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Down on the Bayou

By Marilyn Hunter

Deep in the heart of the Bayou, lived my third cousin, Cleo. A sweet, gracious southern woman who could talk a mile a minute with a steady drawl. Cleo lived in Lafayette, Louisiana, in a community where food and cooking come from the heart.

The women spent most of their time talking about food, exchanging recipes and collecting cookbooks. The food, just like the lifestyle, was everything you would expect from a small, southern town in Louisiana…a unique blend of cultures and traditions.

I always looked forward to our family trips down the River Road, from Lafayette along the Mississippi River to New Orleans. It’s a culture rich in culinary history.  One of the highlights, for me, was always biscuits made from scratch at Cleo’s house.

Thanks to Cleo, biscuits have become a permanent fixture on our table. I make them at least once a week for breakfast or dinner. We each have our own way of eating them. Whether with gravy, jam, honey or just lots of butter, they’re always delicious.

Cleo’s Southern Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup butter (1 stick), cut into small pieces
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 F. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Slowly stir in the milk until dough comes together. Turn out dough onto lightly floured board and knead about six times. Gently roll dough into ½-inch thickness. Cut out 10 to 12 three-inch biscuits. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately.

I’ve returned to Cleo’s kitchen in my mind many times as I roll out biscuits in my own. You would be proud of our boys, Cleo. They use your rolling pin with precision and grace. Thank you for all those times you welcomed me with open arms, for all those heavenly breakfasts and thanks for always saving me a place at the table.

Your sweet memory lives on in our house through your recipes.

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Reader Comments (8)

Ummmm the biscuits looks really delicious. Your adorable chef really done a great job :)

December 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTes

I am so blessed to have one of Cleo's Church cookbooks. I love just reading through the pages and thinking about all the amazing women that put such wonderful recipes together. I have my Aunt Nancy's Rolling pin - maybe we will give it a "spin" this weekend.

December 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusie Mayes

Wonderful story, Marilyn, and pictures of boys are always loved. Your blog is something I look forward every week. Christmas Love

December 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJean Darland

Thanks Jean! Christmas love to all of you.

December 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn Hunter

I love that you have one of Cleo's cookbooks. They're priceless. I'll never forget Aunt Nancy's chicken and biscuits.

December 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn Hunter

Thanks so much Tes! Yes, little chefs love to help.

December 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn Hunter

I'm so glad you have those wonderful memories of Dear Cleo and the awsome biscuits along with the side trips on the River Road and the old plantation homes. She served everything on her Blue Danube dishes that made it seem more special. How could we forget the cotton fields?

December 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatsy McAdam

Marilyn, Loved the pictures of our wonderful boys -- Nicky with the rolling pin (I'll bet if we could see his whole face there would be his tongue just outside of his upper lip helping his concentration! And, Benjamin's wonderful smile. The biscuits sound delicious and I loved hearing about cousin Cleo.

December 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary Hunter

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