Pass the Bee Spit, Please
My mother was the kind of housewife who kept an immaculately clean
home, and greeted my Dad at the end of every day with supper ready
on the table. When Erma Bombeck wrote about her neighbor the Super
Mom who put her to shame, she must have had my mother in mind.
My mother, unfortunately, also suffered from migraine headaches. On
those occasional bad days, she would go into her bedroom, close the
curtains and the door and lay on the bed with a cool cloth over her
We knew to be quiet on those days when we came home from school and
found her bedroom door shut and the house silent.
Dad would know as soon as he walked through the front door that Mom
wasn't feeling well. There would be no tantalizing odors from the
kitchen. The kids would be sitting and waiting for supper.
"How about some biscuits and gravy?" Dad would ask. It was the only
thing my father knew how to cook. Hungry, we would nod our heads in
We have never been able to discover the secret to Dad's biscuits.
else makes them from scratch quite the same way. He would mix up the
dough, roll it out and use an overturned drinking glass to cut out
round shapes. Then he'd put them on a cookie sheet and slide them
the over while he made the gravy.
While Dad's gravy was fairly passable as cuisine went, the biscuits
a different story. Hard and flat, they came out of the oven in the
shape they went in. They never rose up puffy and light like my
biscuits. And they were yellow, not just golden brown on top. When
broke one open, it was yellow all the way through.
It may have been that Dad confused baking powder with baking soda, or
perhaps he ignored both while he was mixing the dough by hand. One
day, my brother watched every move my Dad made during the process
and still couldn't determine where he went wrong.
"I dunno, Dad. Maybe if you washed your hands first...," my brother
mumbled. "Where did you learn to make biscuits like this, anyway?"
"From your Grandpa, son. It's an old family recipe that he passed
me." Well, Dad must not have paid enough attention to Grandpa's
instructions, because I can tell you that Grandpa's biscuits never
There's something about a good bowl of gravy, though, that covers a
multitude of mistakes. When we poured the gravy over the biscuits,
tasted wonderful. Still, there would be a stack of disc-shaped
"How about a little bee spit with your biscuit?" my Dad would
he pulled a jar of honey from the cupboard. My mother was a stickler
about nutrition. She didn't think sugar or sweets were good for
children. We seldom were treated to cakes, pies or puddings, but Dad
always had a jar of clover honey he kept put up out of reach. If
was tasty on the biscuits, the golden honey was like heaven.
"Why do you call it bee spit?" I once asked. Dad shrugged his
and said he didn't know, that's just what his father always called
It was another of those family traditions that was passed along.
As soon as supper was over, we'd clean the kitchen as well as we
Then we'd sit around the living room and watch a favorite television
show, our stomachs full and our heads light with a sugar buzz. The
clue that we had overindulged in sweets was the sticky spots my
would find in the kitchen the next day.
The other morning at a meal of biscuits and gravy, I heard one of my
teenagers say, "Hey, Sis, pass the bee spit, will you?"
I had to laugh. Dad would have been proud. We have, indeed, passed
bee spit along to another generation. But the secret to those
well, that's another matter entirely!
[ by Pamela Jenkins -- from 'The Inspired Buffalo' (firstname.lastname@example.org) ]
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