Photo Credit: Daisysworld.net
This morning I am fasting for a doctor’s appointment and blood work later in the day. As I sip strong coffee without my lovely hazelnut creamer, biscuits and gravy keep coming to mind. They get such a bad rap these days, filled with all that white flour and fat goodness. I don’t understand why they are so bad, when the same fit and lean lovelies in my life (who refuse to eat these white carbs) seem less bothered with sugar-laden yummies…but that’s for another blog.
Growing up in the South, biscuits and gravy bring all sorts of sweet memories to mind. My beautiful mom always worked long hours outside the home through the week. Weekends were filled with catching up with housework, church, and us. Still, she would cook the loveliest breakfasts for us, and, in particular, the best biscuits and gravy. She mixed the dough by hand. In fact, she had a wooden bowl where the flour stayed between fixings. [Sidebar – I never knew what happened to that bowl. At some point she changed to a plastic one with a lid; easier to store the flour between times, for sure.],
She hollowed out a valley of self-rising flour in that flour bowl and mixed buttermilk and shortening into it. Gradually with those expert hands of hers, turning and turning, those 3 ingredients became biscuit dough. Then she hand-formed and patted those biscuits into little flattened rounds of loveliness. A few minutes in a hot oven, and magic happened.
While the biscuits baked, Mom made the milk gravy in a cast iron skillet. Sometimes, it was just a mash of flour and shortening (a roux, right?), with milk poured on top…slowly cooked to thickened perfection. Sometimes, sausage was gloriously added. Lots of pepper and just enough salt.
Mom’s biscuits weren’t the tall fluffy kind. They were more flat and chewy (with that sour bite of buttermilk). No matter how many she made, on a weekend with all of us around the table, there was always a grab for the last one. We ate the biscuits opened with gravy poured on. Mom liked a tomato diced on top of hers, and I took after her in that.
In all my life of cooking, my biscuits are never as good as hers. I do miss the days when, even as inferior as mine were, we sat around the weekend breakfast table with our teenagers, making our own biscuit and gravy traditions. These days, with the world so health-conscious, we don’t do this sort of breakfasting as much anymore…but the memories are, in themselves, satisfying.
Still…after my doctor’s visit, I wish I could make it to Hardee’s before they finish their breakfast service. Best biscuits and gravy option I have…since Mom’s with the Lord now…but hers were the very best.
Finally, one quick story….When we were living in Tunisia, North Africa, we had great British friends also living in our neighborhood. We enjoyed many servings of tea and cake around their table. One weekend morning, I invited them for an American breakfast of biscuits and gravy. First, “biscuits” in British terminology are cookies. Gravy is also brown and served over meat with dinner not at breakfast. So the idea of a meat gravy served over sweet cookies, for breakfast, turned out not yummy-sounding to our friends.
They were sweetly polite…but just didn’t understand that combination. Even upon tasting, the husband commented how it was an odd thing to do with scones. Live and learn.
Best Biscuits in Nashville – We had those biscuits at Monell’s. Yum!