Southern Home Made Biscuits Ahhh!!

I have been making biscuits since I was about ten years old.  My mom taught me to make them the way she did which wasn’t that much fun or easy.  She put flour in a large bowl, took her fist and made a well in the middle by pressing the flour down.  After that, she would put in the buttermilk and shortening.  I think it was lard back in those days and take her hand and squeeze the milk and lard together as she pulled in a bit of flour from the edges until she had the dough form a ball.  That wasn’t fun because the milk would be too cold and when I was finished, my fingers were freezing.  Then I had to pinch off a bit of the dough and roll it between floured hands and put them in a pan close together.

Times changed and so did the way I made biscuits.  In time, I figured out that I could measure the flour into the bowl, add the shortening and then buttermilk.  It has to be the right kind of ingredients.   In the south, we use soft winter flour.  My personal choice is White Lily and I always use Crisco.  I never buy a knock off brand or store brand of solid shortening.  Crisco is all I ever use.

One has to have a dough cutter to cut the shortening into the flour.  Cut the shortening until it forms little pea size bits.  Then add the buttermilk and stir until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl.  Don’t overwork it.  Be very careful to be gentle with the dough for soft biscuits.  A stainless steel bowl or a glass bowl is what I use.  Never use aluminum.  It isn’t good because the biscuits can take on a bad taste from being mixed in aluminum.   Most folks know not to cook in aluminum now days anyway.

When the dough is ready, I have a board or a clean counter top ready with flour that I have sprinkled on it.  I turn the dough out and (very gently) pad it down to about 3/4″ to 1″ flat.  I then take a sharp biscuit cutter to cut them quickly. Never twist the cutter just press down until the biscuit is cut though.  One can make a biscuit cutter out of a vegetable can if they do not have one.  Be sure to flip the biscuit when you put it in the pan.  When the cutter presses down on the dough, it needs to be flipped to get the biscuits to rise correctly.  Many people do not know this trick but I learned as I went.

I put the biscuits in a dark pan that has been lightly greased.  They cook at 450 degrees until the tops are nice and golden brown.  Using a dark pan will ensure that the bottoms will be brown too.  What I want in a biscuit is for it to be golden brown with a crust on the outside and soft on the inside.  There isn’t a man in the south who would not love having a great home made biscuit for breakfast.  Heck, he might eat a half dozen.  So, if you are cooking for a man, make sure to cook plenty.  Biscuits can be kept in a covered bowl for a few days on the counter. Did you notice the little biscuit on the plate?  That is what we call a baby biscuit.  If there is any dough left, we use it even if it isn’t large as the rest.  Thus, at my home, they are called baby biscuits.  The children would fight over who got that one.  Too sweet just thinking about it.

What I like to do with old biscuits is to split them open, but butter or margarine on both sides and sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  Then I pop them under the broiler until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.  I have had friends visit from other parts of the country and when I made cinnamon biscuits from old ones, they simply loved them.

Don’t say you can’t make a good biscuit.  There were many things in life that you once couldn’t do but practice will prefect them.  I worked on making them forever and now, it is second nature to make them.  It will be for you too if you keep at it.

Look on the side of any bag of flour for the recipe.  I don’t need to tell you because I use the same amount of ingredients.  The thing with me now is that I don’t have to measure.  I have cooked them so long that I can just look at the amount going in and know if it is right.

Here is what the ingredients look like that I use.  You may not can find them in your part of the country but I will try to find a place so you can order them.

Crisco Shortening

White Lily Flour

One last thing and that is buttermilk.  Don’t try making biscuits with really drinking milk.  The buttermilk makes them worth eating.  In fact, one of my favorite moments is when the biscuits come out of the oven and I hold the pan up to smell them.  Ahhh, there is nothing like a buttermilk make biscuit.

Barber's Buttermilk.

Now, get busy and give it a try.  Your family will love you for putting a great bread on the table.  They aren’t hard to make and they sure beat making bread that has to be kneed.  Never, never knead them.  Good luck and have fun.  Baking is a joy to me and I hope it will be for you too.


Cleaning Up For Your Children

Rose In Memory of His Father

I just returned from helping a friend who needed to clear his parents home of fifty years of accumulated things.    It was not anything that could be done in two months.  When I first flew up, my plans were to stay for a month but I changed my mind.

People do not realize as they live their lives each day that something may or can happen to them tomorrow.  We all are guilty of keeping too many things that are not needed in our home.  On top of that, may people will not let go of things and rent storage to put them in.

