Patsy’s Buttermilk Biscuits

There are times when baking powder biscuits are indispensable. Sausage gravy, for instance, demands light, tender homemade biscuits hot from the oven.

Unfortunately, mine were neither light nor tender. Though some family members have disagreed, I still think that my biscuits were edible when hot from the oven and covered with gravy or spread generously with butter and jam. And once they had cooled, they could be used for coasters, hockey pucks or skeet practice.

It took courage to make them. Every few months I would try, with no noticeable improvement. Instead of floating down on the plate, they dropped, like ceramic coasters, with an annoying clinking sound. It also took courage to eat them. My victims/guests would ask for extra gravy or more jam.

A few weeks after I mentioned the problem to my sister Patsy, who is an excellent cook, I received the following email:

“Just thought I’d pass on this recipe for biscuits. It is from my Betty Crocker Cookbook and is my favorite for buttermilk biscuits. They always turn out well for me. Give them a try sometime.”

And so I did, and they were at least ten times better than any of my earlier efforts. Here is the recipe.


2 cups flour
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 T milk


Heat the oven to 400º F and bring the buttermilk to room temperature.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening as you would for pie crust until it looks like cornmeal, and then add the buttermilk. Add a little more buttermilk if it looks too dry. Turn the dough out and knead it on a a floured board about fifteen turns, just until the dough forms a smooth ball.

Roll the dough to about a half inch thick and cut it with a water glass or doughnut cutter and place the biscuits an inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush the tops with a little milk. Bake the biscuits for ten to twelve minutes or until they are lightly browned.

NOTES: Don’t knead the dough too long or the biscuits will be tough. You may have to make these biscuits a couple of times until you can recognize when you have kneaded the dough enough but not too much. Incidentally, a turn is rolling the dough over after you press it down and turning it a quarter turn.

The dough should be a half inch thick. A little thicker is better than too thin. You should end up with a dozen biscuits.

Breakfast Frittata

What do you do when you can’t resist buying a lot of jalapeño peppers that happen to be on sale?  Find recipes that call for jalapeños, of course.  My wife just shook her head at the recipe for a breakfast frittata, but she asked for seconds and now suggests it from time to time when I ask what sounds good for breakfast.

A frittata is a kind of baked Italian omelet like a quiche without a crust.  There are dozens if not hundreds of recipes for frittatas.  There are varieties with chorizo, bacon, Italian sausage, salmon, leftovers of all kinds and even bananas.  Real men do eat quiche and real men and women love frittatas.

This one is easy and tasty and makes an attractive breakfast dish for visiting guests. (See the amateur photo.) If someone says that they don’t like hot peppers, give them only a tiny slice and some toast.  That will leave more for the rest of you…unless they ask for seconds.


2 large or three medium jalpeño peppers
1 medium potato
6 large eggs
1 T cold water
1/2 cup medium cheddar cheese
1/2 cup feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
6 to 8 grape or cherry tomatoes
1/4 to 1/3 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Wash and microwave the potato on high for about 4 minutes, wrap in aluminum foil and allow it to finish baking. While the potato is cooling, wash and remove the stems from the jalapeños.  Slice them in quarters, remove the membranes and seeds and dice the peppers finely (1/8 to 1/4 inch).  Shred the cheddar cheese and crumble the feta.  Wash and chop the spinach.  Peel the potato and dice.  Beat the eggs until lemon colored with the water and salt and stir into the vegetables and cheese.  Be careful not to add very much salt as the cheddar and feta cheeses are quite salty.

Grease an 8 or 9 inch pie plate and pour the frittata mixture into the plate.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle of the frittata comes out clean.  Remove from oven and garnish while hot with tomatoes cut in half and return the frittata to the oven for a minute to warm the tomatoes.  Allow the frittata to cool slightly and serve with toast or good bread.

NOTES:  You can substitute Monterey Jack cheese for the feta, which creates a different flavor combination that is still delicious.  You can substitute canned diced potatoes instead of baking your own.  Just drain them thoroughly.