Tomato Gravy for a Cold Night Down South

I never even heard of Tomato Gravy until I started dating my future husband.  He grew up in South Mississippi, and taught me this recipe the way his adopted mother taught it to him.  Some folks would call it a sauce, because there is no flour in this version.  Since it starts with pan drippings from meat (bacon), it technically qualifies as a gravy. Home canned tomatoes are to die for in this dish, but the store-bought ones also work fine.  I have acid reflux.  The onions and tomatoes together often make me pretty miserable afterwards.  As a result I double up on the antacids, and only make this dish once or twice a year.  It’s a family favorite, especially when the weather turns cold.

Ingredients:

  • Bacon (2-3 strips per serving)
  • Onion – 1 large or 2 medium, cut top to bottom into strips
  • Tomatoes – 2 cans (15 oz) or 2 pint jars, with liquid, diced.
  • Salt – a few dashes to taste
  • Black Pepper – to taste
  • Worcestershire Sauce – a splash or two (optional)
  • Garlic Powder – to taste (optional)

Steps:

  1.  In a large skillet or saute pan, cook bacon until just done.  Set aside on paper towels.   Saute Bacon
  2.  You only need enough bacon drippings to just cover the bottom of the pan.  If you cooked over six or eight strips of bacon, you might want to pour some off.
  3.  Saute cut onion in bacon grease, stirring to keep it from burning, until it starts to turn clear.  If you have some fresh minced garlic handy, you can add some, but not necessary.Saute onions in bacon grease
  4.  Add tomatoes with liquid to pan.  Stir well and break up any large pieces with spoon.  Bring up to fast simmer.
  5.  Add seasonings, stir some more and bring down to a slow simmer. Tomato Gravy on stove
  6. Cook uncovered for 10 or 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7.  Serve over biscuits and/or rice, with bacon on the side. Tomato Gravy plated
  8. Enjoy!

 

Quick Broccoli Lunch

About a year ago I had that much dreaded event of middle age – a colonoscopy.  The result was that the doctor said I should “eat more broccoli.”

Okay.  I actually like broccoli, but guess what?  No one else in my family will eat it.  Back when I had a full time job, I could easily get my broccoli fix eating out at lunch.  Unfortunately, that is not an option these days, due to family budget and staying close to home for “Granny duty.”

The solution is a quick, single-serving meal using frozen broccoli, dry pasta, and whatever leftover or canned meat is handy.  So here we go.

Broccoli lunch ingredients

Broccoli lunch ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen broccoli pieces (or fresh if you have it)
  • 1/2 cup dry pasta (I like penne, macaroni, or similar shape)
  • about 1/2 cup pre-cooked meat – leftovers or canned; chicken, pork, steak, tuna – whatever you have – cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 tbsp butter or margarine
  • about 2-3 cups water
  • salt, pepper, seasonings to taste
  • optional toppings: shredded cheese, ranch dressing, etc.

Steps:

  1.  Place frozen broccoli in a medium saucepan and cover with water.  Heat on stove over medium-high heat, bringing water to a boil.
  2.  When the water starts to boil, add butter and pasta.  Continue to boil 7 or 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3.  Turn off heat.  Carefully drain off as much water as possible.
  4.  Add the meat pieces to the hot pasta/broccoli and gently mix it together to warm the meat.
  5. Turn the contents of the saucepan onto a plate or into a bowl.
  6.  Season to taste and add whatever topping(s) fit your mood.
  7.  Enjoy!

 

Broccoli and pork lunch, ready to eat.

Broccoli and pork lunch, ready to eat.

This was my first attempt at “homemade” photos for a food-related blog.  Obviously, I need more practice with presentation, but the taste was spot-on.

Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe Suitable for Stuffing a Holiday Bird

Whether you like holiday dressing in the bird or as a side dish, this Southern Classic is sure to please everyone.  The following recipes were previously published on my member page of the now-defunct Associated Content / Yahoo! Contributor Network.

As a Yankee, city-raised person who married into a Southern family, I have had many failures and successes attempting meals for my husband as delicious as his mother would make. I’m sharing these recipes for cornbread and dressing to honor my late mother-in-law, who had the patience and humor to teach me the finer points of preparing proper Southern cuisine.

So here is the recipe to make cornbread dressing or stuffing for a holiday bird. All the ingredients will be cooked before going in the oven to bake. It can be prepared ahead of time and set aside, covered until needed.

Cornbread Dressing

Ingredients:

  • about 4-5 cups (2 batches) of cornbread (see below) – crumbled
  • about 3 cups of chicken broth – divided
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion – cut to medium chop
  • 2 medium green bell peppers – cut to medium chop
  • 3 celery ribs – cut to medium chop
  • 1 bundle of green onion – cut to medium chop
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 bundle of fresh parsley – coarsely chopped
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine

Steps:

