It is an old country house that rests on a road that borders the divide of two North Alabama counties.
Built in 1933 by hands of hardworking relatives of mine, the ones I’ll only meet in glory, but whose stories, pieces, and lives have touched the walls of that old house.
My grandmother, my only one still living, still lives in that house all these years later.
In my childhood, the early 1990’s, it was a home moving and rustling with the sound of my Grandparents hollering at one another in casual conversation merely because of my Grandfathers lighting struck ear.
You could hear the cows right outside their house and the smell of the chicken houses permeated the air just miles down the road… (my dad used to say chicken houses “smell like money”… I beg to differ).
My grandmother cooking, my grandfather making bottles for the baby calves, and the smell of breakfast oozing in the bedrooms where my sisters and I were sleeping. We would smell it and I swear my grandmother cooked like that with the sheer purpose of drawing us into the kitchen with her.
Bacon, salt pork, sausage, gravy, eggs and biscuits.
Not the kind that you can buy pre made in that pop open tube, no i’m talking real biscuits, y’all.
The kind she “just threw together cause Papa Doc (our grandfather) was gon’ be hungry” if she didn’t.
The kind that make your mouth water when they are being pulled from the oven.
“Mama Rue, how do you make those?” I’d ask.
“Well Hon’, you just getcha a lil’ flour, lil’ buttermilk, lil shortnin’, maybe a lil egg if ya’ gotcha one. Then ya’ just roll em out on ya’ towel, but be sure its got a little flour on it so it don’t stick, cut em’ out, stick em on ya pan… and be sure the pan is buttered cause Lord knows that’s a chore you ain’t gon’ want when they come out.”
HA, did you catch on? 🙂
I’d sit and watch as she made them, trying to see if I could memorize it somehow.
There was a comfort level that she had with herself when she was making food.
She had this innate ability to take all that was left in her kitchen and turn it into a masterpiece.
I’d watch her, memorize her moves and stare in amazement at the walls of her kitchen covered in mason jars filled with every vegetable you could dream of that she canned herself.
One thing was for sure, I have never been hungry at my grandmother’s house.
Somedays I like to sit and remember what it was like watching her mill around the kitchen with such ease and peace.
Today she cant do much milling around like she used to, so phone calls to her and occasional visits seem to suffice for cooking lessons.
She’ll call me to make sure I got my farmers almanac in the mail and that Cody was staying fed.
We recently chatted where she let out a minor fuss at me saying, “Now, Laaaauuuura, you make them biscuits I taught ya to make for Cody this morning? I hear he’s doing yard work today. Ya can’t let that boy work out there without any biscuits.”
How that woman knows what happening 3 hours south of her is beyond me, but she knows… she always knows.
We stayed on the phone while she spit out her “little bits of this” until the biscuits were made.
Opening my oven to those dreamy, buttery, buttermilky goodness took my heart and mind back to those mornings in the 1990’s when my feet hit the shag carpet of her old house and took off running towards the smell of breakfast in the Northern Hills of Alabama.
I had to sit a minute to reflect, to remember, and feel as nostalgia rushed over me.
It’s amazing what a smell can do.
Sometimes, it just takes you home.
So what about you? What smells take you home?
Mama Rue’s Homemade Biscuits Recipe (I finally figured out some measurements):
2 cups of self rising flour
half a stick of butter
1/2 cup of buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400.
Mix all ingredients together (melt butter before).
Roll the dough out on a piece of wax paper with flour to keep from sticking.
Use a cup or jar to cut out biscuits from the dough.
Grease a pan and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove and enjoy… 🙂