Saturday, May 12, 2007

A little something about my mother

When I was 13 or 14 (or maybe 15) I had a difficult moment in life. I was away at school (boarding school, about 8 hours drive south of our village) and I had weird dorm parents. They were constantly questioning my faith, my attitude (come on, I was 13 or 14 or maybe 15) and being borderline inappropriate (like coming down the hall unannounced, not cool if you're a man in a dorm full of young girls). I don't know who contacted my parents or how exactly it came about, life being a fog of unpleasantness at that point, but my mother showed up one day and took me off campus to the Mission Guest House down the road and provided some much needed tlc. I seem to remember reading, in a fabulous moment of self indulgence, some wretchedly written Grace Livingston Hill novel late into the night AND, most importantly, my mother cooking Easy Hamburger Gravy with Mushrooms and Noodles (see below). After weeks and weeks of disgusting dining hall fare, this rich emulsions of cream, hamburger, and mushrooms was balm on my wounded spirit.

I make this sauce periodically, when the moment seems good. I think of it as so special and important. Last time my mother was here, assisting, as it were, with the arrival of baby #3, I was madly thawing hamburger in a pan and boiling noodles, and my mother said, 'oh, Grandma's Easy Hamburger Gravy. It is best when you thaw the hamburger in the pan.' Turns out there are Landers (my mother is a Lander, oldest of 8 Lander children) all over the world busily thawing hamburger in pans, boiling noodles or cooking rice, throwing stuff in, seeking spiritual closeness to God and self through this important sauce.

So, as a tribute to my Mother, and her Mother, for when the moment seems right and all else is wrong, here is Easy Hamburger Gravy.

1 large chunk frozen hamburger, thawing in the pan
onion, if you feel like it, thrown in over the eventually browned hamburger
garlic, if you feel like it, the same way
mound of mushrooms, thrown in and wilting
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of flour when the juices are flowing, thrown in to bind
large measure of cream (depending on the wound of the soul)
And, if you're me, another large measure of Sherry
Let it all simmer away while the Noodles (or Rice) cook.

You could make a salad, or some kind of vegetable, or you could just put out large bowls and let the noodles and hamburger gravy take you into bliss and comfort.
Happy Mother's Day!


Joyce Carlson said...

It's a thought. I could make hamburger gravy for dinner tonight minus the hamburger, and concentrating on onions and mushrooms, which is what I happen to have. It might be easier on the other half of this family's delicate stomach than Nigella's "involtini" which we made last night. Very delicious it was too, but maybe a bit too dramatic for an anxious digestion -- what with the eggplant done in copious amounts of oil, and the tomato sauce and feta cheese and capers. Hmmm. The cats objected to the eggplant too. They all sat around waiting for delicious crumbs to fall from the table, and were dismayed to find no meat present. It was a recipe from Nigella's "Feast", and wonderful. But my question is, how do you do hamburger gravy without the hamburger. ME

Anne Kennedy said...

Maybe you could try beans instead of hamburger. I've been really craving beans of all kinds. Meat tastes different right now for some reason and I've been majoring on fruit, vegetables and beans. But then I think it would become easy bean gravy and not hamburger gravy. Hmmm.

Joyce Carlson said...

"Easy bean gravy"??? But the problem there is that it does not sound exactly like comfort food. Because, when someone has smashed the car into a tree and you are going to be very poor and living on $50 a week for the next four weeks, beans though probably the ingredient most likely to keep the wolf from the door, are somewhat depressing. One calls to mind Clarence Bunson in one of the Prairie Home episodes, who has accidently added an extra 0 to the $30.00 check which he so carefully drops into the church collection plate, and TOO LATE realizes his mistake. Thus will be eating beans and rice for some time to come. It's like that. NOT COMFORTING.

Anne Kennedy said...

No, but they can actually be very delicious, especially if you're craving them and don't feel like eating anything else (is that odd). Matt made white beans with rosemary and cream and some other spices, over rice and it was really delicous. Of course, the next night he made red beans but puts sausage in, which defeats the point of its being cheep. I'm pretty sure we'd better all learn to like beans because the more kids we have, the poorer we're going to be, and beans will be all we can afford. Sigh.

Rev Dr Mom said...

There are all kinds of good ways to cook beans without any meat. Black beans can be caribbean style or with salsa, you can make vegetarian chili--when I do that I used several kinds of beans. The Moosewood Lowfat Cookbook has some great bean recipes.

I don't think it's weird to crave beans. Beans and rice are a good protein source--maybe that's what your body needs right now.