Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Food For Surviving The Winter...!


Now, those of you that live in the South or have been in the South for any length of time, know that there is one food that stands out as the breakfast of champions!

Gravy...! All kind of gravy! Call it milk gravy, flour gravy, country gravy, red-eye gravy, sausage gravy, or saw mill gravy! No matter what kind or what base you use...gravy and biscuits is a traditional breakfast for a lot of country folks.

This is a real "stick-to-your-ribs" food and is just as good for supper as it is for breakfast! Very filling, cheap to make, good for using all the ingredients in the pantry.

One of my favorites is the Sawmill Gravy...and I found an old time recipe for this wonderful, wonderful dish! The beauty of this dish is that it uses cornmeal instead of flour as a base!

Below is a little history and the recipe for this culinary wonder! I hope you enjoy it!

"Sawmill gravy (or Logging gravy). In the years following the turn of the century, logging camps sprang up all over the Smoky Mountains where timber companies had bought up tracts of virgin timber. Lumberjacks and saw-millers by the hundreds came in to snake out the logs to nearby streams, sawmills, and newly built railheads.

Entire families moved in with the men to the camps. To feed the multitude was a big challenge. Breakfasts usually consisted of coffee and meat plus flour-based gravies and large "Cathead" biscuits.

One day, the story goes, the Tremont camp ran out of flour and had to substitute cornmeal in the gravy. Inquisitive loggers arriving before breakfast asked what kind of gravy was on the menu that day. "This gravy's made out of sawdust!" the cooks replied. The name stuck. The cheap, easy-to-fix cornmeal gravy caught on.

While "sawmill gravy" was the popular nickname, some called it "Logging Gravy." Others named it Poor Do or Life Everlasting, a reference to what many felt was its role in keeping them alive. This recipe adapation comes from Janice Miracle of Middlesboro, Kentucky...

"Life Everlasting" Sawmill Gravy

3 heaping tablespoons white cornmeal
1 tablespoon bacon drippings
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups milk
A dash of pepper

In a frying pan, combine cornmeal, bacon drippings, and salt. Stir until brown. Add milk and let boil until gravy thickens. Stir forcefully to keep gravy from pumping. Add pepper to taste."
---ibid (p. 207-8)


If you have never had this gravy using cornmeal...let me suggest that you try it. I really think you'll find it very satisfying !

You know, if I am ever lucky enough to meet a young lady that likes the country, can bake good biscuits and bread and cookies, and can make great gravy...then I might even consider getting married again! Looks aren't important, but if a lady can cook...well, then that is a different story all together!

Now, my friends, let's get some fresh coffee and sit in the kitchen for a bit! OK?

28 comments:

Bustednuckles said...

Gravy is it's own food group, kinda like beer is.
My Granny was from Missouri and Tennessee and I have yet to see anyone make gravy like she did. She always cooked the Roux a little bit darker than anyone else and Boy Howdy, was it always good!
Even her Milk gravy was dark.
YUM!!
I'd drink two pots of coffee to get some of that again.

HermitJim said...

Hey Busted...
Nothing like a really good gravy...and the best was always made by the old folks! Bet she used a cast iron skillet as well! That seems to be the best cookware for making good gravy!

I think that most of our grannies were artist when it came to cooking!

Hey, I sure thank you for coming by today, Busted!

Bustednuckles said...

Yer right and I still have some of her skillets, I just wish I had paid more attention when she was using them!

HermitJim said...

Hey Busted...
I know exactly what you mean, brother! Guess it's like the old saying goes..." Too soon old, too late smart"!

When I think of how much more I could have learned if I had only had the common sense in my youth to pay more attention to my Dad, Grand dad...all of my wise old elders!

Thanks again, buddy!

Tatersmama said...

I've had failings in my life, but failing to pay attention to my Mama's and 2 grandmother's cooking wasn't one of them! Grandma Poadie was from TN, and Mama and Nana Wainscott were from Missouri/Okla.... and man, could those ladies make gravy! The result is that I make the best darn gravy you'll ever sop a biscuit with... no matter what the fixin's are. Too bad my Aussie guy doesn't like gravy, in ANY form..lol!
;-)

Rae said...

Gravy - one of the basic food groups. You can't ever go wrong with it. I have never tried it with cornmeal though -just flour. Now cornmeal grits that is another one of those basic southern food groups. I must have some southern blood cause I love grits.

Momlady said...

Another good use of corn meal is to make journey cakes (sometimes called Johnny cakes). I've learned to make them in the fireplace. My next house will have a fireplace with cranes for cooking. Recipe for the cakes? Nope....I'll keep that to myself for now. And now.....coffee.

Lisa in Bammer said...

Come on down to Bammer, Hermit. I can make tomato gravy that grown men here at work fight over! Mamma might not have taught me how to be a lady but she taught me how to cook!

Ben in Texas said...

Yep, Gravy making is almost a lost art form! I have never made your corneal version, but will put my flour version up against any body. Ever try and tell someone how to do it? Not going to happen, you have to SHOW them, sometimes more than once.

( think my biscuits are bout done, back later)

Anonymous said...

Hermit, a great subject. Reading caused my stomach to start rumbling, actually begging. Ah, for a big platter of biscuits and gravy, I'd trade my eye teeth and probably even my eyeglasses and forget seeing the BP and cholesterol numbers shoot up

As for finding a perfect wife, "young" might be a hindering quality. It takes much experience to be adept at excellent cooking, don't 'cha no'? It appears you might not live to a ripe old age with all these yummy "visions".

Health be damned, what' your favorite cookie? I make a killer oatmeal raisin and will do so and mail to you. Have that glass of milk ready.

