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Tom Chaney: How Many Biscuits Can You Eat?

Of Writers And Their Books: How Many Biscuits Can You Eat? Tom turns to a matter of high urgency and utmost seriousness: Biscuits. This column first appeared 30 August 2009.
The next earlier Tom Chaney column: When the Guns Are Turned

By Tom Chaney

How Many Biscuits Can You Eat?

For one week I shall lay aside the frivolous job of writing about books for a matter of high urgency and of the utmost seriousness. Biscuits.

When the ancients spoke of the gods dining on ambrosia, I think I know of what they spoke. 'Twas of cornbread and biscuits -- not the salad made of marshmallows, canned fruit, and the sawdust of shredded coconut.

And in the Christian hereafter some will be blessed to dine on those biscuits in heaven, whilst the rest of us labor at the ovens below to get 'em ready. And those cows that give the heavenly milk (and the butter made from it) will not be Holstein but Jersey. And the bees that make the celestial honey will buzz about in lush clover all day.

All of that in the land of milk and honey (with butter) on biscuits -- where the lion gently roareth, the columbine twineth (in love knots both to the right and to the left), and the whangdoodle shall be reunited with her first-born to mourn no more.

But until that blessed time, we must get biscuits right.

I am not as the narrow minded fundamentalist who knows he has the only way. Others have made fine biscuits before me. I shed tears when I remember the biscuits at the old Mammoth Cave Hotel. They were baked in small batches -- brung hot to the table fresh from the coal fired ovens. Slathered they were with the nicely stacked little pats of butter lining an ice-filled bowl, served with a fork with tiny tines -- the perfect foundation for the Sexton's cherry preserves.

It is less certain that others who come after will make as fine a biscuit as I can turn out. Our culture is increasingly dedicated to speed and the dreaded convenience of fotched-on mixes or of 'whop' biscuits in the pasteboard tube.

Some months ago a friend invited me to dine with him if I would bring biscuits. I took enough so that he could freeze the extra for a Sunday morning breakfast. He found them in his freezer a couple of weeks ago and called to pay tribute to my biscuit making.

That friend lives in the Over-the-Green section of Hart County.

The real problem came later. Another friend (Isn't it nice to have two friends?) was headed for the north woods of Minnesota.

They've got wonderful food in those parts. I have been there and returned to tell the tale. But they suffer a biscuit deficit. My friend wished to remedy that situation and asked for my biscuit receipt. I told him what to do over the telephone. Evidently he followed my instructions to the letter and was greeted with justifiable acclaim.

He returned to the Bluegrass in near complete triumph; however, one of his several lady friends asked him what he used to cut out his biscuits. "A biscuit cutter," he replied.

"You should have used a knife," she huffed "When you make round biscuits you have all that in-between dough left over. When you shape that into biscuits, they come out tough."

My friend was distraught and called for my advice. My response consisted of the highest expletive of which I was capable: "FAUGH!"

Upon reflection, I modified that to a simple "Damn!" when I realized that the complainant had northern roots -- that land which thrives on cold bread save for morning toast.

I have faced this criticism before. The only answer I know is that biscuits are round. They have always been round. They always will be round. Those quit biscuits that may be a mite tough are there as signals to your guests that the biscuits are running out, and you'd better take two and butter them not only while they are hot, but while the supply lasts.

Some years ago one of the finest cooks I know tried to persuade me to make square biscuits. She huffed up a number of arguments, but her kicker, she thought, was that Martha Stewart makes square biscuits.

A few weeks later Ms Stewart became a guest of the government at their cross bars hotel -- not, as the news would have it, for insider trading. I have it on the highest authority that her incarceration was based on the fact that she served square biscuits.

So there!

Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Email: Tom Chaney

This story was posted on 2014-08-31 06:06:27
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