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Biscuits ‘N Gravy

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I know what you might be thinking.

“Who has time to make biscuits and gravy in the morning?”

But hear me out… think about making this for supper. It’s cold, it’s dark and you want something without a lot of fuss. Biscuits and gravy make the perfect low-fuss, cold-weather meal. Trust me. Also? It’s cheap (ahem… frugal). You probably have all of this in your pantry right now.

 

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Start with 5 cups of SIFTED flour. It’s important that you sift the flour first or the biscuits will be too heavy.

Then add 1 tsp of salt and 1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder to the flour. Mix well.

 

 

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Mix in 1/4 cup of very, very cold lard. You can use butter, I guess but lard gives pastry this unmistakable flaky texture that can’t be duplicated.  Use your hands to work the lard into the flour. You want some of it to be coarse like meal but to also have larger chunks (like 1/4 inch in size) floating around in there.

 

 

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Next… 1 1/4 cup of milk. Most recipes call for buttermilk but I never keep it on hand. I think you can make it with regular milk and maybe… lemon juice? I don’t know – I just use plain ol’ milk. Stir just until it’s almost cohesive. Don’t overmix or the biscuits will be tough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and very gently knead 4-6 times. GENTLY! Then roll out to about a 1/2 inch thickness with a rolling pin. If you don’t have a rolling pin, patting it out will do.

Then here is where the “tricks” begin…

 

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Using a fork, poke holes all in the dough (going all the way through). Mine are a little far apart – you want them about 1/2 an inch apart.

 

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Using a biscuit cutter, a glass or a mason jar lid cut out the biscuit rounds. But don’t don’t don’t TWIST the cutter. This seals the dough and prevents it from rising. I didn’t always know this and I had some sorry lookin’ biscuits to show for it. Third tip – place the biscuits on the pan so that they juuussstt touch.

Don’t reroll the extra dough – just place it on the pan. The kids will like the shapes and you (for once since becoming a parent) will get to eat the nice, round, perfect biscuits instead of the stuff that turns out imperfect.

These will go into a 500 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes.

Let’s get started on the gravy. Mmmm… gravvvvyyyyy.

 

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This is my best friend in the kitchen. I can do without fancy kitchen gadgets (I prefer to be without those, actually) or the latest in stainless steel but I gots to have my bacon grease.

Pour some of this into a skillet… about enough to cover the bottom of the pan – more if you have a big family.

 

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Get it hot using medium heat. Bacon grease has a high smoking point so don’t be afraid to get it really hot.

 

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Next, throw in some flour. Use enough to cover all the bacon fat… start slow and keep adding. You can always add more but you can’t take it out, ya know! Stir it all around using a fork, a whisk, a metal spatula or whatever you like. Get all the lumps out of the flour.

Don’t leave it alone…. keep stirring it until it’s nice and brown like this:

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Turn the heat down to low and add milk. You don’t want to scald the poor milk, for heaven’s sake.

 

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Keep stirring until the milk heats up and you have no more lumps. Only add enough milk to get nice, thick gravy like this. Pour a little at a time until it’s just like you want it.

 

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In the meantime, your biscuits are golden brown and flaky. LOOK at those flakes, would ya! Feel free to devour one with butter.

 

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I like to break the biscuits apart and pour the gravy over. Yummmm.

 

To really make this a meal, add some browned sausage to the gravy and serve it all with a side of scrambled eggs.

I just love breakfast for supper, don’t you?

January 13, 2009 - 4:16 pm

Barbara - Had breakfast for supper last night! I do love it-especially when it’s cold outside!! Yours looks so delicious!

January 13, 2009 - 4:25 pm

Judi in Pa - Um, um, um…Jennifer, will you marry me?

January 13, 2009 - 5:14 pm

RazorFamilyFarms.com - Oh yum! I LOVE it! This timeless classic is one delicious rib-sticking meal. Lovely photos and great tutorial!

Love it! I also love that you use so much venison. We do too! We had venison beef enchiladas just last night!

Blessings!
Lacy

January 13, 2009 - 5:14 pm

RazorFamilyFarms.com - I meant to say instead of beef. Not sure what happened.