JoJo said...

Good Morning My Special One, now I can't make gravey but I sure love to eat it with biscuits, I had a mother-in law who made the best sausage gravy ever, used that bacon grease too. And grits yum just love those too.
Now while your looking for a lady to cook I'm looking for that guy, LOL I did enough cooking over the years now I want someone to cook for me. LOL
Lets sit and drink coffee and see what we come up with.

Anonymous said...

Would love to try this. Does it have to be white cornmeal?

HermitJim said...

Hey Tatersmama...
That's too bad that your friend doesn't like gravy! Sounds as though he is missing out on a real treat to me...!

I think it's great that you learned from the older folks, as they seemed to know the "secret" of making good gravy!

Hey, thanks for coming by today!


Hey Rae...
Grits have been in my Mom's pantry as long as I can remember! Most everyone I know eats grits...and I have only known a few that don't like 'em!

I certainly appreciate you coming by today!


Hey Momlady...
Good morning to ya! Ya know, fried cornbread is one of my favorites...and I have had Journey cakes before! A true feast, that's for sure!

Wonder why I'm thinking of food more and more lately?

Welcome back home...and thanks for coming by!


Hey Lisa...
I've heard that the ladies in Bammer can cook darn well! Gonna have to make a trip down there one of these days!

Sounds like your momma taught you the important stuff!

Hey, thanks for coming by today!


Hey Ben...
Somehow, I just knew you would be a good gravy maker! Guess most of us Texas boys can do that! reckon we won't starve as long as we can do biscuits and gravy, huh?

Thanks for coming by today, buddy


Hey Anon 8:12...
Actually, young is to me anyone younger than myself...and I'm 65! I figure that gives me a lot of room for finding a "young" lady!

Everyone knows that the best cooks are more mature and well seasoned...sort of like a good cast iron skillet, right?

I sure do appreciate you dropping by today!


Hey JoJo...
Funny you should mention that...cause I'm a pretty fair cook myself! I'm not half bad at it for an old guy!

Maybe we could work something out!

Thanks, Sweetie, for coming by today!


Hey Anon 9:06...
That's what the recipe calls for, but I reckon you could use white or yellow cornmeal !

I see the white cornmeal in the store all the time, as so many folks here use it for corn bread!

Keep me posted on how it turns out!

Thanks for dropping in today!

CoyotePrime said...

That recipe sounds great, HermitJim. Copied it, can't wait for the Mrs. to cook it up. Thanks!

HermitJim said...

Hey Coyote...
Does sort of make your mouth water a bit, doesn't it?

Can't go wrong with gravy! Goes with just about everything!

Thanks for coming by today!

Bob Mc said...

I love good gravy, even on grits. Never heard of making it with corn meal though. I'll have to give that a try.

HermitJim said...

Hey Bob...
Can't ever tell...it might be just to your liking!

Just like you, I've never meet a gravy I didn't like!

Hey, appreciate you coming by today, Bob!

Ken said...

...Mornin'Jim,great topic for a post,there are as many gravies as there are people huh ?...no two recipes really the same...hell,i make gravy and eat it like soup...gonna try this cornmeal version of yers this weekend...Thanx Brother...

HermitJim said...

Hey Ken...
You got that right about being as many different gravies as folks making it!

Same recipe can turn out really different when fixed by two different cooks!

Hey buddy, thanks for the visit this morning!

Marie said...

My husband loves biscuits and gravy, so will write this one down, since making gravy is not on my list of talents. I agree with the thought that you have to be shown how to make gravy--I've seen it done, hopefully enough that this recipe may actually turn out well for me...thanks for sharing!

HermitJim said...

Hey Marie...
You should get a few packages of the gravy mix at the grocery! They have a country gravy that isn't bad...if you add enough black pepper and hot sauce to it!

Kinda like canned biscuits! Not as good as made from scratch, but it'll do in a pinch!

Thanks so much for coming by!

One pair of Hands said...

I'm so glad I found your blog. Our daughter has just returned from a visit to your country and was most interested in your milk gravy. We don't have it here, mostly use milk for custard. I know she will be pleased to have your recipe for sawdust gravy. Thank you for sharing it with us.

HermitJim said...

Hey Hands...
I'm glad you found us as well! I have several readers from Australia and one of them is a transplanted lady from the states! She likes gravy, but her Aussie companion doesn't care for it! Go figure!

I hope you won't be a stranger...and I thank you for coming by today!

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

Have to see if'n I can finds me a woman who can cook, see if she'd be willin' to whup up some sawmill...

Oh, wait...
;D

Nice recipe, Uncle H! Have to try it out,as I'm right fond of gravy...

HermitJim said...

Hey Cygnus...
I think you better look at home! I think that the lady in residence will be more than happy to make some for ya!

Should go very well ith some fresh home made bread!

Hey, thanks for coming by today!

The Sprouting Acorn said...

Mmmmm… Homemade bread… love making it, love smelling it, just love it! As for gravy, I've never tried it with cornmeal. May have to test that one out-- in a black iron skillet, of course. I think I'm down to one "newfangled" skillet that I've yet to toss and I'll have nothing but black iron. It's the only way to go.

Ozark Momma said...

Cast iron, dark roux and evaporated milk with just a touch of water (not enough to make much of a difference)...salt and pepper the heck out of it. Yeah baby...that's good gravy!

HermitJim said...

Hey Acorn...
Cast iron is definitely the way to go, in my opinion! You are a smart lady, for sure!

I'm sure glad you could come by today!


Hey Momma...
I figured you would know all about good gravy! Lots of black pepper, for sure!

I knew there was a reason I luv ya !

Thans, lady, for coming by today!