Grandma’s Sweet Potato Biscuits

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Grandma’s Sweet Potato Biscuits

As remembered by Lila’s granddaughter Holly Alisha Carraway Warren

There is a photograph of Lila rolling dough with flour all over her hands on display in the kitchen where Holly taught me the famous yet unwritten recipe. I want to honor the oral tradition by keeping this post rather vague, photographic, and vignette-based. Qualitative rather than quantitative. There is no formula to these biscuits, so, as you make batch after batch there will be the good and the bad, the sweet and the bland, the crumbly and the smooth—the biscuits will be as varied as your lived days. The key element, in addition to the four key ingredients, is to have Faith in what you are doing. (And maybe listen to that song, like we did.)

The four key ingredients: self-rising flour, sugar, sweet potatoes, and shortening. First, boil the sweet potatoes until they are slimy and easy to peel. Image

Be sure to pick out each and every pimply tubercle, the whole follicle. Ew. But you wouldn’t want those nasties contaminating the textures of the biscuits. Put some flour, a couple soft sweet potatoes, however much sugar you think you deserve, and a glob of non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (photo shown for those who would like to estimate proportions) into a bowl.Image

Squeeze the warm mush and calm your stomach by looking at the ceiling while you squish.Image

Try not to think about how it looks and feels. Make no melodramatic analogies. You are massaging warm, wet sweet potatoes and lard. Everything is fine. Image

Cover the dough with flour so that the dough is no longer tacky to the touch.Image

Pinch off whatever size biscuit you think you deserve, and roll between your hands into balls, placing on a baking sheet. Image

Bake (and here is the only given concrete detail) at 350 for 30 minutes. Enjoy with butter! If you are Jude, you will call them Cookies. Lila, Holly tells me, kept a ledger of her biscuit-making, and would tally over two thousand biscuits every year. Her biscuits traveled the country, and perhaps now, the world! Surely they will last generations to come, as great-grandson Jude, at two, is already fond of and familiar with the routine. (Select photography courtesy of Tom Warren, who remembers taking Grandma’s biscuits with him to the Coast Guard Academy.)

2 thoughts on “Grandma’s Sweet Potato Biscuits

  1. What an incredible experience for you, getting to be an anthropologist of sorts as you document and try your hand at these biscuits! I adore the photos of you with some beloved people in your life, and love imagining you adding more love, joy and energy to their home 🙂

    1. Beloved indeed. I am so grateful to be taught and to have the permission to share! Thank you Warrens for a wonderful weekend in North Carolina, and Happy Birthday sweet Jude!

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