January 13, 2009 - 5:32 pm

CrossView - I popped over from Lacy’s when you mentioned biscuits. ;o)

Thanks for the tutorial. LOL! I’ve found two things I’d been doing wrong. And now I just may try again. Though Grands may be saddened by that news….

January 13, 2009 - 5:39 pm

thecottonwife - Let me know how they turn out, Crossview!

January 13, 2009 - 7:35 pm

Jensamom - I love breakfast for dinner in the cold, dark days of winter. This looks yummy!

January 13, 2009 - 8:35 pm

St. Fairsted Farm - Biscuits & Gravy are one of my favorites. The only problem I have with them they seem to stick to my thighs…LOL

January 13, 2009 - 9:48 pm

Carin - Mmmmmm I’m coming over to your place for dinner. Yes, I love breakfast for dinner!

January 13, 2009 - 9:57 pm

thecottonwife - It’s the hips over here, St. Fairsted! I can’t blame those on pregnancy, unfortunately. :(

- Jennifer

January 14, 2009 - 12:44 am

Matriarchy - Drooling on the keyboard here. I swore to learn to make biscuits this year. So far, I only made drop biscuits, which came out pretty good, but I fear the rolled out ones. But I want them so much! I have the lard standing by, and a bag of White Lily flour. My DD15 is an expert gravymaker. I am going to the PA Farm Show tomorrow, and when I get back, I am makin’ biscuits for dinner!

January 14, 2009 - 2:05 am

Blondie - Oh man I’ve been missing out! I’ve never had biscuits and gravy in my life!

I guess that’s what happens when you grow up in the big city!

I do like breakfast for supper though! For me that would be a Veggie Omelet and a couple strips of bacon. YUM!

January 14, 2009 - 2:12 am

Karen - We had french toast tonight. I too, love breakfast for dinner. I have never had a true homemade biscuits. I think it is time to try. :) Thanks for the how to.

January 14, 2009 - 8:39 am

Kath - My boys love biscuits and gravy! So I make it for dinner once in a great while. We like it with green beans.

January 14, 2009 - 8:57 am

kat - Every morning my Nanny would get up and make lard biscuits. Nothing like ‘em with cheese (real wheel cheddar) eggs. By the afternoon we could play baseball with the cold biscuits! You are truly a southern cook. Good thing CH works hard on the farm with all that good, fattening stuff you make.

January 14, 2009 - 2:01 pm

Linda - New to blogging, the biscuits and gravy also brought me to yours. Love it BTW. I do have one simple, maybe lame, but important question….the whole bacon grease thing, how long does that stay good, do you keep it in the fridge. I know my mother always had grease in a cute little silver tin thing with a strainer on top. I actually found one at a flea market and thought that was just the greatest thing, but have never used it. I am the worse cook ever and I love the pictures to lead me.
My family might just be impressed since I do gravy from a packet.
Thanks

January 14, 2009 - 2:41 pm

thecottonwife - A lot of people (especially younger people) keep bacon grease in the fridge but I keep mine on the stovetop… so far so good! It gets used up regularly though, so there’s always fresh grease there. Hope that helps! (And it was NOT a lame question!!)

I’m jealous of your tin – wish I had one!

- Jennifer

January 14, 2009 - 3:16 pm

Shirley - We make our biscuits and gravy the same way. I love when the roux browns. It gives the gravy such a nice flavor.

I don’t poke my biscuits with the fork. What is the reason, or is it just something you always do? I agree the lard makes them much more flaky and sifting the flour is very important.

And for some reason, I just really love cooking breakfast. Doesn’t really matter what time of the day.

When I hosted Conasta last time, I served breakfast.

January 14, 2009 - 3:30 pm

thecottonwife - Hmmm, Shirley. I thought I recalled reading the reason once upon a time, but now I can’t find it.

We play Conasta at the beach all the time!

