- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) - When Michelle Tehan was a little girl, she used to help her grandmother, Dot McMurray, make homemade buttermilk biscuits.

“I sat on her counter - that’s where you could help her better. There was no stool at my grandmother’s house,” said Tehan. “I’d get to pour the buttermilk. She’d say, ‘A little more, a little more. I’ll tell you when to stop.’”

Tehan, 35, has parlayed that early knowledge and her knack for baking into her own business: The Biscuit Shop in Starkville.

“To this day, I don’t have a recipe for my buttermilk biscuits,” she said. “It’s based on what size bowl I’m using. For me, it’s by sight.”

Tehan opened her business in June 2014 after successfully selling her made-from-scratch biscuits at the local farmers’ market and on Facebook.

“I was the business coordinator for Wildlife Fisheries and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University and I was baking from home and it reached a point where I was making my take-home pay in baking,” she said.

So she found a little house that spoke to her and hung out her sign.

“It’s just an 800-square-foot shotgun house built in 1934,” she said. “It’s small and quaint. It’s not the fanciest place in the world and there’s not a lot of parking. But when people walk in, it’s not much different than what they’d get in my home. And I don’t think you get that anywhere else.”

Tehan’s menu is limited to biscuits, homemade lemonade, soft drinks out of an old Vendo Coke machine and coffee. That’s pretty much it.

“I have no desire to make and sell anything other than biscuits,” she said.

But those biscuits come in many flavors.

Buttermilk and blueberry are her best sellers and are available every day. But her menu varies by day, by week and by season. Other varieties include sprinkles, cookies and cream, sausage and cheddar, maple bacon, lemon poppyseed, carrot cake, rosemary cheddar, peach, mixed berry, hot chocolate, red velvet and caramel apple. They range in price from $1 for biscuits to $3.50 for a sammich, which is a hand-held biscuit pie filled with meat or fruit.

“It’s unnatural - I don’t know how to explain it,” Tehan said. “It doesn’t matter what special ingredient I’m putting into a biscuit, I just know in the bowl how much it needs to cover. And they work every time.”

Cookies and cream is the newest flavor and one of the most popular. Starkville High School students came up with the idea for that one, including the icing.

And Tehan will quickly tell you each biscuit is different.

Sweet potato biscuits are the most time-consuming. Strawberry biscuits are the most tedious and her least favorite to make. Peach are the hottest seller in the summer.

“Hot chocolate was the most difficult to make, but when we finally got it, we nailed that sucker,” she said. “I’m not afraid to try new things. If we think it’s going to work, we’re going to try it.”

In January, she offered customers a pineapple biscuit.

“It was a good biscuit, but not good timing,” Tehan said. “It didn’t sell well and that’s a shame, too, because it was like a little pineapple upside-down cake.”

Tehan said the real reason she has a biscuit shop is because of family.

“Every Sunday morning my grandmother made biscuits and gravy and she still does,” Tehan said. “When family comes home for holidays, that’s our family reunion. So making biscuits was important to me - to be able to make biscuits with chocolate gravy for my kids. I love that kind of stuff.”

Tehan and her husband, Alan, have 8-year-old triplets and a 6-year-old.

“You have to make biscuits on a consistent basis for them to be good,” she said. “You have to make them every day. You don’t just wake up and say, ‘Hmm, I think I’ll make biscuits today.’”

On a typical weekday, Tehan said she makes between eight and 10 batches of biscuits for the shop (a batch is eight dozen). On weekends, that number increases to 13 to 15 batches; and on ballgame weekends, it jumps to 20 to 25 batches. Most days, she sells out of biscuits early, so it’s best to arrive early.

“There are no tables for seating here,” she said. “It’s just come and go. There are plenty of places in town with Wi-Fi and plenty of places to sit down. And I go to those places. This small, quaint house - it works for us. We may forever be this way.”

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com

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