His father was a doctor and had retired.  When he did, he bought home everything even the table he used to examine people.  He bought home drugs,  medical records and anything else that was there.  Even the posters that were on his walls.  I wonder if it ever occurred to him to just throw away most of the things.  We had to contact a group to disposes of medicines the proper way.  Now, my friend will have to jump through hoops just trying to do the proper thing about getting rid of the medical records.  His dad was not doing well mentally but no one understood that until his mother had a stroke.

His mother sewed.  She did brilliant embroidery work and had so many extra supplies  from years and years ago.  I know because she still had thread on wooden spools.  She had boxes and boxes of buttons, old sewing needles, yarn, knitting needles and fabric.  You name it and she had it.  She loved making pretty things but when her hands started to hurt from arthritis, she had to give it up.

What does keeping all of these things matter?  It matters a lot when someone else has to clean it out of a home.  One thing is certain, I came home with a new view on how I will leave my home to my children once I am gone.  It isn’t fair to expect our children to come behind us to clean up our mess.  A mess that we just didn’t take the time to clean up or one that we were not thinking was even there.  Sometimes, I feel that people do not realize that when they  put a receipt for something in a drawer that unless they are diligent in cleaning out their drawers and closets often, that receipt may be there 30 years later.  We found receipts from fifty years ago.

My friend feels overwhelmed.  He felt that way while I was there.  Before his father died, we had some  fun even in the middle of trying to make sense of all that was in the home.  Afterward, the fun stopped as he was grieving.  Not only was he grieving but he was angry.  I understand because that it is one of the  first steps of grief.  He didn’t understand.  When I would try to talk to him about it, he wasn’t interested.  It is hard to watch a person grieve knowing that there is nothing anyone can do.  That is a journey that a person has to make alone in life.  Sure good friends can reach out to them and try to give comfort but in the end, they will have to walk though that time alone.  We all do.  I have made that journey many times in my life.

In the mean time, his mom is still in a nursing home.  They are not treating her well.  Since she is in another state where is brother lives, it is hard for him to get there to see her as much as he would like.  He worries about her.  So, in the middle of grieving for his father, worrying about his mother, not being employed at the time, he still has to clean out this house by himself.  He is angry, confused, dazed and dismayed at what to do with everything.  He doesn’t have time to sell a lot of things since he needs to be looking for a job.  I know what he is going though since I was there.  It is like trying to reach the top of a mountain with branches of trees hitting you in the face with every step.    My heart goes out to my friend.  I would not wish this on anyone.

So, if your home is filled with paperwork that isn’t necessary, get rid of it.  If you have old clothes give them away.  Thin out the number of dishes you have in your kitchen.  When we reach a certain age, we do not entertain like we once did.  Do you really need all of those pots and pans in the kitchen?  When was the last time you cleaned out your closets, drawers or even the pantry?

Do your family a huge favor and save them from having to clean up after you when you are gone.  We never know when that day will come.  I plan to start with my project of cleaning out my home this week.  I would not like to  think of my children here in my home being unhappy when if I had planned like I should have, they would have little to do.  Burying your parents is bad enough.

Woman vs Lawn Mower

I wish that was me. However, I live along and when thing have to be done around my home, I either do it or have to pay to have it done.

Wishful Thinking on my part

Before today, I knew how to put gas and oil in the mower along with how to clean the air filter and change the spark plug.  Now, I can say that I know a few more things.  Now, I know where the carburetor is located.  I didn’t say I can work on it just that I know where it is. 🙂

My mower is used by me and my neighbor who is a good friend.  I can’t denie her anything because she has always been so good to me.

When I tried to start it a few days ago, it wouldn’t.  It had always started with the first pull of the cord.  I hate spending money on something that I might be able to do myself.  With that thought in mind, I headed for the backyard to see if I could figure out what was wrong.

The first thing I did was to empty the tank of all gas.  I should have taken it a step futher and taken the gas line off and cleaned out the tank.  I didn’t because the last time that it didn’t start, that was all I had to do.

The filter was dirty so, I took it off and cleaned it.  Later, while watching a video on lawnmower repair, the guy said that oil should be added to the filter.  Not a lot but just enough to wet it.  That kind of amazed me.  How can it breath if it has oil on it?  Oh well.

I took the spark plug out and looked at it.  It had a little bit of carbon so I took a wire brush and cleaned it up and put it back in.  Then I noticed that the line that controls the air flow to the carburetor was loose.  I put it back in place but it had a tear near the end.  Back to the house to get some electrical tape to fix that for now.  All I wanted was for the thing to start.

