A recent Facebook/Twitter conversation had me reminiscing about a favorite breakfast my mother used to make for me when I was a kid, that I now prepare for my kids – egg gravy. Apparently, that isn’t a food term many people knew. Being that I love to cook, and love to share what I cook, I’m re-posting this from my former blog. My mom’s recipe for vanilla egg gravy is included…
I grew up in East Tennessee in the heart of Appalachia under the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains. Being a true Southern girl, food was an important part of my upbringing.
Each summer my mother’s people would gather from far and wide for a family reunion, always held at my great-grandfather’s farm. The uncles would haul in two flatbed hay wagons and each one would be loaded down with homemade Southern food. One wagon held the fried chicken, roast beef, green beans and ham hocks, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits, smashed taters and gravy, homemade jams and jellies (for the warm biscuits), and every other comfort food imaginable.
The other wagon was reserved for desserts. Coconut cream cake, chocolate cake, apple pie, cherry pie, peach pie, pecan pie, cobblers and cookies. Enough sweets to throw a third world country into insulin shock.
To the side of the wagons were the grills cooking up hot dogs and hand-patted hamburgers ~ made from farm raised beef.
Under the huge antebellum oaks sat the ice cream churns. All the kids clamored over who got to sit on top while the grown-ups cranked. The one holding down the crank got first dibs on the ice cream when it was done.
And, it wasn’t just these once a year blow-outs. Food was not looked upon as a bad thing back in the day. You celebrated food. You never worried about carb counts or fat (using lard added flavor!), and forget about combining two, three, sometimes four starches in one meal ~ it was a given.
I have my mother and grandmother to thank for my love of cooking. These women could put on a spread like it was your last meal, any day, every day. It’s called comfort food for a reason.
Breakfasts were glorious. Biscuits, fresh butter and homemade peach jelly, farm raised ham or sausage, fried potatoes and eggs still warm from the hens, tomatoes fresh from the garden, and whole milk thick enough to leave a white mustache.
But, my favorite was egg gravy. For the uninitiated that is warm pudding served over toast. I do use wheat bread these days, but the idea is the same. Warm, buttery, vanilla pudding poured over crispy slices of bread ~ preferably homemade.
I know, it sounds truly odd, but homemade pudding is fabulous. The combination of the rich, sweet pudding and the crunching bread is delicious. And it has to be homemade pudding, none of these powdered mixes or chemical infused plastic cups. I make my pudding the way my grandmother and my mother before me did, in a pan, on the stove from a recipe handed down through the generations.
Oh, to be young again and be able to eat whatever I want and not gain an ounce. Only, I would also have to leave the house at first light and not stop moving, running, playing, hiking, biking, an all around whirlwind of activity, until dark.
There has to be a compromise in there somewhere.
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon butter
Combine sugar, flour and salt. (Mixing until well blended ~ this helps prevent lumping). Stir in milk, and heat over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken ~ 10-12 minutes ~ stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching.
Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Gradually stir in about 1/4 of the hot milk mixture into the yolks (this tempers the yolks keeping them from curdling when adding to the pot), add egg mixture to the milk mixture; continue to cook, stirring until mixture thickens ~ 2-5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
Ladle hot pudding over toast and serve.
Spoon any remaining pudding into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, laying it directly on the pudding to prevent a ‘skin’ from forming over the top. Chill and serve.
*Linking up with Honesty and Truly’s Tasty Tuesday