Monday, August 8, 2016

Flour, butter, sugar...

One of the most powerful—and protective—tools humans possess is their ability to smell.

That sickly-sweet odor that warns you not to eat decomposing meat? The musky warm scent that inspires you to nibble your husband's neck resulting in, less than a year later, the delicate milky-baby scent that compels you to nurture your newborn? Wood smoke that alerts to a forest fire, or draws people round a campfire for 'Smores, and social bonding? Pleasure, pain, fear, desire—emotions and actions, incited by certain odors. Memories and instinct conjured through smell.

Baking Powder Biscuits fresh from the oven take me back to the toasty-warm kitchen of first my Grandma Mac, and then Aunt Shirley's, ranch house. I see them bending to pull the scorched pans from the old wood stove, the steam rising from the biscuit as it's pulled apart, butter pooling in the fluffy white centers. I see woolen mitts and socks hung on a line on the wall behind the wood stove to dry, and my uncle at the kitchen table tucked in his favorite corner of the black vinyl-covered bench seat next to the huge picture window, where he could use his binoculars to keep an eye on expectant cows.

Cinnamon and spice, on the other hand, transport me to the kitchen in my childhood home with its yellow appliances, and my mom, apron around her waist, sliding Jumbo Raisin Cookies on to cooling racks, her long black hair tied back in a ponytail with one of the thick fluffy colorful lengths of yarn sold for that purpose. I feel the wooden spoon in my hands and taste the raw batter, hear my brother begging, "Me, too!" And when it's cold outside, or I feel alone or lonely inside, I pull out my Kitchen-Aid mixer, flour, butter, and sugar, and revive those memories in my kitchen, revive that sense of warmth, security, happiness…love. I create the scents, and with them the people, the memories, because without them, where would I be?


Nothing reaches the intellect before making its appearance in the senses. ~Latin proverb


Mom's Jumbo Raisin Cookies (Thanks, Mom!)

2c. raisins
1c. boiling water

4c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp. each of nutmeg and allspice
1 tsp. baking soda

1c. shortening
2c. sugar

3 eggs (one at a time)
1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. nuts (optional)

Boil raisins until soft and fluffy. Cool. Sift all dry ingredients together except sugar. Cream shortening. Add sugar bit by bit. Add eggs one at time stirring between. Add dry ingredients in increments mixing between. Add raisins. Add vanilla.

Drop by spoonful on to baking sheet. Bake 9-10 mins at 350F (175C)

Makes 6-7 doz.

                                                                 My beautiful mother.

                                                                                                                             Photo copyright 2015 Deborah Anderson


Ranch House Baking Powder Biscuits

2 c. flour, sifted
3 Tbsp. sugar
5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt

¼ c. cold shortening

1 c. milk

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in shortening until it forms pea-sized lumps. Add milk. Stir, lightly but quickly until soft dough forms. Do not over stir or biscuits will be more dense than fluffy. Roll to ½ to 1" thickness. Cut to portion size and shape preference.

My aunty often floured the open end of a clean drinking glass to cut circular biscuits. Or a floured bread knife can be used to cut a grid pattern in dough for square or rectangular biscuits. Cookie cutters work too! Be as creative or simple as suits.

Bake 10-12 mins in 450F (230C) oven, or until tops are golden and biscuits risen.

Enjoy with butter, or margarine, honey or PB&J. Or just J. I especially love them dripping with butter alongside homemade stew.


                                                  Grandma at her 95th birthday celebration.

                                                                           Photo copyright Deborah Anderson, 2010

No comments: