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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rising to the Occasion

There isn’t much that represents the south better than homemade biscuits and a truly well made southern biscuit is a force to be reckoned with. The taste of this warm and delicious delicacy has the ability to bring a family together or pull them apart. Wars have been fought over these southern treasures. Seriously.

Growing up, one of my favorite things about a Saturday morning was Mom making a big pan of homemade biscuits and tomato gravy. If you are not familiar with tomato gravy, you have missed something wonderful. Bearing in mind you must be a fan of tomatoes as well. It is a simple dish that includes just what the name describes. Gravy with stewed or chopped tomatoes. Although it might sound like an odd combination, it is a coming together of two very different tastes that work together to create a unique and wonderful dish. This, along with my Mother’s homemade biscuits, was a huge treat for us. Mother always complained that her biscuits were not pretty enough or too big, which is something I never quite understood. They looked just fine to me and besides….who cares? This was not a biscuit pageant. All that mattered is how wonderful they tasted. Next to Mom’s biscuits, I have to admit, there was one other person who’s biscuits I thought highly of and still crave….my Aunt Doris’ biscuits. Aunt Doris is my great aunt who we would visit regularly on our trips to the country. She and Uncle Walter were the warm and fuzzy version of the Cleavers. They never had children of their own so we felt like theirs every time we visited. Aunt Doris, being the true southern woman she is, always fed us like kings when we were there. Honestly, I remember suppers that often included two main entrees, several fresh vegetables, a dessert and of course mouth watering biscuits. She made biscuits every morning too. Breakfast included the usual….some version of pork (or two), eggs, grits and/or hashbrowns and thankfully…..those biscuits! Jars of homemade jams and jellies were always present. There was excitement when she opened that cabinet that held her biscuit supplies. Uncle Walter helped her out in the kitchen but his calling was more about entertainment. He possessed a simple but wonderful sense of humor as well as a love of telling wonderful stories about his life growing up. He is my Papaw’s brother and one half of a set of twins. His sister Aunt Rene being the other half. He and my Papaw have always been close and are a great deal alike. Everyone in our family enjoyed those visits and Aunt Doris’ infamous biscuits. So much in fact, that my Dad made a fatal mistake one day when he suggested to my Mother that she get Aunt Doris to show her how she made her biscuits. They say ignorance is bliss and this statement could not be truer than the moments that led up to this terrible suggestion. Dad couldn’t have known how those few simple words would alter his future….or ours. Could he? We all know now. There have not been biscuits made in the Bounds’ home since and I do mean none. There have been feasts prepared along with prize-winning desserts. There have been no biscuits. In fact, the subject of biscuits is a taboo subject. We all quietly respect that. While we miss the biscuits Mom once prepared, we accept our biscuit empty lives and occasionally remind Dad that he robbed us. He knows it. We all know it.