Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mrs. Corbin's Biscuits Supreme

Philip the Historian has done it again!

Yesterday, he shared a newspaper article featuring Mrs. Ruby Corbin with me. In case you may have forgotten, Mrs. Corbin ran the Traveler's Inn & Coffee Shop from 1946 to 1954.

Needless to say, I was very excited when he emailed the article to me! Here's the article, but don't try to read the small print because I transcribed it for you below.

 Favorite Recipes of Valley Residents
              -A feature by Cornelia James Dorgan
 Although modern methods of food preparation and freezing have made Milady's task an easy matter, favorite recipes have been for generations a treasured asset of the distaff side. Whether the recipe is old or new, plain or fancy, whether used once a week or for special occasions only, it is very likely that recipes will continue to be handed down from mother to daughter, from friends to friend. Nowhere has this custom been more prized than here in the Shenandoah Valley. 
"I like to study", says Ruby White (Mrs. L.S.) Corbin of [our town] and her interests cover a wide range of subjects, only one of which is cooking. The biscuit recipe she gives as her favorite is one she has given to many friends upon request and was a great favorite with the late Mr. Corbin and in her own family.
One of only two  women at [our town] Manufacturing company skilled in her particular job of industrial mending, Mrs. Corbin says "believe it or not, one of my hobbies is sewing!"
She also is interested in writing and horticulture. She is a member of the Luconacoa Garden Club of which she currently is treasurer, a member of the Reformation Lutheran church and the Lutheran Church women, and "likes to baby sit with my little niece and nephew, Teresa and Bruce Foltz, who live nearby."
Until they returned to [our town] in 1945, the Corbins lived for more than nine years in Washington, D.C., and during the war she was a Civil Service clerk in the office for Emergency Management, Printing and Duplicating, and also worked at Government Services, Inc., for the Navy department at the Bureau of Ships and Docks.
One of the memories Mrs. Corbin treasures the most is standing right at the foot of the White House Portico steps when President and Mrs. Roosevelt made their first public appearance after he was re-elected for the history-making third term. A newspaper picture taken of the event includes her in it and is one of her treasured keepsakes.
Before the war, Mrs. Corbin worked as cashier for Warner Brothers theaters. After she and Mr. Corbin returned to [our town], she put her inherited skill at cooking to work and operate a Coffee Shop and Tourist Home for a number of years.
She was for a while desk clerk at [our town] lodge, and meeting the public in the various positions she has had, is high on her list of interesting things she has thoroughly enjoyed.
About her biscuit recipe, she says, "These are appropriate for afternoon tea or as a base for creamed foods. Makes about sixteen medium-sized biscuits. Delicious with ham or pot-pie!"
What an interesting life she led! I find myself fascinated. I want to learn more!

Here's her recipe:

I held in my hand (on the screen of my laptop, that is) a recipe used by Mrs. Corbin. Victory! Naturally, there was only one thing for me to do... Make some biscuits!

I mean, how could I possibly pass up supreme biscuits?

So I sifted a little flour and cut in a little shortening...

Did a little light mixing...

...and came away with some tasty biscuit dough.

I like to eat dough. It grosses my mom out.

It was pretty tasty baked, too. A little crumbly. I'd give them a solid B+. I mean, have you tried smitten kitchen's cream biscuits? Melt in your mouth amazing! And don't get me started on my mom's biscuits. She's a pastry chef. I have spoiled taste buds.

But the fact that these could have been served alongside ham or pot pie in the Coffee Shop 60 years ago? It makes my heart go pitter pat.

I have to say that the Ruby Corbin biscuit experiment was a success. And it made me extremely happy. It's the little things. Plus, Stephen & I got to have biscuits'n gravy for breakfast. Mmm mmm.

If you pay attention to the details in that newspaper photo, you can see that Ruby is standing in a kitchen. Philip the Historian wanted to know if the kitchen in the photo was the same as the original kitchen in my house. After closer inspection, I decided that they were definitely too separate kitchens.

The knobs, handles, & countertops don't match up. However, it is possible that the picture could have been taken in the kitchen of the Coffee Shop, but I have no way of knowing that unless I can find an old picture of it. I doubt it, though, because I think the Coffee Shop kitchen was lined with shelving instead of cabinets. It's just hard to say for sure because that part of the Sandwich Shoppe was badly water damaged.

Then again, the Corbin's sold the property in March of 1960 and Philip the Historian thinks that the newspaper article was published sometime after that, so it's probably Mrs. Corbin's home kitchen. Who knows. This is all just speculation.

The best part about this whole biscuit experience though, is that I now have a picture of Ruby Corbin! EEEE! Isn't she classy looking? Now I have to try and hunt down the picture of Ruby standing right at the foot of the White House Portico steps when President and Mrs. Roosevelt made their first public appearance after he was re-elected for the history-making third term.


  1. How cute is Mrs. Corbin? Adorable. And such a renaissance woman, interested in so many things. I like to think she'd have been a blogger.

    I love that your buddy sent you the info and I love that you tried the recipe. They look tasty.

  2. I'm pretty sure the former owners of our house made peach cobbler. And so I need you to make me some peach cobbler, k? :)
    I big fat pink puffy heart Phillip. He is awesome!


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