by Lorna Kerin Beall
In Model T Biscuits Mama, Step-daddy and six-year-old Lorna head cross country in their Model T picking apples along the way to stretch their meager nest egg until they can find a little farm of their own. Mama shows her sisu, the Finnish word for guts, determination, and ingenuity, when she’s faced with no oven in the apple-picking camp. She surprises Lorna and Step-Daddy by baking biscuits on the engine (actually the flat head) of the Model T.
Earlier in the story, Step-Daddy recalls Mumu's baking. He rubs his belly and says, "That house always smelled of fresh bread."Lorna answers, "Know how we made it? Know how Mumu and I got the bread so skinny? And made the outside so crispy? We rolled the dough out flat. Then poke, poke, poke, we poked holes in it. Then we baked it smack-dab! - on the bottom of the oven. Mumu even let me..."
While I was writing Model T Biscuits, I tried to weave some Finnish customs and language into the story. One way I did this was by including traditional Finnish food. My mama, as well as my Finnish Mumu who raised me up until this point, loved to bake heino leipä: Finnish flat bread, pulla: Finnish cinnamon rolls, and other braided kinds of pulla. My Mumu’s little home in Buffalo, South Dakota, always smelled of fresh-baked pastry. And the kahvi pot was always on for neighbors or passers-by who were welcome to pop in. Tugging her little sled, my small cousin, Willo Boe and our Mumu delivered homemade bread to shut-ins and other friends. In my story, the family heads out West and Lorna frets that Mumu won’t be able to deliver bread without her, since the wheel on her wobbly little wagon is broken.
The smell of fresh baked goods brings back cherished memories of Mumu and Mama baking in our big black cast iron stove. All kinds of love was kneaded and braided into these Finnish delights.
MODEL T DROP BISCUITS
(Kids, you’ll need your Mama’s or Mumu’s help.)
Start up the Model T engine. Let it warm up.
If you don’t have a Model T, heat oven to 450 degrees.
Model T directions: Grease tin cake pan
Oven: Use a tin cake pan. Do not grease. Do not cover.
2 cups flour
l/2 tsp. salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
l/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons sugar
l/2 cup of lard or shortening
¾ cup buttermilk (Used canned milk in the Picking Camp.)
Mix dry ingredients. Add the lard or shortening.
Then add milk. Stir gently till soft dough forms.
Model T: Drop by spoonfuls on a greased cake pan.
Oven: Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cake pan..
Model T: Check frequently.
Oven: Bake for seven to nine minutes.
*Or buy canned biscuit dough from the supermarket.
Make and bake according to directions on the package.
Serve the biscuits hot with butter and honey.
IF POSSIBLE LOOK AT SUNRISE WHILE EATING.