Having grown up in New York, I couldn’t imagine a childhood free of snow, so each year, around Christmas time, we piled our kids into the car and drove them to the mountains surrounding Los Angeles. There were day trips to Angeles Crest, the trunk of the Volvo Wagon holding plastic saucers and black garbage bags, perfect for sliding down the snow-covered hills. Some winter vacations were spent visiting Bubbie and Zaidie in Toronto, there we would walk our children to Cedarvale Park so they could sled in the very same spot where Norm and his sisters had gone sledding as children. There were occasional December trips to NYC, making sure that we took the time to show the kids the Christmas windows, an annual ritual from my childhood, made all the better if the day involved gently falling snowflakes while strolling down 5th Avenue.
When they were slightly older, we discovered Mammoth, an easy five-hour drive from home. We put pillows and blankets in the car and on the way we listened to Burl Ives, and sang civil war songs from our collection of worn and tattered song books. Arriving in the town of Bishop always meant a stop at Schat’s Bakkery to buy delicious Sheepherder’s bread for sandwiches, and cinnamon bread for breakfast toast.
There were ski lessons and snow boarding lessons. While Norm and the kids were on the slopes, I spent the days seated by the large glass window in the ski lodge, with my magazines and books piled on my table, and a mug of cocoa as my only companion. I passed the time quietly, my only other activity was my frequent glances through the window, hoping that I would see them coming down the mountain, still in one piece. We would always have lunch together, and then they would head back out. One year, my friend Fredda and I made Cholent for lunch, and actually transported it to the ski area, ladling out hot steaming portions to our grateful skiers, who may have been embarrassed by their mothers, but still ate with relish.
There were specific restaurants we went to each year. One was Blondie’s Kitchen and Waffle Shop, a small breakfast place with checkered tablecloths, and a down home atmosphere, the kind of place I still love. The breakfast was always good, and the portions generous. Eggs came with a side of biscuits, my first introduction to what blossomed into my ongoing love affair with those small and simple quick breads.
We haven’t been to Mammoth in years. One of my children still actively skis, and all the kids live on the East Coast where they have plenty of snow. Norm and I are still in warm and sunny Los Angeles, where today, I am remembering it all and making biscuits for breakfast. Happy Holidays!!!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 Tb cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry knife or two forks, cut butter into mixture until it begins to look like cornmeal. Make a well in flour mixture and add milk. Place mixture on lightly floured board and knead for a minute or two, just enough for dough to hold together. Gently pat dough down and out, using your finger tips, till you have a 1/2 ” thick rectangle. Cut rounds out with a medium-sized glass by pressing down, not twisting. Bake biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 10-12 minutes. Makes about 10 biscuits.