUR INTO THE MILK MIX. IT ALWAYS CAME OUT PERFECT. I HAVE SEEN MY MOTHER GET UP FROM THE TABLE AND DO ANOTHER MIX; IF COMPANY DROPPED BY AND WE NEEDED MORE BREAD. COMPANY WAS ALWAYS WELCOME. WE HAD NO MIXERS- MEASURING SPOONS- IT WAS A SPLASH OF THIS AND A PINCH OF THAT. NO DOUGH BOWLS TO WASH. THOSE WERE THE DEPRESSION DAYS TOO.

  7. 6-5
    6:29
    am

    My Mama also used a big wooden bowl and kept it full of flour, she made biscuits every day. They were very big and fluffy, we called them “cat head” biscuits because they were about that size. Some older country people down here still call big biscuits that. My mama and grandma both had those cabinets, how I wish I had one. Thanks so much for sharing your life and memories with us!!!

  8. 6-5
    6:48
    am

    Thanks, Suzanne, for your gentle nudging about making a special weekend breakfast because someone will remember it years from now. Our son is 32 with two little girls of his own now. A few years ago he started the tradition of what he calls “Daddy Breakfast”…which he prepares every Saturday morning for his family. His oldest just turned 5 in April and the youngest will be 4 in October. When they Grandma and Pop Pop every weekend one of the topics we always discuss is what they had for “Daddy Breakfast”. I pray they never get too old to truly enjoy this memory of “Daddy Breakfast”.

  9. 6-5
    6:58
    am

    Oh, the memories. I posted something on the forum about my aunt Goldie’s sourdough biscuits a few days ago.She was like a grandmother to me, because both my grandmothers were gone.She worked her biscuit magic on one of those sifter cabinets with the pull out metal biscuit board.
    She made dresses for me with the flour sack material.Also aprons and clothespin holders that looked like little baby dresses with the bottom stitched shut.Anybody remember those? They hung on a hanger on the clothesline.
    Thank you so much, Suzanne.I’m all warm & fuzzy with memories now.
    By the way……we had “cow butter” with our biscuits.Who remembers that? Home churned butter. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for just one of my aunt Goldie’s biscuits with cow butter melting in it.

  10. 6-5
    7:10
    am

    Isn’t it funny how food and smells can bring back such strong memories? I smell fresh baked bread and I am instantly a child watching my mother make homemade bread in our little kitchen. And anxiously waiting to dig into it, while still warm, with some fresh homemade jam :hungry:

  11. 6-5
    7:44
    am

    My mama baked buscuits every day, too. She didn’t cut them out, though. She worked them together from the side like Suzanne’s aunt. Then she’d form them in her hands and put them on a griddle. When she had them all in place, including the itty-bitty ones she made just for us, she use her knuckles and make slight little dents in top. Then we’d have them with cane syrup or jelly. Oh, they were so good.

    I have a quilt make with flour sacks, too.

    Thanks for bringing back the good memories.

  12. 6-5
    7:56
    am

    Wow, the memories you people have!! I remember when I was very little (at least 60 years ago!), watching my Great Aunt (who had raised my Mom) churn butter from their cow’s milk. I loved helping her shuck the peas from her garden, and Suzanne – yours look perfect! I don’t remember my grandmother making biscuits, but she made her own donuts (“fried cakes”) and the most wonderful cookies with icing on them. My fondest memory of Mom’s cooking was her chicken and dumplings, but me? I’ve got a bag of frozen c&d in the freezer!!!

  13. 6-5
    7:58
    am

    Mmmm biscuits and memories, absolutely delicious.

  14. 6-5
    8:58
    am

    My granny had one of those flour cabinets, but by the time I could remember anything she had already but it into storage and was not using it…said it took up to much room in here little kitchen. I have the top half of that cabinet now the bottom half I could not get, when my granny died I was supposed to get it..but my aunt would not let me..luckily Granny had the wisdom to let me have the top half about 10 yearts before she died, so no one could say anything…hahah

    Now I just wanted to tell you that I used your biscuit mix recipe a couple of days ago and My Husband said those were the best biscuits that I had everymade and to be sure to hold onto that recipe. Yesterday my daugther and I also made the homemade poptarts…we are currently munching away on them. They didn’t turn out as pretty as yours did but they are very yummy..

    Thanks for the great website. I learn a lot form you and I remember things from child I had forgotten as well.

  15. 6-5
    9:27
    am

    Now I am STARVING….Your recalls about the past are a “warm fuzzie” this cold, dreary OR morn….I so enjoyed your post, and I find myself anticipating returning to read. I have been on the planet for a while, and I can identify with all these wonderful posts….Thanks for your sincerity in writing, you make the reader quite at home, and bring back delightful memories…

  16. 6-5
    12:16
    pm

    My Mom had a cabinet such as you are describing with the flour bin in the top, They called it a “hoosier” cabinet. It also had a “bread dawer” on the bottom right with a slide tin lid. and my grandma made quilts and dressesfor us girl cousins from printed flour sacks

  17. 6-5
    12:21
    pm

    My favorite biscuit is a yeast biscuit…I haven’t made them, but I do love the taste in a good Southern resteraunt or cafe. I make a good biscuit that is like KFC’s biscuits. But, I don’t make them often.

    Today is National Donut day!!!! (at last MSN says so, on the homepage). LOL

    Yes, we tie many memories to food and good dishes and have the fondest memories of special recipes my family made…but unfortunately, with our country today, we have a crush on food – high obesity rates. Not good.

  18. 6-5
    12:24
    pm

    My father also called the big biscuits “cat head biscuits” – he grew up with 12 brothers and sisters, in West Texas…they knew about the depression, and they were farmers…he loved those big biscuits.

  19. 6-5
    12:37
    pm

    Your Quick Mix does make the BEST biscuits and I have tried MANY buscuit recipes. The kids asked me just this week if I had made up more “mix” they like the pancakes too. I guess I had better get busy (it is SO easy no reason to ever run out). We will be having yummy biscuits in the morning. Anybody out there put “sugar water” on the biscuits? That how we eat them. Boil water add a bunch of white sugar stir till disolved pour over butterd biscuits, good eats!

  20. 6-6
    7:30
    am

    Growing up, my mother used to serve warm rolls every Sunday (with Jelly, butter, etc.) Nowadays I like to serve similar things, and my husband and children’s favorites are definitely buttermilk biscuits. I like to make them with a big pot of hot tea on the side. Delicious.

  21. 6-6
    8:47
    pm

    Hi Suzanne, is there anywhere you know of by you that I can order some homemade molasses? I know it is popular in WV and I would love to have a jar. Let me know if there is any place or anyone you know of that sells it or would be willing to sell it.

    Thanks!

    PS-the chicks and ducklings are precious. You are living a life I can only dream of.

  22. 2-4
    8:04
    am

    In my first grade picture, I am wearing a little purple pinafore made from a flour sack…Oh and my Mom had the same cupboard with the flour bin…too cool

  23. 8-8
    10:42
    am

    I have a Hoosier-type cabinet with the built in flour holder and sifter. It came out of a barn and our friend refinished it and we bought it. It was made here in Ohio.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....






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