I grew up as a military brat, and when I was a young alterna-teen, I didn’t want to embrace my southern roots. Even though my parents were from Tennessee, and I lived a good part of my life in the South. I figured that I could reasonably claim that I had lived half my life outside of the South, and thereby dismiss my family heritage.
Thank God I came around from that! I LOVE being a southerner. Some people associate southerners with being dumb, slow, narrow minded, or worse – racist. Sure there is some of that among some southerners. However, there is plenty of that everywhere! You don’t have to come to the South to find these types of people. Plenty of us southerners are wonderful, though! We have funny little sayings like, “you just ain’t holdin’ your lip right!” when somebody can’t get something to work for them. We have manners! We believe in being good neighbors, and helping each other out when somebody needs it because it is the right thing to do. We believe in the Golden Rule! We tell better jokes. (Sorry, but it’s true.)
Now I look back on growing up attending the tiny little church out in the country with my granny, where she and my mother went all their lives with such fondness and appreciation. I love going back and singing old-timey hymns that were sung there for at least the last 60 years. I’ll Fly Away, I Saw the Light and Old Time Religion are standard hymns sung on a regular basis. It truly is a pretty little chapel where generations of families that know each other well in the small community have gathered for decades. I grew up spending summers with my Granny and Granddaddy catching lightning bugs in a jar and using it for a night light, playing out in the woods climbing grapevines, and helping shuck corn and snap green beans. I grew up listening to Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Conway Twitty, and Willie Nelson to name a few. At the time I thought it was lame, but now I know – it was so freaking cool!
Without a doubt, I am a southerner!
But let’s get real, the best thing about being Southern is the food!
Homemade Potato Salad
Iced Tea (I was raised on sweet!)
Grits (You may think they are bland. That is because whoever cooked them for you didn’t season them.)
Yes, biscuits. I have struggled with biscuits. I make PERFECT iced tea. Seriously, I am the master. I have been making it since I was about 10 – maybe younger. My granny showed me how to fry chicken. She makes the best you will ever have. The biggest secret is to use a small chicken. Three pounds or less is just about perfect. Anything much over 3.5 lbs. and you are going to have a hard time getting the big pieces cooked through without burning the outside. But biscuits?
I tried, and tried, and tried! I watched Leah Chase from the Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans make them with Julia Child. I even looked up the recipe for the fantastic biscuits I had at Eggslut in L.A. (I know, shame on me for trying a non-Southern recipe, but dang they were so good!) The world famous biscuits from the Loveless Café in Nashville inspired me. Guess what?
Hockey pucks every freaking time. I mean, the flavor was good. Real good. However, they would never rise! I kept trying different variations of baking powder and baking soda. Flat. What was going on? I thought for sure that it must be something to do with the humid climate of Florida.
Last night though, I had a breakthrough. I had made a batch, but they weren’t wet enough and crumbled apart when I went to pick them up. So I tossed the dough back in the bowl and added some extra buttermilk. Maybe a little too much, because now they were super sticky. I went back and re-read the recipe online. And there it was! The one elusive piece of information that had held me back from all my biscuit attempts!
DON’T TWIST THE BISCUIT CUTTER IN THE DOUGH OR THE BISCUITS WON”T RISE.
That was it. I was twisting the cutter into the dough to help break it away from the rest of the dough. Huge mistake. So last night I as I was cutting out the rest of the biscuits, I took care not to twist the cutter. About 10 minutes into the cooking time, I cut on the light to the oven to peek at the action. They were rising! Finally, I solved my mystery. You can ask my husband, I was so happy! I am still kind of on a high and it’s been over 24 hours.
Once the biscuits were finished we ate them enjoyed them with fried chicken, homemade potato salad, green beans, and Coca-Cola. I am pretty sure I am going to live happily ever after!