When I was a young child, each summer my parents loaded up the car with our pets, my baby sister and myself, and we all trekked to Tennessee to visit my southern grandparents.
Living deep in the hills, each visit to Pappy and Mammy Jackson's house was like stepping back in time.
There was no electricity, so television was out of the question. It was a farm, so there were pigs, chickens and goats to chase and hay lofts to jump out of. When you have 30 cousins to play with, tag is a fun game.
I learned to enjoy the down-home music featuring banjos, guitars, spoons, jugs and "jaw harps" played nightly in the living room and on the front porch by family members who came to visit with us. It was incredible fun.
Without indoor plumbing, trips to the creek located about 50 feet from the house for a cold drink made the water taste all the better. Trips to a waterfall that the creek turned into a about a block and a half south of the house with a bar of soap in your hand made bath time much more fun!
But, I do admit that going to the outhouse at night was a little scary for me. I hated opening the door and finding a huge raccoon or some other nocturnal animal inside starring back at me in the middle of the night!
The nearest place to buy "necessities" was a brisk two-mile walk down the hill to a cram-packed two-room barn with a misspelled "Ginral Stor" sign hanging on the porch.
Once inside, it looked like the building would explode from all the stuff packed haphazardly inside.
I loved walking with Pappy each morning or late evening to get a block of ice for the wood icebox. Because I was always willing to go, he'd buy me a treat. On one of those trips he bought me a big floppy hat with flowers on it, while on another he bought me a bag of rock candy.
Pappy would also buy himself a treat, a cold bottle of beer that he'd always finish before we got back to the house.
"Our little secret," he would tell me with a finger over his lips.
Mammy had her little secrets too.
A rustic lady who chewed 5 Brothers tobacco, Mammy dried the "chaw" in a cigar box and then rolled it into cigarettes when no one was looking. I thought Mammy was scary looking when sitting on the front porch with a "chaw" in her mouth, but in the kitchen she was different.
Warmth filled Mammy and the smile she had while cooking at the wood-burning kitchen stove was incredible.
Even in the middle of summer, I loved crawling out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to sit on the stool and watch her wrestle with the behemoth black stove.
Mammy sang or whistled gospel songs while she did the daily baking, with "Swing Low" being her favorite.
When she made "short'nin bread," I knew that later that day we would be walking through the woods looking for wild berries. It was amazing to watch her pour ingredients in her palm without measuring anything and have it taste incredible!
I promise you won't have to do that with this recipe.
To make Mammy's Short'nin Bread you will need to preheat the oven to 450 degrees while making the batter. It's got to be hot when the bread goes in so it will be crunchy.
In a large bowl cream 1/2-cup of whipped butter, four-tablespoons of granulated sugar and two-tablespoons of brown sugar, 3/4-teaspoon of salt and one tablespoon of baking powder until very light and fluffy. Whisk together one egg and a 1/2-cup of buttermilk. Alternate stirring in two cups of all-purpose flour and the milk mixture into the butter cream mixture until fully blended.
The batter will be chunky, if not, add a tablespoon (or two) of flour.
Drop large spoonfuls of the batter onto a lightly greased baking sheet, making six-eight mounds.
Mammy used a large buttered spoon to swirl an indention into each mound before baking, because that is where the berries go.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. When done, remove from the pan and let sit on a towel while covered with another towel until ready to eat.
Use a wooden spoon to mash two pints of cleaned berries in a bowl with 4-6 tablespoons of sugar, one tablespoon of brown sugar, a squeeze from a lemon and two tablespoons of hot water or fresh cream in a bowl (adding more sugar to taste if needed). Add a handful (or two) of more berries and a sprinkle of salt to the sauce.
At this point, Mammy would cover the bowl and let it sit in a cool spot throughout the afternoon until time for dessert. If it were a "special occasion," Pappy would add "a touch of shine" to the mix.
Served in a bowl or a coffee cup, Mammy would spoon some of the berry sauce on the biscuit and let each person pour however much cream they wanted on top.
It was a heavenly summer treat.