There are no two greater ironic comparisons than that of a biscuit and life. For over two decades, I'd feverishly tried to bake biscuits. Being a baking 'connoisseur,' I was quite disheartened that I could easily knead & bake home-made yeast, cinnamon rolls and croissants - but try as I did, I could never grasp the technique of making southern-baked biscuits. Regardless whether I used the quick mix or home-made recipe kind, somehow my biscuits either came out of the oven with the texture of mortar, fell apart like charcoal briquettes or tasted like salty play-doh. In any event, it was my solemn quest to bake these tasty breakfast breads some time before I die.
It was almost embarrassing whenever I would makes the Shoney's type breakfasts without the biscuits. While my kids were small, they pined for the buttery taste of home-baked biscuits...of course that never happened. I did attempt to make them countless times, but each time I retrieved them from the oven, they got harder and harder. At one point, I even thought about marketing them as indestructible bricks for housing contractors. But my family was fairly nice to me. They would 'try' them from time to time, and in most cases, nearly chipped their teeth.
I would excuse myself for the poorly-made biscuits by stating, "...I simply don't have enough Southern blood in me..." And that was that. But, I still had this innate and sick compelling drive to create the ultimate biscuit. I could do everything else, why the heck couldn't I bake a silly biscuit??? It was then that I went to visit my Aunt in Tennessee who baked the most wonderful, breathtaking, mouthwatering biscuits. And she did it so easily. I was silently amazed by the ease of her fascinating maneuvers. My kids, hubby and I sat down to eat her fabulous biscuits and gravy - and they were better than good. Then my son piped up, "...why can't you make these biscuits, Mom?" And as usual, I told him that I just wasn't 'southern' enough.
Curiosity got the best of me though, as I pulled my aunt aside and asked her, "How did you get those biscuits to turn out so good?" She explained that all she used was butter-flavored Crisco, some milk, salt, baking powder and flour. "Huh?" That just could not be. These were the exact same ingredients I had been using for over two decades. This was just not possible. Then she filled me in on a little secret: "It's the flour sifter. I have to use a flour sifter to get the flour to be lighter." Filled with the new information, I was devastated. A stupid flour sifter did all that??
So what did I do? I continued at my attempts at making biscuits my conventional way...which always ended in complete disaster. Finally, the other day, I broke down and bought a flour sifter. A small, can-shaped mechanism that turned flour through a sieve. I used all the same ingredients once again. This time I was smarter though - I only made half a batch just in case they didn't turn out. No need to waste good ingredients, I thought. Funny thing was that when I patted down the dough, it felt lighter, silkier and bigger. Okay, it's just a glitch, I thought again, there was no way on earth that these biscuits would turn out right.
Next, I cut them into rounded shapes (like before) and placed them on an ungreased baking sheet. Whew! I felt like a school girl taking her final exam to pass class. Setting the timer for 10 minutes, I constantly went back and forth to check these obviously mal-attempted biscuits. When the buzzer beeped, I retrieved the baked goods. They had actually risen... and they didn't weigh a ton either. Something had to be wrong with them though...afterall, I had baked them. Now came the taste test...fluffy, flaky, tasty. Viola! I had baked a batch of biscuits that were actually edible. I couldn't believe it myself.
It was then that I had a sudden realization. All the years I had tried to bake the perfect biscuit, I had all the right ingredients, but I didn't have the right tool to accommodate the final product. The sad part was that the tool was there all along, I just had to go out, get it and use it. And it was that enlightening moment that I also realized that biscuits can teach a person about life. We all have the right ingredients to achieve our goals in life, but sometimes if we aren't using the appropriate tools, we set ourselves up for failure. Thus, when we utilize tools that are virtually always with us - such as logic, faith, commitment, hope and so much more, then we ultimately can attain our life's fulfillment. Is life like baking a biscuit? Maybe not exactly, but it surely can make one see the sweet irony of this simple metaphor.
© How a Biscuit Taught Me a Priceless Lesson in Life