I was fascinated by their lifestyle. I, a child of the Air Force move-every-two-years life, couldn't imagine living in one place for years on end, let alone near the extended family that had settled in the Bethesda area of Durham. They were by no means the salt of the earth, however: it turns out the family made more bad choices than good ones, with my grandmother deftly ignoring or denying the shenanigans of her progeny.
During the small bits of time I had with my grandmother, she taught me a lifetime of skills: how to make perfect buttermilk biscuits and pecan pie, sew basic hems and repair tears and replace missing buttons, crochet, harvest beans and peas, and more. She filled a need I didn't understand to work with my hands and tend to home.
This morning the tweens are sleeping off the aftereffects of too much candy and long jogs from one street to the next. The teen is powersleeping his exhaustion away (nightly homework lasting until midnight takes a toll). Halloween started with a block party hosted by the Neels and ended with a quiet ramble down the street with AG and her friend.
I decided it was a good morning for biscuits. So I took out my grandmother's wood bread bowl, mixed the ingredients, and the house is now filled with a luscious, buttermilky scent that fills me with contentment.
6 cups self-rising flour
1/2 to 3/4 cups shortening
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Mix and knead until dough is slightly sticky. Powder hands with flour and shape dough into 2" diameter biscuits. (My grandmother never used a biscuit cutter - her biscuits were always rolled and flattened by hand.)
Bake at 425 degrees for about 15-18 minutes. Check carefully - don't over-bake. The ideal color is a light golden brown.
Serve with butter, molasses, bacon, eggs, cheese - a buffet of yummy fillings.