In 1965, I was living in Marysville, Missouri, when I decided to make biscuits. I liked rolls, not biscuits. However, I had watched my mother, grandmother, and aunts make biscuits at different times. Biscuits seemed so fast to make and so easy. After looking through several of my recipe books and making a few long-distance telephone calls, I did try, and I did not like any of them. Finally, while living in Las Cruces, NM, in the late ’60s, I made biscuits that all four of us in our family really liked! Finally!
When we lived in Portales, NM, I came home from work one day and looked to see what I could make for supper. With it being time to go to the store, it would be creamed tuna over biscuits. This was one of our favorites, with a few vegetables along the side. We had just finished eating when the phone rang. A friend, Nancy, wanted to know if I could take the boys to Boy Scouts? I, of course, said “certainly.” On the way to Scouts, I asked my friend’s son, Matt, “Why is your Mom not driving to scouts tonight?” He explained that she was taking all of her baked goods into competition at the fair with others. My mind began whirring. “Hmmm, I had cooked biscuits for dinner. Suppose I could enter my biscuits in the competition?”
When I got home, I called the Fair Barn and, to my surprise, someone answered, and after a polite greeting, I asked, “Is it too late to enter biscuits into the competition?” The lady’s answer was, “No, but you only have thirty more minutes.” I then explained I wanted to bring biscuits and wondered how many I should bring. She said, “Bring four.” When I hung up, I quickly looked at my biscuits. I had three uneaten ones left, but I needed four. I decided to look in the trash to see if I could gather one up that might not be too bad and quickly take it to the fair barn. There was one at the top of the trash with one bite taken from it. I brushed it off and arranged the four biscuits on a plate, and I was off. The one with the bite out just made the biscuits look tempting. To my surprise and my friend’s surprise, my entry won 1st place! They were then blue ribbon biscuits.
Years later, my daughter was living in San Francisco and was working in a five-star restaurant, Gary Danko’s, when she telephoned one morning and said, “Mom, I just made your biscuits to take to the staff today since it is a holiday and we all have to work.” My children and our grandchildren love these biscuits. A month or two later, she telephoned and said that the pastry chef had asked for my recipe and wanted to make them for her family at Christmas. When the pastry chef returned, she went to Gary Danko and asked him if they could start serving these biscuits on the menu. Now Gary has won the James Beard award several times. I know him because Dawn worked with him for so many years, doing his training and working in almost every position serving customers. She next took on the role of maitre de’ several nights a week. Gary agreed. Biscuits were served with lobster soup.
Dawn had fun with our biscuits being on the menu. One night as a couple left the restaurant, Dawn said, “Did you enjoy the meal?” The lady replied, “Yes, but my favorite was those biscuits! Do you think the Chef let me have the recipe?” Dawn replied, “Those are my Mom’s biscuits, her recipe.” She could not wait to tell me the response of the lady and others about our biscuits. So the life of these biscuits went from a blue ribbon win in Portales to being served in a five-star restaurant.
Here is the recipe:
Sift together 2 cups flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 2 teaspoons sugar. Now cut in one long stick (8 tablespoons) butter until everything looks crumbly. Pour in 2/3 cup of milk and stir. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently. It just takes a minute or less. Now pat out the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness and cut it into the size wanted with a glass or biscuit cutter. Cook in the preheated 450-degree oven for about ten or twelve minutes. This makes enough biscuits to fill one long casserole glass dish, 12 to 16. If they are not brown on the top, cook a few minutes longer. Delicious! When there are six people to eat more, I usually make 1 1/2 the amount. Sometimes I double the recipe. Even if there are leftover biscuits, they can be warmed and served again.
LESSON: Sometimes it takes multiple tries to get it right! But when it is right, it can become a family favorite and even a favorite of others.
Gifts: Every time I make biscuits, I think of my grandmother, my mother, and my favorite aunts.
People were shocked that I won the Blue Ribbon in Portales and that I made biscuits that were good enough for a five-star restaurant. They knew I worked hard and traveled in my job some, had two children that I had fun with, a husband I supported in his endeavors, and I believe they were shocked that I cooked! I cooked lots until Don got sick. I did not begin cooking again very much until John and I married. Then the biscuits were back! Now I have four children that love my biscuits, as well as a great husband that appreciates them