I made a hundred trips from the back yard where the mower was to the house for either tools or to watch videos on repairing the mower.  The walking tired me out more than working on it.  Plus, it was hot.  In the south this time of year, it is always hot and humid.  I hate it. Another thing I did when I came inside was to get the grease off my hands.  I know.  I am a sissy.

I did just about all anyone could do without taking the carburetor off to see if it had trash it in.  Tomorrow, I suppose that I will tackle that too.

I learned a few things while outside battling the misquotes while working on it.  I need a table to put it on so it will be up closer to my face.  Before I tackle it again, I will find a way to get it up higher.

In my life, I have tackled just about anything that a person can.  In the end I am a lot like some men.  I end paying to have it done.   It is amazing to me that I keep  trying to do things when I don’t have a clue.  Like I said, it is probably just that I want to see if I can.  Can anyone say, bored woman? 🙂

I never thought that I would work on my mower.  However, I am stubborn and sometimes just need to know that I can still do things.  It probably wouldn’t cost that much to take it somewhere for repair.  That is a problem for me because I don’t have a truck.  I have always needed a truck so, why didn’t I buy one ten years ago when I bought a new car?  Brain dead probably.

What I really need is one like this.  There is a for sale sign on it.  I think I will buy it tomorrow.  This one just needs cleaning up a bit and some paint and I will be ready to go.

A Counter Full of Laundry Detergent

I finally made the laundry detergent that I blogged about a few weeks ago.  It was so easy and I wanted y’all to see my finished product.  Hey, it looks like I have many different types of detergent because I have been saving the empty bottles to put my freshly made detergent in.

I suppose it is clear from the bottles that I am not a fan of any certain brand.  Whatever is on sale is what I usually buy.  Thank goodness those days are over.  No more paying big prices for something that I can make in my kitchen.  Plus, since it only cost about 4 cents per load to wash my clothes, that is more money in my pocket for other things.

I hope my grandchildren do not come over and think the detergent in the milk jug is for drinking.  Talking about washing their mouth out.  Hoot woot…that wouldn’t be any fun.

Maybe one day, I can be another Martha Stewart.  Hey, how do y’all think she got started?  🙂

Oops, not like that.  I don’t want to go to jail.  All I want is to be famous and make tons of money like she did.

Forgive me Martha.  I just couldn’t help it. 😉

Making Laundry Detergent in My Kitchen

Woot Hoot…I never thought that I would made laundry detergent but after making it today, I may never buy it from the store again.  How simple can it be?  I will tell ya.  Easier than making a pie or for real easier than washing the dishes.

I will give y’all the recipe.  Different versions can be found all over the web.

1/2 cup of Borax

1/2 cup of Washing Soda

1/3 bar of Fels-Naptha Soap

Don’t let the name of the soap throw ya.  It can be found.  I found it at Ace Hardware.  They will order it for you if they do not have it in stock.  Y’all can find the washing soda there too.  Borax is on every grocery shelf  in the nation I am fairly sure.  Now, don’t pay 3 or 4 dollars a bar because they is just insane.  I paid about $1.40 for one bar.

If only my mother could see me now.  She would be so proud that her country daughter who decided to move to the city making soap in her kitchen today.

Y’all will need a two gallon bucket to compete this job.  Since I made two batches, I used a 5 gallon paint bucket.

Get out your cutting board and chop the soap into tiny little pieces.  Add 4 cups of water to a 4 quart pan and add the soap to it.  Let it simmer until the soap is melted.   Take off the stove eye and add the washing soda and borax to it and stir real well until it dissolves.  That doesn’t take but a minute.

Add this mixture to 4 cups of hot water in the 2 gallon container.  Stir again.  Now, you will add the rest of the water which is 1 gallon plus, 6 cups of cold water.  Y’all need to let this sit for about 24 hours.  Tomorrow, it will be sort of like a jell but do not expect it to look like what you buy at the store.  Pour it into some containers that you have for this.  Y’all can use gallon milk jugs or y’all could use the laundry detergent containers where you have run out of detergent.  If y’all do, make sure that they no longer have the old soap in them.  We are making something that far surpasses what one buys at the store and listen to this.  Y’all will be spending about 4 cents per load to wash y’all clothes.

Oh and one more thing.  Make sure to shake this soap before adding it to your laundry each time.  Just make sure that it is blended real well.  This soap does not make suds.  The suds isn’t what cleans the clothes.  If y’all can’t live without suds, just add about a half bottle of Joy dish washing soap to it.  I would not but hey, women have their quirks.  Another thing that can be done is too add some fragrance such as lilacs but the soap has a pretty smell so why mess with it?

