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Monday, 3 December 2012

TEA BISCUITS and IN-LAWS


My mother, Mary, was 19 years old when she married my father, Nick, in 1931.

     Soon after they were married, Nick took Mary to visit his parents, John and Teklya (Balaban).  His cousin, Mrs. Zegalski, was visiting, too.

     Three of Dad's brothers were over 6 feet tall and it looks as though Baba Stadnyk was a tall, strong woman, too.


     John had a sick horse and Teklya was moaning that her stomach was upset because of the sick horse.  Mary thought Teklya was peculiar.

     Nick suggested to Mary, “You could make some of those biscuits.”

    Teklya nodded, “Biscuits would be good.”

     Mary thought that it was odd but she did as she was asked.

    For dessert, after supper, Teklya brought Mary’s biscuits to the table.    She didn’t look pleased.  “That’s what Mary made,” she said. 

     Nick frowned.  “Mama has butter,” he told Mary.  “You could have made those other biscuits.”

     Too late, Mary realized Nick had meant cookies.

*************

Both of Dad’s parents passed away before I was born.

Since I loved my mom’s biscuits, I couldn't understand why Baba Stadnyk wasn't satisfied.

MARY STADNYK’S BISCUIT RECIPE
4 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups cream or more

Mix it lightly. 
Pat it on table to shape about ½ inch thick and cut into circles.
Put on lower rack for 10 minutes, then move to higher rack.

*************

The first time I ever made biscuits was for a dinner party.   I was a new bride and
 the biscuits were rock hard.

 I don’t think I used Mom’s recipe.

Nevertheless, I set out to find a recipe that would work for me. 

Here it is:

PERFECT BISCUITS 
Adapted from The New Purity Cookbook:  The Complete Guide to Canadian Cooking


                2 cups flour
                2 ½ tsp baking powder
                ¼ tsp salt

                1/2 cup soft butter
               1 cup milk
                 
1.     Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.     Grease a baking sheet.
3.     Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in food processor.
4.     Add butter and process to fine crumbs.
5.     Turn flour mixture into a mixing bowl.
6.     Stir milk into flour, stirring only long enough to combine.
(The secret to tender biscuits is minimum handling.)
8.     Drop about 6 to 8 large spoonfuls onto baking sheet.


9.     Bake for 15 minutes.


I turned the heat up to 450 for the last 5 minutes so that the biscuits would brown nicely.  This really depends on your oven.

(Makes 6 – 8 biscuits)


**************
In fact, I love biscuits so much that I remember making so many one year that it became

 The Year of the Biscuit.

What made this possible is that biscuits lend themselves to endless variations.


 CINNAMON WALNUT TEA BISCUITS

To the dry ingredients, add ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and
4 teaspoons sugar

(Bryan baked these for 18 minutes at 450 degrees.  But that's our oven.) 


Serve with apricot jam.  

SCRUMPTIOUS!