I made biscuits this morning. No, not the kind that come in a can. Actual, homemade biscuits. They made me cry. To tell you the truth, it wasn’t really the biscuit’s fault. It was the jam. Blackberry. Homemade as well, but not by me. So I guess maybe it was my mother who made me cry…she made the jam.
Before you think I’ve gone off the deep end and need to be locked up somewhere, just sit tight and let me explain. My mother spent her entire life as a housewife. Well, most of it anyway. When Dad came home from work, it was Mom who had the meals ready. She enjoyed cooking. Baking was a specialty. I can hardly remember a day, from the time I was small until just a few short years ago, that my Mom did not have some sort of fresh baked goods on her kitchen counter. It might have been cookies, or maybe a chocolate cake. Persimmon pudding in the fall and she was always experimenting with different types of candy.
And then there was pie. Mom was a pie baker. I mean, a real pie baker. As she aged, her skills and strength might have suffered a bit, but at 88 she could still bake a blackberry pie that would put most bakeries to shame. Coconut Cream, Chocolate, Pecan, Butterscotch…I mean with homemade butterscotch pudding, she made any and every kind of pie you can name. She not only baked pies, she had a clientele of friends, family and strangers, all whom would come by Mom’s house in hopes that she had a pie fresh from the oven that she would be willing to sell. I don’t remember how it happened or why, but one of her pies even ended up in the hands of former Governor Mitch Daniels.
Pie wasn’t the only item Mom was famous for; her biscuits had a following as well. When I was growing up, she made biscuits every Sunday morning. We always had a big breakfast. She would fry eggs, potatoes, ham or bacon, stir up some sausage gravy, …and biscuits. She didn’t make ordinary baking power biscuits though; she made what she called “two story biscuits.” My Uncles Kenny and Clyde called them “Sunday Morning Biscuits,” and they made sure to come by on Sundays after breakfast was over in hopes for some leftover biscuits.
Some people call the style of biscuit she made “Angel Biscuits,” as she used yeast in the recipe. All I know is that they were tall and delicious. She tried to write down the recipe for me once, but the truth is she never used a recipe for anything, so it was only a guess. I made them a few times but never really got it right. Since then I have tried numerous recipes, some with yeast, others without. I’ve yet to come across a recipe I’m willing to call my own.
I learned to bake when I was 17. I mean, how could I not? Mom guided me and it seemed like I had a knack for it. Over the years I have slowed down for some reason, but I haven’t forgotten how to bake or the meaningful attachment it has to my life. Just like Mom, within my family I’ve become almost famous for my strawberry pie or my homemade yeast breads. Before it’s over I’m going to find my own two story biscuit recipe to add to the list.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot the jam. For as long as I can remember, Mom made her own jam. Strawberry, blueberry, peach…and blackberry. Oh, the blackberry jam! All coming from fruit grown on her own property. So after I made my biscuits this morning, I started searching the fridge for some jam. There were a couple jars of “store bought” jelly, but that’s not what I wanted. I dug a little deeper and there it was; my very last jar of Mom’s homemade blackberry jam. There may be more somewhere, but that was the last jar I have and the last jar she will ever make me. But one thing is certain; she will be close to my heart every time I pull out my rolling pin and dive my hands deep in that dough.