Isn’t that worth going to just a tad of trouble to make this great soap?  In my book it is. Have fun.  I expect that y’all will give this a try.  If for no other reason, y’all can talk about it at the next office party.

The Squirrel

Bad Squirrel

Animal lovers beware as this might not suit ya.  This is my story of a struggle with a neighborhood squirrel.

Right before Thanksgiving a squirrel moved into my attic.  I heard the noise but in my mind I suppose that I thought that a bird was beating against the house.  What could have I been thinking?

One night as I lay on the sofa after Thanksgiving, sick as a dog with the flu, I heard this noise in my attic.  I lay still and listened.  It was like a scratching sound.  Then I hear little feet scurrying above in the ceiling.  Dang, that is not a bird.  I do believe that a rat is in my attic.  It bothered me but there wasn’t anything that I could do since I was sick.  I lay either in my bed or on the sofa for about a week listening to something having a party in the attic.  All that was needed was music.  Thank goodness that there wasn’t any.

Monday, I decided that I had to figure out what was going on.  I got a ladder and went to the front and put it up next to the front door.  There seemed to be a hole in the eve right below the roof.  I climbed up and found a hole that had been eaten away.  I knew then that it wasn’t a rat but a squirrel.  I had seen that sign before now.  What to do?

I went to my storage building and found some pieces of wood to do a temporary mending job.  What a mess.  It looked like what we see in photos  of a hillbilly house.  I nailed the board one way and then another was nailed at an angle on top of that one.  I had to do it that way because of a gable.  I stepped down from my patch job and felt proud but ashamed at the same time.  I was pleased that the squirrel couldn’t get back in but I was also hoping that my neighbors wouldn’t be looking at my eves.  I mean the boards didn’t even have paint on them.

Oh well, I wasn’t going to have to be concerned about that too long as the squirrel was back.  I woke the next morning to the tune of the squirrel’s chatter of teeth drilling away on the boards.  What?  I was insulted.  How could he think that he could get back in after the job that I had done.  I am a person and he is only a squirrel…..a rat with a fluffy tail.  I wasn’t going to put up with it.  No sir-ree.

I went out and looked up to see that his teeth had already made a good job of whittling away at the replacement boards.  What to do?  I went into the kitchen and took down some shortening and powdered hot pepper.  I mixed the two together and smeared it on the boards.  That should do it.  I went about my business.

The next morning I woke to the sound of you guessed it…..the chatter of a squirrel’s teeth drilling away on my house.  This was getting personal.  I walked out to see the damage that had been done.  It was still OK but if he kept it up, I would have to replace those boards.  I started looking for a piece of sheet metal.  Standing  there I could visualize the squirrel eating through the metal like it was frosting on a cake.  Bingo…..that gave me a thought.

I opened the refrigerator door and took out a bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce.  I took the bottle with me and sprinkled it on the roof and the boards as I noticed that the squirrel had eaten some of the roofing too.

Later that day, I heard a thump on the front porch and went to look.  It was that squirrel looking at me dead in the eyes.  He didn’t run off.  He just sat there looking at me the same as to say, “Look what you have done to me?  I don’t have a home.  You have all of my food and now you are trying to set my  mouth on fire.”  Then he ran off, jumped up on the fence, ran across it, jumped down on the ground, back up on another fence and up a tree.  He sat on a limb for a minute and then he was gone.  I thought, well, he is gone for good.  Surely, he will not be crazy enough to try again.

However, for two days now, I have been up and down that ladder putting more hot sauce on the shingles and boards.  As I was standing in a neighbor’s yard talking, I looked at my house and this squirrel was squatted on the tallest peak of my house like a gargoyle there to scare away evil spirits.

It never occurred to me that he had stored food there until a friend suggested it to me.  Food?  Of course, squirrels live in trees but once they store their food in a tree, that is home.  My attic now was home because of his stored away winter food supply.  I wish that I could just say, “Here squirrel, come get these tasty nuts that I am putting out for you but I am afraid that he will not be interested in what I can give him.  He is only interested in what he worked so hard to get and put away for a rainy day.  I wish that he had all the nuts that make pecan trees in my shrubs each year.  Or the Magnolia seeds that sprout into small trees that he hid there.

What to do?  I think that next thing that I should do is trap him in a cage and take him to another part of the state.  I would turn him loose somewhere close by but I do not think that he will forget where I live for one minute.  Maybe I will be moved or dead and gone before he finds his way back from across the state.

