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Friday, August 9, 2013

Let's Meet Danelle: Her Farm, Her Kids, Her Gravy

I am Danelle, mother and farmer at the Stamps Family Farm. I write about my family's adventures in sustainable farming, special needs parenting, and learning to cook over at My Total Perspective Vortex.
 In 2009 we moved to a 40 acre farm in Southern Iowa with no experience and a BIG dream! Our blog is the story of how that happened and how we live our way through it and all the blessings that have happened along the way.  We now have a llama, Icelandic sheep, pigs, a cow or two, ducks, chickens, peafowl, cats, dogs, a parrot, and a corn snake.....oh and thousands of bees! SO MANY BEES.

In 2009, Chad and I had been married exactly 10 years. In those 10 years I tried to learn how to cook, mostly failing, often with the local fire department knowing that I burned dinner before I did, and a couple of ER docs who had a file on me. I wish I was kidding. I was that bad. I could manage to make edible food if I followed a Cook's Illustrated recipe exactly and stood there watching intensely the entire time. Most of the time that worked. Then we had children and that kind of attention while cooking went screeching through the house refusing to wear her shoes or share her toys.

When we moved to the farm though, something magical happened. I unpacked my grandmother's cast iron skillet, bought a meat thermometer, and set out to really learn how to cook. That skillet made all the difference. I learned how to season it, how to care for it, and how to make amazing breakfast food. Specifically, biscuits and gravy. Oh my.

Gravy is easy.

No. Really it is.

Oh, I know those of you unbelievers are shaking your heads now and thinking about just grabbing a jar or packet of gravy from the grocer.


Gravy is just a roux base. I know, the term roux is fancy sounding and scary.

So, to start, the gravy I make for chicken fried steak is the same sausage gravy I use for biscuits and gravy. The exact same. 
Homemade Gravy {for biscuits, chicken fried steak, etc.}
1 lb ground sausage
1  Portabella mushroom
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 cup chicken broth/stock
1 cup milk
2 T sour cream
1 T seasoned salt w pinch of cayenne

Start with a good ground sausage. Pastured pigs make the best sausage. I have used green onion, breakfast, or Italian sausage- they all work. I like the breakfast blend the best though. Fry it up brown. When it is half done, add chopped mushrooms. Brown until cooked and crumbly. Add butter. Once the butter melts add the flour and sprinkle it all over everything. Stir fast. Be ready with the broth. Once all the flour is wet with the grease and butter, add the chicken broth and stir furiously. It will thicken quick, add the milk when it thickens, stir furiously and turn the heat to low/medium. Add the sour cream and seasoning to taste. Turn the heat off entirely once it is as thick as you like.

See? Easy. 

Once I got gravy mastered, I had the confidence to make biscuits from scratch. I learned how to fry eggs to perfection. Bacon is a learnable art. I even started messing with recipes to make them my own and at least for breakfast, I don't need to have recipe in one hand spoon in the other.

I do, however, always need my skillet.
A huge thanks to Danelle for guest posting for me this week.  I literally just stumbled onto her blog within this past month while researching other Iowa food bloggers. {We've got a great group!}  I hope to meet her within the year when we all meet-up!

Would you like to comment?

  1. Thank you for this sweet reminder that we all started somewhere, at a grandma's side or on our own, then likely had to relearn everything after having children of our own. Cooking when single is a whole other experiance then cooking with and for children!

  2. I've never liked biscuits and gravy, ever, but my husband often mentions that HE does. I've previously ignored him- there's 5 of us in this family, so if it's not something we're all interested in eating, why bother? I didn't realize just how easy gravy could be. And wouldn't you know it's his birthday this upcoming Monday! I'm thinking surprising him with this dish is in order.

  3. What a great quick recipe!

  4. I love biscuits and gravy - wish my waist could handle it more often! Great guest post! :D

  5. Laurie Parker BenefielAugust 9, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    sounds delicious (except I don't care for mushrooms), may have to try this with turkey sausage!

  6. Biscuits and gravy sounds soooooo good!