  1.  Place crumbled cornbread in deep oblong baking pan (13 X 9 or larger). Stir in 2 cups of the chicken broth and spread out evenly in pan. Set aside so bread can absorb liquid.
  2.  If you haven’t already boiled the eggs, you can prepare them while chopping the vegetables: Place eggs in a small saucepan with enough water to cover on high heat. When the water starts to boil, set a timer to 12 minutes and continue boiling uncovered. When they are done, remove from heat.  Carefully drain out hot water and cover in pan with cold water.
  3.  Drop butter in a large, heavy skillet, on stove top over medium to medium-high heat.
  4.  Add chopped onion, green peppers, celery and green onion to skillet. Stir into melting butter and saute’ on medium heat, stirring occasionally until onions start to turn clear.
  5.  Add minced garlic and mix in with the other vegetables, being careful not to let the garlic burn.
  6.  Add the chopped parsley to the other vegetables, blending it all together. Cover for a few minutes, turning down the heat to a low simmer and let the parsley wilt.
  7.  Pour the entire skillet of vegetables and melted butter over moistened cornbread and mix together thoroughly. Stir in more chicken broth, but not so much as to be “soupy.”
  8. Peel eggs and cut to medium chop. Stir into cornbread mixture. Cover, and allow to sit while you are preparing the bird and other holiday fixings.
  9. Occasionally stir the cornbread dressing and check for moistness. If it is too dry, add more broth and/or water. Also check for seasoning. You might want to add a little salt or black pepper to taste.
  10. To bake as a stuffing: Allow about 1/2 cup stuffing per pound of bird. Cook bird as directed, adding 5 minutes per pound for dressing-stuffed bird versus one stuffed with, say an apple, orange, onion, celery, etc.
  11. To bake as a dressing on the side: Bake in the 13 X 9 dish at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, until top is browned and center is still moist.

 

Southern Style Cornbread

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal (plain or yellow)
  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup milk

Steps:

  1.  Pour cooking oil to cover bottom of a deep cast iron skillet or other heavy, oven-proof dish. Place in cold oven. Turn on oven to preheat to 400 degrees.
  2.  In a mixing bowl combine cornmeal mix, flour, salt and pepper. Make a well in the dry mix.
  3.  Add egg and beat lightly. Pour milk into well and blend with egg and dry ingredients until the consistency of thick pancake batter, but do not over-mix. Set aside to rise while oven preheats.
  4.  When the oven is preheated to 400 degrees, remove the hot skillet and set on stove top.
  5.  Optional step: Sprinkle a little dry cornmeal in ahead of the batter to make a very crispy crust.
  6.  Stir the batter a little, then pour over hot oil in skillet. Be careful, it will spatter some.
  7.  Return the skillet to the oven and bake at 400 degress for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Invert plate over skillet and carefully turn over so that skillet is on top – watching out for hot oil drips.
  8.  Cut hot cornbread as desired and serve. Makes about 8 pie-shaped servings.

Happy Holidays, Y’all!

 

Granny Time

Can’t touch this… Oh, that’s “Hammer Time” (she said knowing it shows her age). Today is my first off day since the Granddaughter came down with a bad stomach virus last week. Bless her heart. She’s in the throes of potty training and BOY, has she had a lot of practice this past week.

I need to start by saying that in the past few weeks she:
a. started at daycare;
b. joined the ranks of “terrific two’s”;
c. got sicker that any toddler deserves.

What this means is just as Granny was getting used to having her weekday schedule freed-up, she got thrust back into baby-sitting a cranky toddler during the day and squeezing in housework and quality time with Big Papa in between.

Really, except for my back getting very tired, it wasn’t that bad for me. My poor daughter-in-law and stepson were the ones who had to deal with watery poops and puking in the middle of the bed, in the middle of the night, and THEN having to pull themselves together and face the outside world during the day.

I’ve always said there’s a reason that young people are the ones who have small children. Grandparents (usually) only have to deal with them for periods of short duration. Of course, that is also what makes those times so very special – poopy diapers and all… don’t touch that!

To Call a Mockingbird

Today we are having our first dose of sunshine in over a week.  Although it’s brisk outside, it feels very different from our recent ice storm. It is a very welcome change.

This morning I was walking across the yard with Wingnut’s feed bucket, listening to it’s distinctive “squeak” as the metal bale moves with the swing of the bucket in rhythm with my foot falls.  With each squeak, I heard a clear echoing SQUEAK from a nearby tree:  squeak, SQUEAK, squeak, SQUEAK.  A young mockingbird was answering my “call.”  He perfectly nailed the pitch, tone and duration, but his call was much louder than mine.  I stopped, turning toward the tree, looking up.  He flew directly over me, continuing his SQUEAK call, never missing a beat.

Over the years we’ve been amused by the way these little miracles of Nature will incorporate various sounds from the neighborhood into their songs.  We’ve heard birdy approximations of car horns, dog barks, cat yowls, smoker’s cough, etc.  This was the first time. though, that I’ve had such a call-and-response conversation.

If this fellow hangs around, I’ll probably hear this squeaky bucket call from the trees well into summer.

Love,

Granny Barb

Brrrr!

Let’s hear it for hair dryers…

Despite a 100 watt incandescent light bulb aimed right at the water well regulator thingy, it froze just before daylight.  Our low temp was 15 degrees F.  I was prepared to prime the pump, which isn’t difficult, but is a genuine pain in the patoot.  Happily, a hair dryer on high heat got it thawed and going again.  Water pressure is fine.  Yeah!  I can flush the toilets, do the dishes, brush my teeth! 😀

The three horses are fine.  They’ve been fed and given a few flakes of peanut hay, which is much higher protein content than regular hay, so it cannot be “free” fed.  The feed store was out of the usual hay, and suggested peanut hay.  It’s almost twice the cost, but you only feed half as much, so it all works out.  Anyway, I had to break the inch thick layer of ice on top of the water troughs.  Our high temp today is in the mid-30’s, so I’ll need to check it again before dark.

I’m drinking hot liquids, trying to get rid of this ball of phlegm sitting in my throat.  Hope I’m not relapsing my uber-cold from Christmas. 😦  Sinuses hurt, but I think that’s just the central heat being on almost non-stop.  Not looking forward to the next power bill.

Big Papa says he’s getting a nap, but I can hear his laptop mouse clicking from the bedroom.  Actually, it’s a good day to cuddle up and take a nap, since neither of us slept well last night.

Hope ya’ll are staying warm.

Love, Granny Barb