The first time it happened was a chilly day in March when I was in 4th grade; I was bouncing off the walls at school all day. It happened again in 6th grade on a warm day in September; my mother had to pick me up from school. Then in high school, my friend’s mother had to take me to the hospital after a long weekend of marching band activities. The last time it happened was a long and difficult school day during my first year of teaching.
These days stand out in my memory not because something bad happened to me, but because they were miraculously wonderful. They are the days my sisters gave birth to my nephews and nieces, the most precious treasures of my life before I became a mother.
But my sisters have five children between the two of them, and I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t remember a single blessed detail about the day sweet Whitney was born. If you were to ask 100 people who have known her throughout her life to describe my niece, I’ll bet at least 80 would use the word “quiet” somewhere in their description. The other 20 might use “shy.”
When Whitney was a baby, my father resorted to using ice cream to trick his timid granddaughter into coming near him. When she was old enough to walk around, she scared the living daylights out of my mother regularly by wandering off to play in some hidden corner and by keeping completely silent while we frantically searched the entire house for her. At a later age, she’d do this hiding bit on purpose. She was also adept at scaring you by creeping up on you undetected. Because she was the master of hush, I nicknamed her “Whisper.”
My Whisper is now a woman, twenty-seven years old today. In my opinion, she is an amazing woman. And, yes, she is still quiet and reserved. She is peace-loving and tender-hearted, kind to animals, the elderly, and children.
My niece is smart, sincere, and hard-working, holding down two jobs to pay the bills and working an internship to help her earn a spot in the graduate program of her choice. Although she is quiet, she has learned to be assertive and to speak up for herself and for others. I’m proud of her.
I know she’d rather blend into the background and stay unnoticed much of the time, but I think she stands out. In our “Look at me! Look at me!” culture, so few are willing to work hard, help others, and also keep quiet about it. While I might be the negligent aunt by not remembering anything about the day she was born, I can’t help but pay attention to the fact that she is beautiful both on the outside and on the inside. The woman my Whisper has become wears a quiet dignity that will not go unnoticed in today’s too-loud world.
I love talking to my Whisper. We share several interests, not the least of which is food. We love cooking for others, and we can both get excited about something as simple as caramelized onions. I asked Whitney if she’d share with me one of her favorite things to make, and this is what she sent me. Although she lives too far away to come over to share them with me, maybe I’ll make these to celebrate her birthday anyway. Just remember that these are best eaten while warm; they don’t keep well.
|Hot from the oven. . . mmmmm. . .|
Cinnamon Roll Buttermilk Biscuits
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons butter, cubed and chilled
3/4 cup buttermilk
Cream Cheese Icing:
3 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 450℉. Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and set aside.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
Make a well in the center of the butter and flour mixture and add the buttermilk. Gently mix until buttermilk is combined into the butter and flour. Do not over mix. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using your hands, pat the dough into a rectangle 1-inch thick. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon sugar. Fold the dough in half and again, pat into a rectangle 1-inch thick. Repeat 2 more times.
Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut the dough into biscuits. Place biscuits on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool slightly.
While biscuits are baking, whisk together cream cheese, vanilla, and milk. Add in powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.
Spoon or pipe icing onto biscuits. Sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar.
*This column ran in The Hancock News on March 29, 2017.
**I tried this recipe after it was published, and the biscuits were delicious at breakfast when I made them and not horrible at lunch either. I bet that if you can't eat all of them at once, you could probably freeze them before baking them, thaw them out, and bake them when you want them (because you can with regular biscuits). Also, I didn't have time to pipe the frosting, but I think it would work better and look prettier.