Last night, I finished the work in progress. Tanager’s Fledglings is a bouncing baby manuscript weighing in at 101589 words, the biggest rough draft I have ever completed. It took two years, from the nucleus that was a short story about a boy, a dog, and a spaceship, for this book to develop. Life was not kind to my writing process, and hopefully the next book won’t take that long. It shouldn’t – I’ll be working on it later today. Traditionally, I let the finished rough draft sit and marinate for a few days, before sending it off to beta readers, and then once those suggestions are incorporated, it will be off to an editor(s) before a final pre-publication polish. Also traditional is the post-book break, but I’m not taking that this time. I can’t afford to let the momentum slip. I’m not going to get 7800 words today (plus the MCG blog word count) like I did yesterday. But I will get in a minimum of 1K words. To keep my fingers loose.
This isn’t, however, what I was talking about when I said tradition was hard. I think we all have little family traditions. Some grew up like mushrooms, unexpectedly delightful from family roots. Others take deliberation, and effort, to develop and set into the weave of everyday life. Like romantic love, family bonds take work. Most of that work is on the shoulders of parents, who decide that they need things, like quality time, to keep the family all going in the same direction. Our family tradition (one of them) is Sunday breakfast.
Saturdays, Mama sleeps in. Sometimes it’s not actually sleeping, but it is quiet time with the bedroom door closed, and kids get their own breakfast, now that they are old enough to do that. But Sundays… I get up early, usually before the kids, and start cooking. Sunday breakfasts are the meal where I go a little crazy with food, and have some fun baking. This takes some effort on my part – and there are a lot of mornings I’d rather sleep in. It also takes effort to get the whole family to the table. it’s the little things, like getting them all awake on a weekend. Teenagers!
In my opinion, though, it’s well worth making the effort. We usually manage all around the table family dinner several days a week. Not every day – Tuesday, for instance, is always catch-as-catch-can dinner. But Sunday morning breakfast is special, because we aren’t all tired. The conversation gets silly, and we can linger over it with no demands of homework and bed looming. Also, I enjoy the cooking for it in a different way than for dinners. It’s usually about the sweets. But not always. This morning the Little Man asked for savory.
So here’s a question – growing up, at a meal, we’d have a starch. Rice, bread, potatoes, noodles… but the First Reader thinks nothing of double-starching. Like this morning’s special breakfast, which was his fried potatoes, he told me that it’s customary to have biscuits with. I had no objection to that – I like biscuits – but it seemed like biscuits, potatoes, bacon, and eggs was a starch-heavy meal. So I made ‘Eeekle’ biscuits. Little… no, I have no idea where I get ickle from little.
2 C all-purpose flour
4 tbsp lard
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c sour cream
2-3 tbsp half and half
Preheat oven to 500 deg F
In a large bowl, cut the lard into the flour until it is smaller than pea-sized and well incorporated. I use a pastry blender to do this, but you can do it with fingers.
Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Stir in the sour cream, then drizzle the cream in a tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a stiff ball. You may want to knead with your hands for the last little bit.
Turn the dough ball out onto a floured surface and pat or roll to 1/2 inch thick.
Cut the biscuits into 2" rounds, and put on a cookie sheet. You can put them fairly close together - they will rise up, not out.
Place in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown on top and edges.
Serve with honey, jam, and butter. Or gravy. But not both.
Tradition is hard. Biscuits ought to be light and fluffy. There are stages in life we all grow through – childhood, the teen years, adulting. Some of us add an extra layer and do parenting, then grandparenting. I haven’t managed that last, and I’m in no hurry for it. Every stage means learning new things. Not every thing we try out works. Don’t even ask me about cloth diapers. Sometimes they are not great the first time, and the second time you try it, ow wow that works so good! (slings. Seriously, once I figured them out, with the Otaku Princess, I wondered how I had managed with the Eldest.) Some days, you don’t feel like getting out of bed, much less cooking a big meal, but if you skip it this once, and then next week something else comes up, then ‘poof!’ the tradition is gone.
Parenting is hard. Totally worth it, mind you, but never easy. it changes, too. The fussy baby keeping you awake for weeks on end morphs into the toddler who asks ‘why’ so many times you feel your mind melting becomes the tween who won’t quit with the video games and go outside for two minutes and if you push he melts down into the teenager who wants to learn how to drive, and date, and… if I survive this, I’ll be amazed. If they survive this, I’ll be astonished. The traditions help. Sitting and laughing around the table, telling really horrible jokes… that makes the rest of it survivable for another day, a week, then before you know it, they are on the brink of the nest.
And in between times, there’s always biscuits.