“From Scratch”

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When I was a kid, the only biscuits I ever ate came in a tube in the refrigerator. You peeled the cover off the tube, whacked it hard against the edge of the counter, and pulled out eight little round pieces of dough. When baked, these little circles became what passed as biscuits in our house. The first time I ever tasted any semblance of a real biscuit was with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. These were fatter, tastier, and much much greasier.

When my mother-in-law died, we inherited the wooden biscuit bowl pictured above. She grew up in rural Texas and her mother had left this bowl to her. It must be, therefore, at least 100 years old, probably more. I have loved it as an art object, but really didn’t understand its use until I prepared this post. Sadly I never had the opportunity to ask my mother-in-law how she remembered it being used.

I loved reading how women simply poured a large amount of flour into the bowl, made a well for the lard, buttermilk and baking powder and began mixing. By sight and feel, the baker would mix the dough until it was just right for biscuits. Bread was also made in these bowls, and the wood held the heat for the required rise.

My husband’s grandmother had five children, a husband with tuberculosis, and very little money. I am quite sure she constantly made biscuits and bread to fill every stomach. She definitely used the flour sack cloth for sewing. Her frugality was passed down to her daughter and now onto her grandson, my husband. His salvaging of bricks and collecting of seeds shows he learned to “make do” as surely as his grandmother with her wooden biscuit bowl.

17 thoughts on ““From Scratch”

  1. I love to think of such old things, and what they have seen. All those years of basic food to fill up a family.
    But we don’t really have ‘biscuits’ here. What we call ‘Biscuits’, you call ‘Cookies’. Here they are generally very sweet, and we have hundreds of varieties. They are a treat, and far from being part of a meal. https://www.joe.co.uk/food/26-british-biscuits-ranked-worst-best-194778
    Two nations, separated by the same language…
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. I laughed that you had only biscuits from a tube while growing up. My parents made biscuits from time to time, and I always enjoyed them. When our children were little, I made biscuits about once a week. That continued until they left home, and then we had biscuits only when guests were with us. The funny thing is, I LOVE refrigerated biscuits from a tube. I won’t let myself buy them, because I would be tempted to eat every one myself. We have lived in NC for five years now, and I haven’t had that treat here yet. It’s time for an indulgence, don’t you think? Maybe I can relax my rule soon.

  3. My Mom used to make biscuits from scratch except for holidays when she was too busy. I remember peeling off thin layers of the tube biscuits to eat before they ever made it to the oven.

  4. It is a great pity, Elizabeth, that people have lost this sense of making do and frugality. Consumerism is responsible for a lot of the ills in our society. My mother grew up during the war and is also a person who is very conservative. She passed it down to us and we are not excessive people either. I see how some people waste money and everything else and think it is a great shame.

  5. I’m not sure whether you are describing what we would call scones. Cookies are the equivalent of our biscuits – usually flat and crispy (sometimes chewy) and sweet. Whilst the dough mix you describe sounds like scones and would certainly work in that beautiful bowl, I’m not sure that our biscuit mix would. Too wet. And I can’t imagine it coming out of a tube!

  6. You are describing what we call savory scones here in Australia Elizabeth. Our biscuits are what you call cookies :-D.
    I enjoy both savory & sweet scones. Sweet Pumpkin scones are my favorite with lashings of butter although Date are pretty close second for the sweet. Then cheese, onion & bacon are my favorite savory.
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

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