Friday, January 11, 2013
Chocolate Gravy & Other Exotics
I just read a food article about Southern cooking in today's Arizona Republic newspaper. The article described the evolution of southern cooking and offered mouth-watering recipes for southern cornbread, fried chicken, pinto beans with ham hocks as well as a recipe for cooking greens.
All of this set my mind back to the great old "okie" meals my mother cooked for us as children. We survived on very little income and my mother was genius in being able to turn out delicious meals on little money. Our budget did not afford meat in any abundance but made up for it in flavor.
A typical meal at our house would consist of southern cornbread, cooked in a hot iron skillet, a pot of beans, flavored with a ham hock and a big bowl of cole slaw. Dessert would be a fruit cobbler or a chocolate cake made entirely from scratch.
Another simple meal might be hot dogs and sauerkraut. My mother used to make home-made sauerkraut in big gallon jars and it was delicious. Supper might also mean fried potatoes with spam and cornbread or great northern beans with chunks of ham. All were so good.
And yes, mom did venture out from southern cooking and we would have spaghetti. Our favorite Mexican dish was her enchiladas, served with a big bowl of fresh green salad. Even into her later years, when she heard I was coming home to visit she would run out and get the ingredients for enchiladas to prepare for me. Such love and caring I received! Not long after my mother died I was going through the pockets of her coat and found a grocery list consisting of a list of ingredients for enchiladas she was preparing for me. I had to sit down and have a good cry....and I still have that grocery list.
For some reason, my mom just could not cook a decent bowl of oatmeal or cream of wheat. I cook both often and have no problem but my mom's was always lumpy and uneven. But mom did leave us all our favorite breakfast recipe, Chocolate Gravy. For you "northerners" I urge you to cease the sneering and give it a try; it is, if not healthy, such a superb comfort food on a winter morning that it is without equal:
3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa powder
2 cups sugar (or seven tablespoons Splenda for sugar-free)
1/3 cup of corn starch or 3/4 cup of flour
One quart of cold whole milk (for creamier gravy use 2 large cans evaporated milk plus equal count water)
Pour cold milk into a medium size pot
Add dry ingredients into the cold milk (milk must be room temp or colder to prevent lumps)
Mix the wet and dry ingredients and stir until smooth
Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened into pudding like texture
Serve over hot biscuits, toast or crepe thin crispy pancakes. Top with two or three tabs of butter.
Note: Don't even ask me about calorie/carb count or nutritional values. Sometimes you just gotta be naughty.
Y'all have a great day, hear!