I got the sudden urge for biscuits and gravy this morning, so on my way home from an errand, I decided I'd just go home and make some. It took me many years to learn to make biscuits "the way Mom does," but I'm pretty confident about making them now. Mom made them different from most recipes I've found in that she never added fat to them. When I'd mention this, people wouldn't believe that you could make a good biscuit without fat added.
I might have believed it myself, because, as I said, it took many years before I could make them. I watched Mom from start to finish, I asked for measurements, I tried and tried and they just never turned out good. I don't know how many pans of hard biscuits, doughy biscuits and otherwise inedible biscuits I tried to pawn off on the dog. Sometimes the chickens wouldn't even eat them.
In desperation, one day I thought I'd do it exactly like Mom - hardly thinking of what I was doing, just doing it. I set my mind to other things, got out the flour and salt and baking powder and threw them together in a bowl. Was that enough? Maybe just a little more... a little more. There, that ought to do it. Now, the salt... sprinkle, sprinkle... a little bit more. More? Ok.
I mixed it up, poured in some milk, mixed and patted it out on the table to be cut into biscuits, just like Mom did. That's the first time my biscuits tasted just like Mom's. Not too light, not too heavy and just right to sop up some milk gravy or dripping butter.
I learned the gravy the same way, too. Don't worry about it. Put in some fat, some flour, stir it up and let it cook a minute, then dump in the milk. Really. It worked for me, anyway.
This morning's biscuits though were a little different. I was using leftover powdered milk and didn't have quite enough, so I decided to use the dab of leftover reconstituted condensed milk. As I rinsed the container, I realized it was a little sour - too late. The biscuits were mixed and cut, waiting in the pan. Oh, well...
Then I noticed a flame in the bottom of the oven. I'd baked fruitcake and forgot that it had risen over the pans and spilled onto the oven floor. Baking soda put the flame out quickly, but the oven smelled like... well, like something had burned in it. I aired it out a few minutes, and turned the heat down 10 degrees, hoping that the fire wouldn't start again.
It turned out pretty good, after all. The biscuits rose without baking soda and the fire stayed dead with it. What more could I ask? :)