Now, to find a trap in case he comes back and the neighborhood boys find out about him and make target practice of him.

Roofing It Up In The Hot South

Yesterday, the roofers showed up to put a new roof on my home.  I have had a new roof put on before this one.  This time, I was seriously impressed.

These men came prepared.  Their team work amazed me.  As they were on the roof working away in 90 degree weather, they were singing.  Amazing.  Who sings in 90 degree weather while on top of a roof?  These men.

American’s are so grouchy about their jobs.  They complain all the time.  The office is too hot or too cold.  The company doesn’t furnish coffee.  The phone rang off the hook all day.  Right.  Like it isn’t their job to answer it.  I could go on and on but y’all get the jest.

These men were contracted by a government agency to do this job.  They were Mexican.  I am so glad that I had the chance to see men working and not complaining.  It did my heart good.

When they were finishing up, they were cleaning up my yard as if it belonged to them.  I mentioned to one young man how he didn’t have to get the last bit of grass off of my landing but he said that he wanted it to look nice with a smile on his face.  I was blown away with this remark.  When they left, all that was left behind was a new roof.  One would never know that anyone had been in my yard that day.

My point is that so many Americans complain about people from Mexico living and working here.  That make me wonder just what they are really thinking.  Now, I am thinking that American’s are jealous because people come here to work and that is what they do.  They work.  They do not complain.  They just do the best job they can and are happy about it.

Living In Small Spaces

I once complained because my home is only 1100 square feet.  Then the boys grew up and moved out.  I realized then that I had more space than I needed.

This young man in Hong Kong lives in 24 rooms with only 104 meters.  It is unbelievable but wonderful.  Check it out and never complain about not having enough space.  It isn’t the space but rather how we use it.

Why Haven’t I Finished Painting?

I have been working on my bedroom for over two weeks.  The walls are nearly completed.  I peeked in this morning with dread to see just how much needs to be done for it to be completed.  Not much.  The ceiling has been primed and needs paint.  The trim needs to be painted.  I hate painting trim.

I am still sleeping on my new bed in the living room floor.  It would appear that I would want to finish this job and move into my beautiful new bedroom.  I have all new things to dress the room to make it so lovely.

I would but one day this week my lover came for a visit.  The next day I didn’t do anything but wash the dishes.  I was worn out.  Sounds crazy.  I used to make love or if one prefers, have sex and get up and be full of energy.  Not anymore.  Afterward now, I am worn out.  I have to wonder if it is the quality of the love making or just me getting older.

Dang, I hate to think it is because I am getting older.  Might be.  I think I will talk to my doctor about it next time.  I can see the look on his face when I tell him.  He is so young that is probably thinks ladies my age do not have sex.  🙂

OK….I know that y’all are wondering why I don’t get my lover to paint the room.  He said he would but that he had never painted.  Hey, I don’t know about y’all but that is a huge red flag in my book.  I had rather do it myself.

He does know how to mow grass so the next time he comes over, I think I will suggest that he mow mine before we have fun.  That should be a good test to see what his real intentions are.  Don’t ya think?

This Woman Has No Clue

I purchased a new mattress about a month ago.  While I was waiting for it to be delivered, I knew that I wanted to paint my bedroom before putting up the new bed.

It took about two weeks for the mattress to be delivered.  Instead of taking the old bed down and painting the room, I shopped for new bedding since I was changing from a king to a queen sized bed.  Not only did I buy new bedding, I bought new curtains and a comforter set along with a rug.

Here is my point, I spent all that time shopping for the room and did not paint the room.  What was I thinking?  The bed arrives and I can not take down the king bed.  I called my son to come take it down.  He stored it in another room.  My computer room.  Yuck.  I hate looking at that bed in my computer room.  But that isn’t all.  The new bed is standing next to a wall in my living room.

At night, since I do not have a bed to sleep on, I just lay the new mattress in the living room floor and sleep on it.  It is so nice to know that no one can see me trying to get up and down off of the mattress.  I am not a kid anymore but sometimes, I think that I am.

I have been spending time this week scraping, puttying, sanding and filling any imperfections.  Today, I finally was to the point where I could prime the walls.  That isn’t entirely finished because now, I need someone to help me move a big dresser.  Remember?  I said that I thought I was a kid sometimes.  The real thing is that I didn’t think this entire thing though.

Maybe in a few days, I will be finished painting and then will have to wait a day to make sure it is dry before I can move my new bed into my room.

Don’t do what I did.  Use your head for thinking instead of just growing hair.

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