Yesterday, I went to Loganberry Farm to their Saturday Farm Market. If you have never been there you really should go, they are a heritage farm growing all things organically. They were having a Sorghum Soppin’ and when we arrived Sharon Mauney asked us to participate. I had never heard that term so I wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted us to do. However, when she got out the butter and poured the syrup over it, I knew immediately. Just the sight of that sticky sweet liquid pouring out, glistening golden brown as it slowly covered the freshly made butter was enough to have me salivating. My mind instantly went back to my childhood, and family dinners sitting around the dining table. Didn’t matter whose house, or which table, if there were biscuits…and there were always biscuits…there was sorghum. There was also butter, honey, and assorted homemade jellies… my favorite one was homemade apple jelly from the horse apples in the pasture. It seemed to me that there were too many choices of good things to put on biscuits. To try them all would have required me to make the meal entirely out of biscuits, and believe me, it was always tempting to do so.
My grandmother was the best biscuit maker around. Her biscuits were always browned perfectly on the outside and had a soft, moist inside. She taught us how to make the light and fluffy tastes of heaven when we were just little tikes. My sister Melinda made her first batch all by herself at the age of 3. We never measured the ingredients, just a bit of flour, a hand scoop of Crisco, and some milk. I remember feeling so grown up when standing on the stool in Memommie’s turquoise kitchen with my hands in the biscuit bowl. I was one of them…the women in our family who cooked. By rolling out the dough, despite the flour that ended up in our hair and on our faces, we became a part of the legacy that is Southern cooking. There was always just enough dough left over for a hand-patted heart shape or some other design made from our imaginations. We used to fight over who would make the “special biscuit” out of the scraps. It was such a part of my childhood that when my grandmother’s things were divided up, I saved one or two of her old biscuit cutters for my own kitchen.
When those biscuits came out of the oven there was no need to call everyone to the table. We were all waiting in line. Once we were seated and the blessing was said, we commenced slicing them open and preparing the fluff while the steam was still rising. Butter was passed and jelly too. They were so hot the butter melted and created a little puddle which oozed out and dripped down the sides when you put the top back on. The first thing on my plate to be eaten, no matter if it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner, was the biscuit…because you had to eat the first one before you could get another, and sometimes there weren’t enough for everyone to have another. Even though there were always more waiting to bake, there was something about having to wait that was much too hard for my little girl self. Plus, in those days, bread was much better than all those “yucky” vegetables.
I remember at the end of the meal, as if for dessert, my grandfather getting out the sorghum and spooning it onto the plate, on top of a lump of soft yellow butter. There was a technique to it. Butter first. Then syrup. Then use the back of a fork to mash it all up. Once mashed up, stir until well blended on your plate. Then spoon the mixture onto your biscuit. Close it up. Give it a minute to soak in. Get your napkin ready while you wait. Eat. Savor. Then lick your fingers and wipe your chin. Repeat until all the syrup is gone.
However, there was a problem with this technique. The syrup/butter mixture ran out before the biscuit did. So there must be more syrup made…in order to finish up the biscuit. Then, when the next biscuit was gone, there was still a bit of syrup left…meaning you must eat another biscuit to finish off the syrup. You can see where I am going with this. It never once came out even…and this is how the name “wish-I-hadn’t” (pronounced haden) came to be. In our family, the syrup/butter mixture is still called “Wish-I-hadn’t” because by the time you got it to come out even you wished you hadn’t started at all. You felt as if you would explode.
All of this came flooding back to me yesterday as I was dipping a piece of a biscuit into the sorghum butter mixture at Loganberry Farm. As I savored the taste of my past, I had to tell Sharon the story, of “wish-I-hadn’t” to add to the sorghum soppin’ tradition. For those interested, they will be sorghum soppin’ again next Saturday from 10-2 at the last Farm Market of the season. They are located on Adair Mill Road and will happily share their growing methods and old time stories with you, as you dip your biscuit. Check their website for more information. http://www.loganberryheritagefarm.com/home