sara lewis holmes and her biscuit boys

#8 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2010.

 Note Hershey syrup can biscuit cutter. ☺

I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing that warms my heart more than the sight of boys in the kitchen. 

Would you just look at these two adorable bakers? Don’t you just want to reach into the picture, give them a big hug and pinch their cheeks? I’ve been in cute overload mode ever since Sara sent me photos of her husband, Mike, and now-college-age son, Wade, making biscuits together.

The recipe comes from a cookbook Sara and Mike received as a wedding gift, called Dining with Pioneers. It seems especially fitting for this “pioneer” family, who has lived in and traveled to many states and countries. Perhaps this family biscuit tradition helped them feel at home no matter where they went. Just recently, Sara mentioned Mike was making biscuits on a Sunday morning. Sigh. Don’t you wish he’d come over to your house?

Cutest rolling pin boy ever.


The book, a wedding gift
from 1984, wishes us “many hours
of pleasure” and admonishes us

“eggs should be at least three days
old before using in cakes.” It opens,
natural as pie, to Ann’s Angel Biscuits;

the paper gritty with dried flour dust;
the ochre glue of the binding visible
where the spine has cracked flat

to this page. The oven is set to 450.
Yeast — granular, fine as brown seeds — floats
on 2 Tablespoons of warmed tap water;

I think of woman and man and what begins
over and over from seed and water
while rough sugar blends into the slippery

whiteness of self-rising flour; molded
together with Crisco — gussied up lard,
silvery salve stored in lidded tubs;

then buttermilk, if we have some, exotic
in a green carton, beaming with wholesome rectitude.
Roll out immediately; orders the recipe, although

it should say: gently, with a dusting of flour
to cushion you. Nothing about how to shape it,
but we know: with the smooth halo of a juice glass,

or (if you’ve saved it all these years) by the open
cylinder mouth of a burnished Hershey syrup can
rescued, measured sweetness, from a brownie box.

Bake until risen, freckled, and puffed
by sugar and grease and heat to row upon row
of circular, layered towers; a city of biscuits on a tray.

The cookbook is called Dining with Pioneers,
and perhaps we do, we makers of biscuits,
we seekers of pleasure, we homesteading angels.

© 2010 Sara Lewis Holmes. All rights reserved.

♥ A perfect biscuit = a perfect poem. ♥

I love so many of Sara’s poetic ingredients: the exotic buttermilk with “wholesome rectitude,” the “gussied up lard,” the idea of a dusting of flour to cushion the dough, the “city of biscuits on a tray.” Swoon! I MUST have one (or two or three) of these perfectly risen, freckled beauties. Now.


Sara: My husband has made biscuits ever since we were married in 1984. He’s made them with both kids, and for guests. When the kids were little, he would let them form the dough scraps into snails and other animal shapes. He’s made them at the beach and in the mountains, and in at least three countries. He’s even made them on a houseboat on Lake Mead using a grill as an oven. We eat them with jam and/or honey; occasionally with slivers of country ham.

Thank you so much, Sara, Wade, and Mike!


Sara Lewis Holmes is the critically acclaimed author of the middle grade novels, Letters from Rapunzel (Winner of the Ursula Nordstrom Fiction Contest) and Operation Yes (Booklist Top 10 Arts Books for Youth). She occasionally posts some of her beautifully crafted poems at Read*Write*Believe, and is one of the seven “Poetry Princesses” who’ve graced Poetry Fridays with group projects (A Crown Sonnet, Villanelles, Rondeau Redoublé). We both love Shakespeare, cupcakes, and popcorn, but when it comes to beets, she’s strictly on her own.

*Unless otherwise noted, all photos © 2010 Sara Lewis Holmes. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

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