So, I have to start this blog by saying my husband detests food posts. However, other people love food posts, and sometime I do, too. I don’t do them very often, but with the air buzzing with dozens of tiny mosquito voices telling you to eat this and not eat that, every once in a while I just want to throw out there “This is what I’m eating and it’s good because I made it myself.”
From time to time, we like to have breakfast for dinner. I prefer this time for breakfast for several reasons. 1. I have more time to prepare the food. On a daily basis, I don’t get up at the crack of dawn just to go down and cook breakfast for the family like my mom used to do. I’m not even hungry when I wake up, or even a couple of hours after I wake up (Yes, I know. People say you should eat breakfast within an hour of getting up, but others say eat when you’re hungry.) 2. I don’t care for typical breakfast food that early in the day. 3. I like my food made right. I don’t pull out a can of refrigerated biscuits or pancake mix. No. This is from scratch. Yum.
First of all, I make Baking Powder Biscuits, recipe courtesy of my now coverless Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. It’s held together by a short three-ring binder and the outside cover popped off about 10 years ago and was trashed. Unfortunately, this means part of the index is now missing, as the pages get torn off in the cupboard. I should really rebind the book. There’s that whole TIME thing ago. If I were a Time Lord, this would not be a problem.
What I love about Baking Powder Biscuits is that they are crunchy on the top and bottom, and flaky and soft on the inside. The absolute best biscuits for holding gravy. I love a good biscuits and gravy meal, but so many restaurants use bready, soft biscuits and I’m always disappointed. I want my biscuit to offer some resistance. My sister and I scoured shops to find the style of pasty cutter we preferred, a serrated circle with a handle (not a ricer), and this mixes up in just a minute or two. I roll out the dough and cut out with the open end of a small tomato paste can for a 2-inch round, or I use a 3-inch circle cutter, depending on my mood. I keep rolling out the dough and cutting until I get down to the last little nib, not wasting a bit. You’ll see there is a mini-biscuit in the corner of the sheet. The kids fight over who gets the mini. Twelve minutes to bake.
Secondly, I cook up crumbled sausage. This pork sausage comes from our local meat market, a great place to find quality, flavorful meat at or below supermarket prices with more selection, including fresh bison, lamb, goat, chicken, pork, and beef. These meats come from farms less than 50 miles from our home. Plus, I know the men and women behind the counter. They’ve worked there for 20 years and they know what you want in your cut. They won’t sell you crappy cuts and they will cut you anything you want. Their sausage usually has a little peppery kick.
After I cook the sausage and remove it from the pan, I whisk up some tasty gravy. I learned how to make perfect cream gravy from my mother. No packaged mix here (too salty)! This is a little bit of meat drippings, a couple tablespoons of flour, and pepper browned a few minutes, then milk added in. I’ve learned by doing that milk with fat in it works the best. Skim milk does not a gravy make. 1% will work, but whole is the best. No measurement on the milk–I just pour in enough until it looks right, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.
The kids always request pancakes. Again, Better Homes and Gardens is the recipe I turn to, and I am proud I know this recipe by heart. 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 beaten egg, 1 cup of milk, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Stir until moistened. It’s important not to over mix the batter. It should be a little bit lumpy.
All of this I cook in cast iron skillets. I grew tired of having to buy new non-stick skillets whenever the coating came off. I’m sure some people have a sure-fire method to preserving their non-stick coating, but I prefer cast iron. It’s easy to clean, won’t get scratched, if it rusts you just re-season the surface, and you get a decent arm workout in the process. They aren’t light. In my collection, I have two skillets that were used by my mother for all 50 years of her marriage. Find a non-stick skillet with that kind of history. They also transfer to the grill or campfire.
Some might be interested in how much sugar is in this meal. Processed sugar – only in the pancakes. 1 tablespoon. (We top these with real maple syrup from our connection in Massachusetts.) Refrigerated biscuit dough contains sugar as ingredient, along with artificial flavors, where homemade biscuits do not. Salt content is completely under your control at home, as well. While the recipes for biscuits and gravy usually contain salt, I’m not a salt lover, so I often leave it out or use a fraction less. I find most prepackaged and restaurant foods to be too salty. I’ll put in a dash of salt where the recipe calls for a teaspoon. And I rarely add salt to sausage gravy. The sausage is so flavorful already, the end product doesn’t need extra salt. And did it really take that long? No. Thirty minutes at most. And everybody eats plenty of it, kids and adults.
On Health: I believe everyone should eat a variety of foods in moderation, and not gorge themselves or starve themselves of any one type of food. You can swap the flour in the pancakes and biscuits for whole wheat, or you can swap your pork sausage for turkey sausage if that’s what you prefer. 1% milk makes an acceptable gravy if you want to lower the fat. Every once in a while, it’s okay to enjoy something that’s made just like your grandmother used to make on the farm. Starving yourself actually tricks your body into saving fat to prevent starvation. Allowing yourself a variety of foods and getting a minimum amount of exercise will help with a healthy lifestyle. My 2 cents on the subject.
Future food topics: Lemon Meringue Pie from scratch (including the crust), Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, and Baked Macaroni and Cheese.