Sun­day Grace at the ta­ble

W i t h G o e

Record Observer - - Opinion -

Noth­ing says Sun­day quite like fresh, home­made bis­cuits. When I was very lit­tle, Sun­days were re- served for Sun­day morn­ing church and din­ner at Mom­mom’s. My great-grand­mother, Mom-mom, was a fierce force to be reck­oned with bun­dled into a four­foot some­thing pack­age that smelled like lilac, never with­out her house­coat and but­ter­scotch can­dies and a Kleenex tucked into her pocket. Looks can be de­ceiv­ing. Mess with her and she’d just as soon send you into the back­yard to cut a switch. The boys, my brother and cousin, learned quickly a tiny branch is not the lesser of two evils.

Mostly we fol­lowed her di­rec­tion and minded our man­ners. My grand­fa­ther was quick to re­mind us of the time he tried to leave the yard and Mom-mom tied him to the clothes­line. Free-range par­ent­ing had a dif­fer­ent mean­ing those days, I sup­pose. Her house, on the cor­ner of Peach­blos­som Av­enue in Cam­bridge, with a small, but rowdy young boy tied to the clothes­line, must’ve caught the at­ten­tion of a passer-by be­cause my grand­fa­ther was able to con­vince the man he had been play­ing cow­boys and got­ten him­self caught up. When Mom­mom got wise to his great es­cape, let’s say switches and clothes­lines were the least of my grand­fa­ther’s con­cerns.

But stay on her sweet side and she’d let us into the kitchen where ef­fort­less magic hap­pened. East­ern Shore-style cook­ing wasn’t so much an ex­cep­tion as the rule. Plates piled high with collard greens, mashed pota­toes, mac­a­roni and cheese, roast goose and bis­cuits were Sun­day fa­vorites. Mom-mom’s been gone now more years than I care to count, buried in Old Trin­ity along­side Pop-pop, her child­hood sweet­heart, but when I catch my­self feel­ing nos­tal­gic, I head into the kitchen. Many of her recipes were never writ­ten down and some, though writ­ten, im­pos­si­ble to recre­ate her way. I bor­rowed this recipe from one re-printed in Gar­den and Gun, and I like to think it does her jus­tice.

With just a few in­gre­di­ents these bis­cuits re­ally are “easy like Sun­day morn­ing” in the very best way.

3 cups self-ris­ing flour

1½ cups high-qual­ity whole but­ter­milk

Melted but­ter or mar­garine, for top­ping

Coarse salt, for top­ping (op­tional)

Pre­heat the oven to 425 de­grees. Add flour to a large mix­ing bowl. Make a well in the cen­ter and pour in the but­ter­milk. Mix by mov­ing your open hand along the side of the bowl, fold­ing the flour into the but­ter­milk but tak­ing care not to over­work the dough. When the dough can be loosely shaped into a ball, turn it out onto a floured sur­face and fold it gen­tly un­til it comes to­gether. Flat­ten by hand to an inch thick­ness. Punch out rounds us­ing a bis­cuit cut­ter or a glass. Grease a bak­ing sheet with but­ter or coat with non-stick cook­ing spray and place the bis­cuits on top, almost touch­ing. Ar­range any scraps around the sides, almost touch­ing. Brush the tops of the bis­cuits with melted but­ter, sprin­kle on salt, and bake for 15 min­utes or un­til risen and lightly golden brown on top. Re­move from the oven, brush with more but­ter, and serve im­me­di­ately.

Home­made straw­berry jam is the pre­ferred ac­com­pa­ni­ment, but any­way you choose, they are sure to be de­li­cious. My brother’s com­plaint was that I only sent home five with him. Per­haps next time he should make his own bis­cuits. Go with grace.

HAN­NAH COMBS

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