Thursday, May 27, 2010

Breakfast for dinner!

All right, I promised a post tonight, and a good dinner. Hans is helping friends move again, so I'm flying solo. The kids wanted bologna sandwiches, so that was quick and easy and out of the way. Now that they're in bed, I've started making dinner for myself.

Maybe I should preface all this by explaining a bit about myself. I'm from rural Northeast Georgia. I grew up mere miles from my Granny and Papa. I learned at an early age how to make some of the foods that epitomize the South and Southern fare, some from my mama, though truth be told, she's one of those "Damn Yankees,*" so most of what she taught me wasn't strictly Southern, but most was learned from my Granny. One of the things I learned from her was how to make biscuits. Biscuits aren't difficult, they don't require many ingredients, and the best way to screw them up is to try to overwork them. Some flour (I'm a cheater and use self-rising, but she usually did too, once it became as easy to find as all purpose!), some shortening (someday I will buy lard and make them truly authentic), and some ice water.

I also learned how to make sausage gravy, though that was from my Uncle Farrell. Most summers my family, which consisted of Mama, Daddy, my sister and I, would go camping with my Daddy's sister, Barbara, and her family, my Uncle Farrell, and cousins Chad and Jamie. It was a big to-do, usually lasting a week, and meals and groceries were split between the two families. I always remember the mornings that Uncle Farrell made breakfast, though - he would make sausage gravy from scratch over a Coleman stove. That was the best sausage gravy ever. I learned to make mine from watching and remembering his....

Okay, so now you know a little about my past. Today was one of those days where it seemed like the world was against me, so since I'm alone for dinner, I decided to turn to my comfort foods - gravy and biscuits. I browned up the sausage, some of which I will put aside for another dish, some of which will end up in my gravy. The biscuits are in the oven, and in a few minutes, I will start the gravy.

This is the part of the post where I would normally post recipes. However, because of how these were obtained, and because of what they are, like so many good Southern recipes, they're a lot less recipe, and a lot more suggestion. So let's start with the biscuits....

I started off with my little red bowl, since I was just making for me tonight. Poured in a bit of self rising flour - probably around 2 cups - and added 3TBS of shortening and used my pastry cutter to blend it. Then I used my 2 cup glass measuring cup, filled it with ice, then with water. Slowly mixed the water with the flour and shortening until I thought there was enough, then added about that much more. Took all the water in the measuring cup (I should add that I have a lid for this cup, and that I put it on and pour through its strainer), actually. Then I dropped by handfuls onto my pizza stone that had been pre-heated in the 450° oven and baked for 20 minutes.

Now, before I started my biscuits, I browned up a pound of spicy bulk sausage in my large cast iron skillet. I put half of that into the fridge, and kept half in the skillet. I also kept the fat in the skillet from browning the meat. I took my "gravy jar" (a spaghetti sauce jar that I keep just for this sort of thing because I find it gives me the best result), filled it halfway with milk, then added 2 tbs of self rising flour (Because it's what I had out already). Then I put the lid on it and shook it up till it was well mixed. Pour that into the skillet that has been kept hot, stirring the whole time. This will take about five minutes, with you stirring the entire time. You may have to add more liquid, depending on how hot your skillet is, or how thick or thin you like your gravy.

If the timing is right, the gravy and the biscuits should be ready about the same time. Pop the bisciuts out of the oven, slice one open, put a dab of butter on the biscuit, then load the gravy on. Dig in, ya'll!

*Damn Yankee - someone who comes to the south from the north, then falls in love with it and decides to stay. Not meant in any sort of derogatory way.

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