When I was a teenager, making biscuits from scratch was a rite of passage.
I am a southerner, and I learned to make buttermilk biscuits at my mom’s side.
My sister took over biscuit making first. She watched mom and practiced the nightly chore, and we ate the biscuits. Soon, hers were as good as mom’s.
Then it was my turn. Evening after evening, mom had me watch as she or my sister, Shirley, made the biscuits. There was no recipe. There was art.
There was an art to making the well in the flour, adding the Crisco and the buttermilk, and working it all just enough to make a tender dough. There was art in the pinching off of the dough and shaping it into the perfect size to put into the pan. There was even art in the final pat on the top of each biscuit before the pan slid into the oven.
When I had watched enough, I began practicing the art.
My first biscuits were ragged, and heavy with flour, but they went on the table. We didn’t waste food.
What I remember, though, is that they were not criticized – ever. No one was allowed to make fun of the biscuits. Mom might redirect an action in the making of the biscuits, but she didn’t take over the chore from me. She just had me keep practicing.
Night after night, pan after pan, I made biscuits. And my brothers and sister and dad and mom ate them without complaint.
I got tired of making biscuits, so I made them really big. Bigger biscuits meant less time shaping them in my hand. Still, no criticism, no complaints. Instead, my mom would compliment the improved texture, the lightness, the color. I was improving.
When I think of my mom, I think of biscuits. I think of gentle guidance, trust in my ability, and encouragement. It is a good memory.
Without planning to, she taught me the basic principles of instruction. Precept upon precept, line upon line. Modeling. Guided practice. Independent practice. All laced with sincere encouragement and praise.
All the same principles that I have used and taught throughout my career in education.
What a treasure to remember the kind patience and the quiet pride of accomplishment wrapped up in a pan of biscuits.
Several years ago, age and the undesired settling of weight stopped me from making biscuits every night, but occasionally I will pull out the pan and make a batch to eat with fresh tomatoes. The muscle memory gained from countless hours of practice kicks in and those biscuits appear – like magic. I can still make a fine biscuit.
Mom was a good teacher.
Parents may struggle with the everyday task of teaching good things to their children. I am sure my mom must have silently rolled her eyes at the huge biscuits I produced to demonstrate my unwillingness to do the task. Parents may think that the children won’t remember, but they will. They will.
So, teach good things.
Titus 2:2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
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