Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bea's Biscuits

Mary Elizabeth Stallings.  She was my great aunt and she meant EVERYTHING to me.  My maternal grandmother (Nanny) passed away when I was in the 4th grade and my paternal grandmother (Maw Maw) in the 5th grade.  For all intents and purposes she was my grandmother and I loved her with all my heart.  I believe my dad is responsible for naming her "Bea" but that can't be verified.

Side note: I just recently learned it's "intents and purposes" which makes way more sense than "intensive purposes." Who knew?  Not this kid.

I have so many great memories growing up with her.  That river runs so deep that I won't even attempt to describe what the following memories mean to me, but here are a few highlights:
  • She smoked Virginia Slims.  The REALLY long ones.  She (like every self-respecting southern lady) always had lipstick on, which meant that Bea's ashtray was filled with 100's of butts with lipstick stains.  Both her and Maw Maw had ashtrays, that in my young age, I knew to be ridiculously too large, but they were always full.  Weird.
  • She was a member of Eastern Star.  I asked her about it around the time I started reading Dan Brown books.  It went a little something like this:
    • Me: Bea, are you in a secret society?
    • Bea: Love, we are a society and we have secrets, but we are not a secret society.
  • Thanksgivings at her house were so magical it brings tears to my eyes (if I actually cried).
But hands down the most memorable moments that I have with this woman revolved around breakfast.  I'm not talking a McDonald's bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit with hashbrowns mess.  I'm talking about a "slap your mama" this is the best breakfast I've ever had type breakfast.  I have no doubt that when I die I will awaken to the smell of coffee, eggs, bacon, and Bea's BISCUITS.  Instead of a sweet old lady in a housecoat from the seventies it will be Jesus with a big smile on his face.

When I began to realize that my time with Bea was drawing to an end, I made sure to ask her to teach me how to make those glorious biscuits.  I took comically detailed notes.  If you've ever cooked with a southern woman you know how difficult it is to learn their favorite recipe.  Why you ask?  Because it's not written down and it damn sure isn't measured.  She taught me from the "look" of it.  I believe this to be a pride issue that is bred in us.  We think, "No one could possibly make [insert dish here] better than me, but if there's a chance she could then I'm not helping her figure it out." So here's the recipe to Bea's Biscuits.  I'm hoping that I'll have it perfected for my grandchildren.  As it is now I get it right about once for every four misses. No one else really notices but I do. 

Bea's Biscuits (the short hand version)
  • Bowl of self-rising flour
    • She made sure to tell me that she's been told over and over that you don't have to sift today's flour, but she still likes to do it.  It's the way she's always made them so there's no need to change now.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
    • I'd also like to note that she measured this in her hand and I made her put it in a teaspoon.  When I say it was exactly 1/4 teaspoon, I mean it.  Wow.
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 scoops of Crisco about the size of an egg
  • Work everything together
  • Pull about a golf ball size portion of dough and coat in flour and roll into a ball (She seriously spent about 10 minutes with me explaining how to roll it into the ball.) 
  • Place in pan and pat them all on the head.  No joke.
    • A recent Alton Brown episode explains the "pat them on the head" gesture - the biscuit rises the most in the middle so you should press the middle down to make them more uniform.   
  • Serves 8 - 10
  • Bake at 450 degrees for about 10 - 15 minutes


  1. intents and purposes! what! the things you learn on the internet.
    thank you for attempting to share and document this recipe. like you said...you southern women...what does "bowl of self rising flour" mean? how big is the bowl? how much flour?

  2. love this post.

    Me too. Love these biscuits. I wonder if I can make them gluten free. Now that would be heaven for me.