Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Delicious Life Well Lived

I haven't blogged for a while. My fingers hesitate on the keys. I want to write, I need to write. If I start to form the words, this will all be real and I so wish it wasn't. Last week my beautiful Mother Loretta passed away far too soon and much too young. She is so much of the reason I have a delicious time and why I appreciate wonderful food, and sharing it with others. Her zest for life and all things sparkly were transferred every day with her smile. She would read cookbooks like novels, pour over the Minneapolis/ St. Paul Magazine restaurant section planning her next adventure. Dad didn't always share her desire to check out new restaurants, but he would often find her dressed to the nines on Friday when he got home, knowing if she coyly used the phrase let's just "go out for a cup of soup" he would usually oblige. It always turned out to be much more than soup!

My "cooking lessons" were watching her create magic out of her cast iron skillet and limited tools. Not usually allowed to help, but I always observed and loved to look at the pictures in her 1960's Better Crocker cookbook. This is where she got the recipe for her scratch buttermilk pancakes with the separated egg whites that were lighter than air, sparking my desire for homemade while everyone else was embracing the processed easy box mixes. The jewel of the book to me was the flaming Baked Alaska. I begged for it...never got it until I was married with kids of my own. This turned out to be Grandma's special Christmas Eve gift to all of us. Every year she would make it in the same bowl with rum soaked pound cake and new flavors of premium ice cream. She would flame the masterpiece to our ooohs and aahhs, a treasured tradition. A silver bowl held the berry compote she ladled over the creamy delight. Mom always paid close attention to presentation, teaching me that everything tastes better on a pretty plate or a crystal glass.

Mom was great at making something from nothing and also jazzing up the ordinary to make it gourmet. One of her creations came from her days in boarding school. The food wasn't always the best, but she fondly remembered a simple dish they served in the cafeteria called Egg Gravy. It's basically creamed eggs on toast...doesn't sound too appealing right. Well it's turned into a family favorite loved by all. The condiments make it extra special, you'll love it. My twist is adding some kale as a side...always working the nutrition angle. I'm sure she won't mind.

Loretta's Famous Egg Gravy

Scrambled eggs, in white sauce with crusty oven toast, served with toppings

White Sauce

2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Flour
1 c. milk
Salt and Pepper to taste. I add some garlic too.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir until the butter and flour are well combined. Pour in milk, stirring constantly as it thickens. Add more milk depending on desired consistency.

Scrambled Eggs

8 Eggs
2 Tbsp. water or milk
2 Tbsp. Butter

Heat butter to foaming pour in beaten eggs. Cook until soft curds form

Stir scrambled eggs into the white sauce. Serve over bread of your choice toasted in the oven to give it extra crunchiness. Butter the toast and spoon the "gravy" over the toast. This dish is complete like this, but Mom always had tons of condiments so everyone could customize their own. Here are some favorite topping ideas, but of course use your imagination as well

Shredded Cheddar
Crisp smoked bacon
Sauteed Mushrooms
Sliced Green Olives
**(Sauteed Kale with onions and smoked bacon)

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