2/20/2013: Mom's Home Cookin'...Brown Gravy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I was going through some vintage ads this morning and came across this little gem. I know I have used this stuff in the past but I'm not sure you can still buy it. It brought to mind a story that I simply must share. Some of you may read this title and have visions of delectable dishes emerging as if by magic from your Mother's kitchen. You may remember the smells of fresh baked bread or the vision of a pie just out of the oven cooling on the window sill. Ahhh, such a bucolic memory! I wish it were so for me. I had to learn to cook at a very young age out of sheer desperation. My mother, God rest her soul, was probably the world's worst cook (Well, short of Mr. Virgo's grandmother who boiled the Thanksgiving turkey! Argh!). We didn't have much when we were growing up. We ate from my Grandma's garden to supplement the pound of ground beef that had to feed a family of four. That's no different than a lot of us who were born in the early 50's. But it was what Mom finally DID to that pound of hamburger that drove me to start cooking the family meals when I was in sixth grade.

I'll never forget that hot summer night. Mom worked hard every day and, as all Mom's do, came home at night to cook for her family. Dads did NOT do much, if any, of the cooking in those days. We had some corn, green beans, and potatoes from Grandma's farm. Awesome! And we had that dreaded pound of hamburger. What mystery dish could be created to satisfy the hunger of her family? We had creamed hamburger gravy over toast or biscuits or mashed potatoes...a LOT. The gray, pasty dish may not have been visually appealing, but it was filling and cheap which was the primary goal. I guess Mom had been reading her Ladies' Magazines and had it in her head that she wanted her creamed hamburger to have a rich, brown admirable ambition. She piddled around in the kitchen, working on her culinary creation while my brother and I watched Captain Cartoon on the new black and white television that had miraculously appeared in our living room. Finally, she was satisfied and called us all to dinner. She was SO proud as she dished up this FABULOUS looking creamed hamburger, the likes of which we had never seen. She sat and anxiously watched our faces as we marveled over the feast before us. And then....we tasted that first bite. I wasn't sure what I had just put in my mouth. I had never tasted anything like it before. It was certainly not a flavor that went with beef. As a matter of fact, at the tender age of 10, I didn't think that taste went with anything. But, what do you do? We were raised in the "children should be seen and not heard" generation and you most certainly were thankful for anything you were given. I looked around the table to see what the response would be and no one said a word. Satisfied that her delicacy was going over well, Mom took her first taste...and spit it clear across the table! I still wasn't going to say a thing. It was Dad who finally ventured the question we were all thinking. "Wanda, just what did you put in here to make it brown?" Mom was dumbstruck and you could see the gears turning as she figured out what went wrong. The magic ingredient? Instant COFFEE!!! The next week I took my first cooking lesson at the community center and Mom got a "much needed break" from kitchen duties. Hmmmmm....I wonder if that was her plan all along?


Yes, you can still get

Yes, you can still get Kitchen Bouquet and my old favorite, Gravy Master.

My mother could not cook much either, she had 4 or 5 dishes she did over and over again. I thought all fish was fish sticks until I was an adult. I started cooking when I was 12, mostly from the Betty Crocker cookbook and a copy of the old Fannie Farmer cookbook I found in my great aunt's attic. I learned many ways to stretch a pound of meat to feed 2 adults and 5 kids.

Thanks for the laugh and the memories!

I'll have to look for this in

I'll have to look for this in the grocery store next time I'm there! Thanks for the tip! <3

Ah, The Strange Pasty Grayness of Hamburger Gravy...

I loved this memory, Ginny, since it brought back so many more of my Mom stretching the food dollar(s) to feed 8 people on a military salary. My Mom was a fabulous cook with some things (rigatoni & meatballs, stuffed peppers, Beef Stroganoff) but I thought all hamburgers were crunchy until I was older. I bet your Mom got a good laugh in Heaven when you wrote this. She was quite a character, but I'm now trying to remember what she brought to the potluck dinners at the YWCA... =^..^=

Yes, indeed...she was a

Yes, indeed...she was a character! I miss her so much. I used to make her laugh till she couldn't catch her breath and what's so cool is my daughters and I do the same thing. I'm wondering if Mom brought was a staple in the later years!

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