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!