- Jennifer

January 14, 2009 - 5:42 pm

Christy - o.k…I’m really hungry now!! I LOVE breakfast for supper!! I’ve never sifted my flour…maybe that’s my problem!! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial!! ;)

January 15, 2009 - 11:54 am

Kristi Smith - No fuss??? HA! To me, that is a lot of fuss. ;)

They look yum though. It is Grands for me. I tried making PW’s cinnamon rolls and they didn’t turn out that good. I hate wasting the effort when something doesn’t turn out good.

I will just enjoy looking at yours.

January 16, 2009 - 11:00 am

ellie K - My parents lived on a farm with plenty of fresh milk and bacon grease on hand. When my daughter was 8 or 9 my Mother started teaching her to make gravy by browning flour and adding the nice fresh milk to make sometimes lumpy and somtimes very good gravy. My Mother had a large cast iron skillet that they used and it made way too much gravy for 3 people to eat. They would sometimes make it 2 or 3 times a day. The farm dogs loved my daughters visits and the nice warm gravy over there meals. My daughter is 39 now and still remembers the great memory my Mother created for her. My Mother has been gone for 20 years but her gravy lives on. We still love our gravy and biscuits.

January 16, 2009 - 11:29 am

thecottonwife - That’s such a great story, Ellie K. Some of my favorite memories are related to food and learning how to cook. with my babysitter, my grandmas and of course, my mom. Thanks so much for sharing that!

- Jennifer

January 17, 2009 - 5:43 pm

Dana - I usually get my breakfast from the Bowmanstown Diner, a couple of miles away from the plant. All I have to do is cal and say, “I’m starving,” and they know what to fix: two eggs lookin’ at me, bacon, home fries, buttered rye toast and OJ.

Well, one day I decided to mix it up, and order biscuits and gravy — and they told they didn’t serve such a thing!

Damned Yankees!

January 17, 2009 - 5:55 pm

thecottonwife - Well, I declare (stretch “declare” out to at least four syllables)!!

January 17, 2009 - 6:50 pm

Common Sense Political Thought » Blog Archive » Some weekend linkage - [...] most importantly, Jennifer has the recipe for Biscuits ‘n’ gravy! Category: Blogging Matters  |  Comment (RSS) [...]

February 22, 2009 - 1:15 am

Saucy Sunday - Breakfast « Twisted Fencepost - [...] For another tutorial on how to make biscuits, check out The Cotton Wife’s instructions. [...]

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Indian Island

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My oldest is studying about Native Americans in her second-grade Social Studies class. Despite previously being a teacher and therefor now being deathly allergic to the phrase “teachable moment”, I took the girls back to a spot behind the farm called Indian Island.

 

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Indian Island lies on the Blackwater River. According to the history books, Native Americans were forced to various spots along the river around 1646 after two years of fighting between the Virginia Colony and the Powatan Confederation.

 

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It’s also a great place for little girls to show off stereotypes that they learn on television.

 

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We sat by the swamp for a while (I recommend visiting Indian Island ONLY in the dead of winter. Any other time and the mayflies and mosquitoes will eat you up.), played around for a while and then looked for arrowheads (we found a few) and other artifacts.

 

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The girls don’t give much thought to living in a place where history is so accessible but I happen to think it’s pretty darned cool.

What kind of history exists where you live? Do you ever explore your local history?

January 11, 2009 - 7:50 pm

Okie Sister - Hi, I discovered your blog today and I’m really enjoying reading it.

I live in Oklahoma, former Indian Territory. It is extremely rich with Native American culture and traditions. The name Okahoma comes from Choctaw and means “red people.”

January 11, 2009 - 8:51 pm

thecottonwife - Thanks, Okie Sister! I’m going to pass this along to Shelby… she’ll enjoy sharing that with her class. :)

- Jennifer

January 11, 2009 - 11:08 pm

Karen - Your baby is growing up so fast. Good thing there is more where that came from. :)

I live in Utah which also rich in Native American history. Utah means “top of the mountain” in the Ute language. The Utes are one of the many tribes that lived in this area. My Great-grandma use to tell us stories of an Indian woman with a new born that would come to the house in the winter to trade goods with her mother. My Great-grandma loved the little Native American baby so much, she tried to talk her mom into “stealing” the baby. (She was somehow under the impression as a small girl that this woman could not possibly love her baby as much as she did.) My Great-grandma has been gone for many years now, but her love for the Native American people lives on in the stories she told us.

