2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup shortening or lard, chilled (see Note, below)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (or milk+ 1tsp vinegar, stir and let sit 5 minutes)
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl.
Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender, and add the buttermilk, blending quickly, just until dry ingredients are moistened. A sticky dough will result.
Turn the dough out on a floured board.
Flour your hands and knead the dough 3 or 4 times.
Important: Do not overhandle the dough or you'll be eating rocks!
Roll or pat to a 3/4-inch thickness, and cut with a biscuit cutter.
Repeat with the scraps of dough.
For soft-sided biscuits, place close together on a lightly greased baking sheet or in a lightly greased cast iron skillet (vegetable cooking spray works just fine). For biscuits that are crusty all around, place about an inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake at 425°F for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
Makes about eight 3-inch or about a dozen 2-inch biscuits.