Combine yeast and warm water; let stand 5 minutes. Add buttermilk, and set aside. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl; cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk, mixture, stirring with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn biscuit dough out onto a heavily floured surface, and knead lightly 4 or 5 times. Roll dough to 1/3 inch thickness; cut with a 1 3/4 inch biscuit cutter. Place on lightly greased baking sheets, and bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until done. Serve with ham.
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