Great Granddaddy Suiter found himself raising four little children all by himself when his first wife died. This would be no easy feat nowadays. I can’t imagine the agony he must have gone through. There was no time for grieving. He had land to farm and wee ones to raise. My Great Grandmother, Sarah Frances Sutton, was twenty- one years old when she married Great Granddaddy Suiter. They say she was breathtaking. All four of his children were just mesmerized by her. It was my sweet old Great Uncle Buck that was the realist. When Sarah was brought home to meet them, Uncle Buck whispered in his daddy’s ear a very important question. “Does this mean we get to have biscuits again?” My Great Grandmother, Sarah, had eight more children with Great Granddaddy Suiter. One of those children was my MawMaw. Oh, the stories she would tell!
I grew up watching MawMaw, Mamma and Granny make biscuits from scratch. There was no recipe. They did it until it looked right. The secret was in the fat. It had to be ice cold or the biscuits ended up making great door stops. A meal was not complete without those flaky clouds of perfection. After winning biscuit making contests as a child, I went through a period in my life when I could not make a biscuit to save my soul. I was over thinking the process. As I have come full circle, “doing it ‘til it looks right” has become a common skill set in my cooking. Keeping a recipe simple and using quality ingredients are keys to success in my kitchen.
Recently, I was invited to try some of Executive Chef Garrett Pittler’s creations at The Row Kitchen and Pub. What a fun afternoon I had! Everything down to his barbecue sauces are made from scratch. He has fun pickling just about anything you can imagine. My favorite was his smokin’okra pickles. Finding a brisket sandwich around here that’s any count, sometimes can be an ordeal. He served up one that would put a grin on Pank’s face! It was his biscuits and jam that won my heart! Chef Garrett used his grandmother’s recipes as inspiration to create tomato, blackberry and refrigerator strawberry jams. These were the kind of jams that drip down the side of your hand. Before manners kick in, you lick it all up in one swoop. We didn’t discuss his biscuit recipe, but I can assure you that he “did it ‘til it looked right.” Good lord, I could have eaten the whole batch! Chef Garrett grew up in New York, but he found his way South where his talent shines!
What I grew up calling “just good, old country food” has found its way into the American palate in a large way. Not too long ago, the only places that served “just good, old country food” handed you a cafeteria tray and offered a tooth pick dispenser at the cash register. Those restaurants still have a very important role in the fabric of Southern Cuisine. Meanwhile, it sure is nice to be able to pair a locally crafted beer, spirit or wine with food which we find comfort. Yes, Uncle Buck… this means we get to have biscuits again!