Sunday, October 5, 2008

In honor of Dad's 62nd birthday, or, Invasion of the Biscuit-and-Gravy Pod People

Today would have been my dad's 62nd birthday.  On this day, I try to do something fun to celebrate Dad's birthday that I think he would enjoy, too.  Guy had to go into the office this afternoon, so I decided to make a proper Southern breakfast to fuel him for the day.  I broached the subject last night as Guy tucked me into bed.  (He stays up later than I do, and I get up earlier than I do.  Hence, he tucks me in and kisses me goodnight, and I kiss him good morning when his alarm goes off and I've already had a workout and a shower.)

Pixie: So, tomorrow is Dad's 62nd birthday, and I wanna make breakfast in his honor.
Guy: Oh, okay.  Sounds yummy.
Pixie: Oooh!  I know just what I'm gonna make, too!
Guy: What?
Pixie: I'm gonna make biscuits, country ham, eggs, and get some sliced cheese, and--
Guy: You know what's missing from those biscuits?  Some gr--
Pixie: [nearly leaping out of bed]  No!  Fuck your gravy!
Guy: [falling over laughing on the bed]  "Fuck my gravy"?
Pixie: You need to think of your stupid gravy box!  I was gonna suggest making breakfast biscuit sammitches with the ham and eggs and cheese, but you want to drown everything in some damn gravy!
Guy: [still chuckling]  Look, I'm sorry, but you need gravy with biscuits.
Pixie: Well I'm sorry, but you need therapy.  Biscuits don't always need gravy.  I'm talking about breakfast biscuits, like we get at McDonald's.
Guy: You get biscuits at McDonald's.  I get an Egg McMuffin or a breakfast burrito.  I don't need some flavorless bread as part of my breakfast.
Pixie: [sighing] Fine, tomorrow, in honor of my deceased father, I will take some tasty meat, tasty egg, and tasty cheese, and I will sandwich them in between two pieces of homemade buttermilk cardboard, and you will like it.
Guy: [kissing Pixie's forehead]  Yes, dear.

So, this morning, I made biscuits.  And I mean homemade buttermilk biscuits.

Flour, baking soda, and salt with butter.  Mix/cut the butter into the flour mixture with two knives or your hands until it looks like coarse meal.

Then, pour in a cup of milk and mix until all the dry stuff is evenly moistened.  You can use buttermilk, or as I do, you can add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to the cup of regular milk, because it helps "curdle" the milk properly.

Scatter the flour on the countertop (oh, soft heavenly flour!) and turn out the dough on the counter.  The less you work (knead) the dough, the more tender your biscuits are.  Pat it to about 3/4" thick, then cut the biscuits and put them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Spacing them close together allows them to "steam" on each other while they bake.  Pop 'em in the oven at 450 for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on weather, elevation, flour type, etc.  I use Hungarian high altitude flour.  

I baked these for 12 minutes, which was about the top end of their baking time.  They ended up a tad brown for my tastes, but they were still nice and soft inside and they had a little dusting of flour on top.  Again, NOM.

Lawd, honeh.  Them's good.

I made two biscuit sandwiches for me and let Guy make his two.  I polished mine off in short order while drinking coffee and reading the funnies.  Guy ate, then got up and started dong laundry before he went to work, and left this at his place at the table.

Um, excuse me?  Did someone leave some biscuit, ham, and egg on his plate?

I confronted Guy on his apparent lack of interest in my Southern culinary masterpiece.  He countered by saying he had too much to eat and got full.  After some back and forth, it turns out that Guy managed to eat the two largest biscuits and most of the ham.  So, this time, I'll give him a pass on not finishing his biscuit.

But we still have dinner tonight.  And three more biscuits to eat.

However, the problem remains that Guy loves gravy with his biscuits, and I, raised fully and utterly in Georgia, have never had gravy pass my lips on a perfectly good biscuit.  It's sacrilege, says Miss Kitty and I.  Amongst my friends and coworkers, the biscuits + jam/butter/honey versus biscuits + gravy camps are evenly divided.  Kellye likes biscuits and gravy, while his wife (from the same part of St. Louis as Kellye) prefers biscuits and jam/butter/honey.  Norman would take either, and Elliot nearly fell out of his chair at the thought that Guy would snub my biscuits just because they lacked gravy.  Derek was part of the jam/butter/honey camp, but he would enjoy gravy just as well, no big whoop.  

So, WAD readers, sound off: gravy or jam/butter/honey?  Both?  Neither?  And say where you're from when you weigh in--I want to know if this is geographical, cultural, or an alien invasion that makes people want gravy on a perfectly good biscuit that never did anything bad to them in the first place.

Happy birthday, Daddy.  Your son-in-law is a good man, despite his biscuit ig'nance.


BaxtersMum said...

no no no no no
on the gravy. Gravy is for TURKEY at THANKSGIVING.

yes w/butter and sausage.

but you forgot some cheese grits. My daddy makes KICK ASS cheese grits - complete with just a little bit of garlic.

Anonymous said...

No gravy!!!

