How to celebrate the too-seldom gathering of one's offspring? (More importantly, how to occupy one's mind and hands when the young folk are on the road?) How to tempt a repeat visit before too much more time passes?
Two words: Yeast Biscuits.
Sinfully good for breakfast. lunch, or supper. Easy to make if you know a few tricks. A great way to fill the kitchen with welcoming fragrance. A sure-fire way to gain back those three pounds you worked so hard to lose.
Combine and allow to foam: 1/4 cup warm water; 2 Tbsp sugar; 2 Tbsp active dry yeast (or two packages, which amount to slightly less)
Mix: 5 cups self-rising flour, 1 tsp. baking soda
(Self-rising flour is plain old flour that has baking powder and salt already added. You can look up the proportions and do it yourself, but the individual I got this recipe from was slightly lazy.)
Cut in 1 cup shortening-- (I use1 bar of Crisco, though butter would be, well, fabulous.)
Add the yeast mixture and 2 cups of buttermilk. (My preference is Bulgarian buttermilk; if you are desperate, add 1 tsp lemon juice for each cup milk and allow to stand 10 minutes. But keep in mind, buttermilk lasts forever and makes fab pancakes, so go ahead and buy the real thing. And, yes, some people are willing to consume buttermilk as a beverage, but I am not one of them...shudder.)
Mix well to get a rough dough--it will not be smooth and elastic like bread dough. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Keeps one week. (If you get some discoloration, ignore it.)
You can bake anything from two rolls to the whole shooting match.
To prepare biscuits:
Pull out desired amount of dough and put on floured board. (Well, to be honest, I just use the clean counter top.) Grease a baking pan or sheet; yes, even if it's nonstick. Lightly knead your dough 2-3 times, pat or roll out to 1/2" thickness, and cut into rounds. If you are so benighted as to lack a cutter, use a thin-lipped glass or just criss-cross with a knife into even squares. Space about 1" apart. Allow these to rise for a while; I cover with a damp dish towel, and I wait up to an hour to bake. Preheat oven to 375-400; ovens vary, so be flexible. You don't want the bottom too browned and hard before the top is nicely tan. They will bake in 10 to 15 minutes; check one--you do not want a wet, doughy center. Serve with butter; nothing else is really fair. These go with everything-- jam, eggs and bacon, blue-gill fillets-- honest, it's hard to go wrong.
This is my version of a recipe from a Prudence Hilburn cookbook, Treasury of Southern Baking. My maiden name was Hilburn, and I just had to check the book out of the library..... I think she does a few things wrong, but she might have jumped the rails one way or another. I myself married a Yankee, so I point no fingers.