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Home economics class

Rick Ryckeley's picture

When Mom heard we were baking fluffy biscuits from scratch in home ec, she gave me some pointers and told me to remember them. So, you see, the fire at Briarwood High School home of the Mighty Buccaneers was actually her fault. At least that’s what I told Principal Baker. He was not amused. I’ll explain.

I was called crazy. Never had it been done before. And yet there I sat, third row over and third seat back, right in the middle of Mrs. Steadman’s home economics class.
The guys from the football team didn’t bother with saying it behind my back. They said it to my face when I signed up for it. I was crazy. I’d be the only guy in the entire class. Yep, I was indeed crazy — crazy as a fox.

As a teenager, sometimes the things my parents told me actually got past my attitude and into my brain. Such was the case when it came to cooking. Mom pointed out that I’d be off to college soon, and she wasn’t going to be there to clean, sew on buttons, or to cook meals. Somehow I would have to learn how to do those things myself.

I figured I could still survive without ever learning how to clean and sew. But I liked to eat, so cooking was different. For cooking, there were three choices: convince Mom to come along to college, learn how to cook, or starve. Mom said no. She was going to stay home and take care of Dad. I didn’t want to starve. So Mrs. Steadman’s class seemed the logical solution.
Now that wasn’t the only logic that went into my decision-making. Candi and the entire varsity cheerleading squad were in the same class — with me right in the middle. Like I said, crazy as a fox.

During my time spent in home ec, one of the first things I learned how to cook turned out to be the most important. I’ve used the very same recipe now for 40 years – a recipe I used almost every day at the fire department. Mrs. Steadman made the tallest, fluffiest biscuits ever.
Why Mom gave me pointers on biscuit making, I really don’t know. Her biscuits were small, round, and hard as rocks. Still, they were delicious and could even be used after breakfast.

They were the perfect size and weight for slingshot ammunition. Even as mean as he was, Down the Street Bully Brad couldn’t fend off a barrage of Mom’s super hard biscuits.
When it came time to make biscuits in home ec, I remembered all the pointers Mom had given. The most important thing was to grease the pan so the biscuits wouldn’t stick. Even though Mrs. Steadman gave us strict instructions not to do so, I did.

Not only did I grease the pan once, I did it twice and coated it thickly. If a little grease was good, then a lot would be better. After all, I was trying to impress Candi. Biscuits stuck to a pan in a pre-heated oven of 500 degrees wouldn’t be impressive.
I learned a lot about cooking that day. First, girls are indeed impressed with a guy who can cook. Second, it takes a lot more time to clean up after cooking than it does actually to cook.
And finally, a little grease is good — a lot of grease is very bad.
It can cause an oven fire, get you sent to the office, and kicked out of home ec all in the very first week.
Even though very impressive, the biscuit fire didn’t impress Candi at all.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]


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