She asked if I would make biscuits sometime.
Of course, I said; it isn’t difficult.
It is for her, she explained; they come out hard as hockey pucks.
I suspected that the problem might have been one of measurement. If she took flour from the canister by the scoop-and-level method, it would be easy to get too much, and end up with a weightier biscuit than she wanted. Or maybe I have very low standards where biscuits are concerned, and mine come out hockey pucks, too.
After ascertaining that the gold standard against which all biscuits would be measured were not her beloved Nana’s, I agreed, and planned to bake them for Saturday breakfast.
The hardest part, it turned out, was finding the kitchen scale. It wasn’t on the small-appliance shelves. It wasn’t with the measuring cups, or alongside the baking tins, or even in the back of the knife drawer. I knew we’d put it somewhere logical, but the logic eluded me. About to give up and do the best I could with scoop-and-level, I pulled the flour canister from its cupboard and —voila!—there it was.
Our scale is a simple device–one button to turn it on and tare (a function that re-zeroes the scale to allow for the weight of the container set on its platform), one to switch the display between ounces and grams, and, of course, the weighing platform. Ours may not be quite as accurate as I hoped; I could get 15.99 ounces of flour or 16.03, but nothing in between. Perhaps I could use tweezers to add the flour one grain at a time, or perhaps I should not worry about such incredibly fine distinctions.
The key to biscuit preparation, says Uncle Alton, is to handle the dough as little as possible so as not to warm the butter and shortening. His grandmother’s hands were colder than his own (probably due to poor circulation), so her biscuits were always lighter than his. Although my hands are frequently cold, I took no chances; I stowed the fats in the fridge while roasting some bacon to have with the biscuits and fruit.
Breakfast was served. “I should do the biscuit baking from now on?” She nodded enthusiastically, far too polite to speak with her mouth full. I don’t know if it was the precise measurement or the chilled fats, but the result was most decidedly not a pan of hockey pucks.
And she’d know. While she probably has never tried to eat one, she’s certainly seen plenty of them; her father used to take her to games every weekend as a child.
We stopped for burgers on Saturday evening, and I noticed her glancing at the Notre Dame-Indiana game on big-screen TV above the condiment counter.
“We’re not far from Yale,” she said. “We should see a hockey game before the season ends.”
I asked if she was sure she wanted me to see her at a hockey game.
“What, afraid you won’t love me any more?”
It wasn’t that at all; I was just recalling that she’d told me once, “I’m convinced I’d be a pacifist if I weren’t a hockey fan.” Apparently I looked at her gape-mouthed, and she explained: at one of those games she saw when she was four, she yelled, “Daddy, make those skater mans fight again!”
Fortunately, we don’t fight. But I’ll make sure to remember where the scale is stored in case things get ugly; that way our biscuits will be too light to cause any damage if they’re thrown.
The bacon was pronounced good, too. And her apple butter, on that biscuit half, is pretty superb. (Sadly, the steam rising from the biscuit when it was split did not photograph well.)