We recently also made a trip to Promontory Point with our kids where the Railroad from the East met the Railroad from the West. I love taking my kids to places so full of history.

January 12, 2009 - 1:08 am

cheesychick - I love the photo of the boots…Awesome! I’m going to try that one with my girl, if you don’t mind me copying off you. Cotton wife…you are my idol and I’m starting to feel like a stalker!
Plenty of history here in PA. My daddy found indian bowls and tons of arrow heads when he plowed up some of our fields. He wasn’t into history so he gave them away. I could clomber that old boy, if I didn’t love him so

January 12, 2009 - 10:27 am

thecottonwife - He GAVE them away!?! Noooo!

January 12, 2009 - 2:40 pm

Shirley - Here in NE Arkansas, we had Indian mounds along the St. Francis River. They have long since been excavatied and all the artifacts carried off to the local college museum and private collectors. The mounds can barely be distinguished, but if you know where to look you can still see them.

We also have an area over in the river called Hatchiecoon Island. It is supposed to be named after an Indian that lived there.

January 12, 2009 - 6:20 pm

Rhea - I can’t get past the adorable photos of your Peanut. She’s SOOOOOO cute.

And I love your Indian Island. So cool. History rocks.

January 12, 2009 - 10:45 pm

kat - Sounds like the Native Americans were the “first” in so many places. As a former homeschool mom I love reading all of this. Living here in Virginia we tend to take for granted all of the rich heritage and history at our doorstep. What a shame so much of the Indian history is overlooked – we owe them much.

January 13, 2009 - 10:34 am

ellie k - I love seeing your girls outside. A lot of todays kids do not know the joy of nature and just playing outside. My kids are grown but they played outside winter and summer, in sunshine, rain and snow and loved every minute of it. Some of Our children have lost the art of entertaining themselves and making up new games to play.

January 13, 2009 - 10:46 am

thecottonwife - Ellie, I love listening to them as they play outside (I try to stay out of sight and not “hover” as so many parents do these days) and make up games and stories. Sometimes they play house, sometimes the “old west” and sometimes – this is my favorite – they pretend to be our neighbors and friends. Some of their impersonations are right-on!

As long as they can hear me when I holler, then they’re free to roam as they please!

- Jennifer

January 13, 2009 - 11:48 am

Kath - We enjoy going on adventure hunts! But dont do it often enough.

About 40 miles from us is where Jesse James almost jumped to his death…but he made it!! And got away from the law once again. Also we are told a house not too far from school is where he hid out for weeks to wait out the law again.

January 13, 2009 - 11:58 am

thecottonwife - Jesse James! How exciting!!

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A Friday Message From The Cotton Husband

Keith wants to wish everyone a Happy Friday and say that yes, sometimes he is caught with his mouth closed(not often) and that he does own other shirts besides his favorite blue flannel.

keith

Have a great weekend everyone!

January 9, 2009 - 7:09 pm

Dana - Dear Keith:

A couple of posts ago, your lovely wife said:

Also, I’d really prefer this be snow. See what you can do about that, please.

Allow me to tell her that our forecast is:

Partly cloudy skies this evening. A few snow showers developing late. Low 23F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 40%.

Cloudy with snow Saturday. High 27F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph. 2 to 4 inches of snow expected.

Snow likely Saturday night. Low 26F. Winds NE at 10 to 15 mph. 4 to 6 inches of snow expected.

Yes, I do have an extra shovel for her! :) C’mon up!

January 9, 2009 - 8:20 pm

Kath - He does? He really has more than one shirt? My husband wears his two favorites every time we leave the house so he gets chased back upstairs like the kids to please wear something different once! Of course one of his favorites I dont care for other than it washes well. Guess what? Its plaid too!!

January 10, 2009 - 12:49 am

kat - Looks like the hat is a favorite too!! I know all about those farmers and their favorites. Dirt? Grease? It’s just fine!!

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