Louella’s White Lily Lighter-Than-Air Biscuits
Long before the guests have begun to stir and generally before the sun is up, the kitchen at Faded Glory Farm is dominated by a little lady who is literally “built like a tank” yet sweeter than fresh cream. Every morning, with the exception of Mondays and Tuesdays, my sound sleep is interrupted by the clanking and clattering of dishes, pots, and pans coming from the kitchen. Louella Hess has arrived! Five days a week at about 5 a.m. Louella drives her rusty 1978 Ford Grenada from her home in Dial to work for four hours doing the day’s baking at Faded Glory Farm. Louella was blessed with the ability to bake biscuits, pies, cakes and sundry other creations that would delight the most discriminating palate.
Louella’s family moved to the county from North Carolina back in the 1950s when her daddy started a radio/tv repair business on State Route 5 just this side of McCaysville. With her parents long gone and her husband passed (nearly twenty years ago), Louella, now 78, with no living children, works part-time here at Faded Glory as the Inn’s sole baker. Louella probably goes through a ton of White Lily Flour a year, and her “White Lily lighter-n’-air biscuits” have earned high praise throughout Union, Gilmer and Fannin counties. Another of her specialties, of which she is most proud, is her “Mile High Apple Pie,” and Isabel believes that many of the Inn’s guests return each year just to get another slice of Louella’s heavenly dessert.
At 78 and stronger than a small elephant, Louella is quite petite, somewhat nearsighted, and just maybe a bit clumsy; so, when she crimps and rims the dough off the edges of her pies or cuts out her biscuits or cookies, she creates a veritable “doughstorm” for any critter lucky enough to be lurking on the floor of her kitchen. Louella Hightower Hess is one of the best friends a dog could have. She doesn’t practice the five second rule. The five second rule states: “if a cook drops food on the floor, and the cook retrieves it within five seconds, that food is still considered edible and can be returned to the recipe.” If Louella drops something on the floor, she won’t ever pick it up and use it. It stays on the floor and becomes available to any critter that finds it. I am usually that critter, and I have subsequently prayed many times that she might someday be selected to trim the fat from one of Isabel’s famous Sunday roasts; but, so far, no such luck. Unless Isabel is ‘under the weather,’ Isabel likes to do that herself. Let there be no misunderstanding: Louella is the baker, and Isabel is primarily the cook at Faded Glory Farm.
By the time I reach the kitchen in the morning, it isn’t unusual to see a couple of cars from the Sheriff’s Department and a green U.S. Forest Service SUV parked near the back porch while Louella’s biscuits are baking. Sheriff Kenny Payne and at least one of his deputies, along with Matthew Tipton in his Forest Service truck, drop by to ‘check on things’ before they officially go on duty for the day. Sometimes Patrolman Pete Warren from the Georgia State Patrol arrives about the same time, and good natured bantering and bickering ensue as biscuits are passed around and fresh coffee is poured. On these occasions, everybody likes to tease Kenny Payne about the three bullet holes in the right rear quarter panel of his generic-looking county car. Kenny has yet to tell anybody how that happened, but he gets a sheepish look and changes the subject when it is mentioned.
But, mostly, it’s all about the biscuits. Isabel always keeps a pot of her special home-blended coffee sitting on the huge Vulcan stove that graces Faded Glory’s kitchen, and Louella always seems glad to pour them some. Matthew Tipton pets me a lot and pulls the wood ticks out of my fur. Although Matthew is only 51, Isabel seems uncharacteristically interested when he arrives dressed in his freshly starched U.S. Forest Service uniform; but that’s another story. With these men around, I always feel well-loved and pretty safe at the Faded Glory Farm.