Front Porches and Whippoorwills

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I have wondered how to begin this blog.  So many thoughts have come to mind…introducing myself and my girls, telling all about my little bakery in my little town.  But, I keep thinking about my roots, so I think that’s where I will begin…with my earliest memories.

My grandmother Edna lived in an old white farm house across the river, up the hill, around the curve and down in the holler- way out in the western part of Limestone County.  In other words, she lived in the middle of nowhere.  But it was, and is, a beautiful place.  The old red barn sits slightly elevated and to the side of the house.  There are rolling hills all around and a small branch trickles playfully between the house and barn before winding back behind the barn and going on its way.

My grandmother’s house didn’t have an indoor bathroom for years.  I remember crossing the branch to the outhouse in the summertime, braving snakes and wasp nests to go the bathroom…except for the time the mama skunk had babies under the commode.  I also remember shivering over the slop jar in the middle of a freezing Alabama winter’s night.

In the wintertime, my grandmother heated her house with a coal burning heater.  I remember backing up to the heater until my backside was on fire, then turning around to heat up my front side.  Both sides would never be warm at the same time.  In the summertime, the windows and doors were thrown open to catch that cross breeze.  I never remember being hot in the holler.  It seemed to me to be perfect weather all the time. 

On warm nights, my grandmother and I would sit on the porch swing and just listen. Every time I hear a whippoorwill, I am immediately 10 years old again sitting next to her tall, lanky frame, listening to the frogs and crickets and the whippoorwill.  When the whippoorwill would start her lonesome cries, my grandmother would cry along with her.  “Why do you cry when you hear a whippoorwill?” I asked.  She looked at me with tears on her face and said “The cry of the whippoorwill is about the saddest sound in the world.”  It’s been a long time since I was 10.  I have seen a lot of sadness and heard a lot of bad things, but my grandmother was absolutely right.  The cry of a whippoorwill is just about the saddest sound in the whole wide world. Even Hank Williams Sr. acknowledged that fact in the song “I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry”….  “Hear that lonesome whippoorwill
He sounds too blue to fly…..”

An old white hoosier cabinet stood in the kitchen at my grandmother’s house.  There were always surprises inside!  Just about anytime I opened the upper cabinet, there was always a plate of fried apple pies just waiting on someone to enjoy them.  My brother has always been a little odd ( :P) and he loved-and still does- those nasty little orange circus peanuts from the grocery store.  I’ve always thought my grandmother favored him for several reasons, one of which was that there was always a bag of circus peanuts waiting on him in the drawer of that cabinet anytime we went over to visit.

Good food and good cooks are as ingrained in my family as being tall and hard headed.  Some of my earliest memories are of watching my mama and my grandmother cook and helping out when they’d let me.  I have known how to make biscuits for so long that I make them by feel and texture instead of by a recipe.  I don’t remember being told measurements by those women as much as being shown by touch.  I think I could make biscuits blindfolded.  Maybe someday I will try it!

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This is a recent picture of my Grandmother Edna’s house.  It is still loved by everyone in my family.  The front porch swing hung just to the right of the rocking chair.  It faced to our left and many wonderful nights were spent barely moving, barely speaking in that front porch swing.  The barn stands slightly up and to our left.

 

Biscuits

(I use self-rising flour)

Put flour in a bowl.

Add about 1/8 the amount of shortening as flour (For example:  if you used 2 cups flour, use a heaping  ¼  cup shortening—remember, measurements are not exact)

Cut shortening in with 2 knives, a fork, or a pastry cutter.

Add enough milk to form a slightly sticky ball.  Add a little at a time.  My grandmother always told me it’s easier to add than to take away in a recipe.

Knead several times on a floured surface.

Use the top of a glass, or a biscuit/cookie cutter if you must.

Bake at 400 until they are golden brown.  Butter with the real stuff and enjoy piping hot.

 

I know that a lot of people don’t care for so much leeway in a recipe.  I’m sorry about that.  There will be many more recipes coming, and they will, hopefully, be more exact.

 

3 responses »

  1. I stopped by today to see if you had a catering menu for an upcoming wedding in our family. You are out of menus and so I went on your website and blog. I have spent the last hour reading your stories. I love them! Your daughter’s wedding was beautiful! You seem like an awesome lady! That ex of yours really lost out! Enjoy life!

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