Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

September 13, 2009


A good lesson from burnt biscuits, butter and jelly


      This may shock some of my friends but I read only about five per cent of the emails they send me. I do read personal messages. But when the message is “You will love this,” I usually hit “delete” without looking at the attachment. I simply do not have time to read 50 inspiring stories a day.

          The other day I made an exception. My sister Margie sent me a story about burnt biscuits. As my finger moved toward the delete button, I noticed a comment Margie made quoting her late husband John. She said, “No matter what I cooked John always thanked me and told it was good even when it was not.” That got my attention so I read Margie’s inspiring story about burnt biscuits.

          It is the testimony of a woman who remembered her mother often cooked breakfast food for the family’s supper. She recalled one night especially. After a long day at work her mother placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of her dad.

          Wondering how her dad would react, she watched him reach for his biscuit, smile at her mom, and ask his daughter how her day at school had been. Then he smeared butter and jelly all over that biscuit and ate every bite. When her mother apologized for burning the biscuits, her dad said, “Baby, I love burned biscuits.”

The woman said she learned a great lesson that night. When she went to kiss her daddy good night, she asked him if he really like burned biscuits. “Then,” she said, “Dad wrapped me in his arms and said, ‘Your Momma put in a hard day at work today she is real tired. And besides, a little burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!’”

This story reminded me of my own cooking skills. During my wife’s illness this summer I became, for a brief time, the cook and bottle washer at our home. With the help of my new George Foreman Grill Pan, I prepared several meals that Dean claimed she enjoyed. My guess is that some of my cooking probably looked like burned biscuits to her. But like Margie’s husband John, she thanked me and told me the food was good.

One day I got adventurous and decided to prepare a Spam casserole. In the days when we had little money and lots of children, Spam was often our main dish. Dean could throw some potatoes, carrots, and onions in with a can of Spam and make it look like a feast.

That is what I imagined I would prepare but in my hands it became a disaster. Remembering that good cooks use Olive Oil, I poured some into my dish. Soon my potatoes, carrots, onions, and the diced Spam, were swimming in oil. For good measure, since I love apples, I added one diced apple. It was ready for the oven.

Then I noticed the clock. I had promised supper by six and it was already half past five. A simple solution came to mind: turn the oven up to 450. Cook that baby in a hurry. Thirty minutes later I stared in disbelief at one bad looking casserole. About that moment my wife walks in, looks at it, and asks, “Honey, did you put some water in it? Potatoes should be cooked in water.”

Water? No, I had not even thought about water. Hoping it might taste good even though it looked awful, I tasted it. The potatoes were not done. The Spam tasted like rubber. It was horrible. That night we had Boston Butt sandwiches for supper.

Knowing that I felt like a whipped dog because of my casserole failure, Dean came to my rescue. She said, “Honey, I will work on it. I think I can fix it so we can eat it.” She tried. She added water and cooked the potatoes some more. She smothered the casserole with cheese. Later she asked me to taste it, thinking she might have salvaged it. No such luck. It was still yucky. Our neighbor’s dog would not eat it. The birds would not touch it. Squirrels would not come near it.

Like the woman in Margie’s inspiring story, I learned a valuable lesson from my casserole disaster. You can save a burnt biscuit with butter and jelly and lie about how good it was. But when you are face to face with one of Walter’s casseroles, you had better just say, “Baby, there is no way I can eat that mess; let’s see if there is any Boston Butt left.”

The food at our house tastes much better lately. My wife has taken over the cooking. Thank God. + + +