Butter of course. Jam if you must. But no gravy!

(Happy birthday to your Dad... wonderful tribute to him)

ms. kitty said...

My mom always made biscuits with bacon or sausage gravy for my dad, who was from Missouri.

I often order the biscuits and gravy special at the Freeland Cafe on Saturday morning but ask the waitress to put the gravy on the side and bring me some jam and butter.

Then I can have both gravy and jam. (Orange marmalade is my favorite. Honey is also fabulous!)

faded said...

I am origanly from Philadelphia (way up north) and we NEVER had gravy on biscuits. Why slime up a perfectly good biscuit with gravy. You need to kick his butt off that gravy train and have him do some serious eatin'.

Also, enjoy celabrating you father's birthday.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Chicago, now live in the Southwest, and I have never had gravy on biscuits. I like butter on biscuits. To be honest, we always attributed eating biscuits and gravy to being a southern thing. But I don't really care for any sort of gravy, it's so sloppy and overwhelming, it just creeps me out a bit.

Xtine said...

The men in my family firmly believe that biscuits are nothing but a vessel with which to move gravy to one's mouth. Matt, from Chicago, fits right in.

I was an adult before I realized that honey, jam, and all sorts of tasties also belong on biscuits. (Hell, I had some REALLY awesome locally-made mixed berry jam served on good biscuits this morning. Oh, it was good. But the pumpkin bread was better)

I am on the fence. Given the choice, I'll pick gravy over jam (but only sausage gravy), but I sure won't turn my nose up at biscuits for lack of gravy.

I'd love to have a batch of my grandmother's biscuits right now.

Syd said...

My mom was born and raised in Tulsa, her mother was from Missouri and her father from either Missouri or Arkansas. So, Southern, but not Deep South-Southern.

On biscuits, we ate butter and sorghum syrup (Waconia brand--mom would stock up on summer vacations in Tulsa), or honey when the sorghum was gone. I don't think I ever saw a biscuit with gravy in the house...but had such a pairing been contemplated, it would have been the cream gravy Mom made to go with her fried chicken: smooth, thick, black-peppery, and featuring as many of the "crunchies" from the fried chicken as weren't snarfed up on their own. It was so good I could, and did, eat it cold by the spoonful.

Damn. I'm hungry.

Wilderness Gina said...

Lord at the comments! Ok, does everyone realize that there are several kinds of gravy?
1. Flour mixed into meat juice. T'sgiv, beef stew.
2. Milk gravy. Just like it says. It's a southern thing made with milk and sausage bits.
3. Red Eye Gravy. Almost Au Jus. It's what's left after lots of country ham has been cooked in a pan. Not much flour if at all and like the name it's RED.
I'm a Yankee, raised in Michigan but with a southern (georgia) father displaced by WWII. I live in Georgia with my southern husband who hates gravy. Gravy is for turkey or stew. Milk gravy is NASTY! Unless your biscuits really really suck. Then it helps kill the taste.

cathryn said...

I'm from northwest Pennsylvania and we rarely had biscuits that I can remember. When we did occasionally have them (usually from KFC! apparently nobody in my family knew how to actually make biscuits), it was never with gravy. Only butter.

Now that I live in Tennessee, I get more biscuits, but still can't abide gravy - unless of course it's chocolate gravy!

Anonymous said...

Har, Ms. Pixie, and you being from Tech.........
Of course it is with gravy and sausage at that!
However, your biscuits did look a tad droopy, and why were they not fluffy and twice as tall like my Grandma's?
You have been out west far too long Lady. I suppose you forgot the grits as well?


Mile High Pixie said...

Thanks to all for commenting! Anonymous: Remember, I'm baking at altitude, a frustrating exercise at best. It took me 5 years to even bake edible biscuits. I can assure you that they tasted excellent. As for the grits, there's two issues there: one, my husband barely tolerates biscuits and grits, so I can only cook one at a time if I'm going to get him to eat anything; and two, there's only two of us at the house, so biscuits + eggs + ham = a pretty big meal for two people. I erred on the side of not letting much go to waste. I still had three biscuits left over when it was all said and done, and we had those biscuits the next day with my dinner of fried chicken and green beans. w00t!

Miss Kitty said...

Guy is still out of his damn mind. Gravy does NOT belong on biscuits. I'll ask the Colonel what he thinks. [sigh]

Anonymous said...


Being from Philadelphia, I find putting gravy on biscuits a good way to ruin a well-made biscuit. Yet while stationed in Louisiana in the Army, I watched as a number of guys from southern states argued the same point in the mess hall. Here's what I learned from that experience: Never have a gravy/biscuit debate while weapons and ammunition are present.

That said, it seems as if Guy's gravy lust is harmless and makes him happy. It also seems as if Guy is certainly a nice-enough guy. I'm thinking that an alternative would be to locate an establishment in Denver that makes terrific biscuits and gravy, buy him a stinkin' gift certificate, and give it to him for his birthday. With a smile.

Cultural note: In South Philadelphia spaghetti sauce is referred to as "gravy."