The joy of cooking the family dinner every holiday now rested with me, yet, for some reason; I could not cook gravy with an audience.
By the second holiday, as I cooked the gravy, my brother-in-law, Caleb, the gravy connoisseur of the family, hovered over my shoulder shouting instructions over the general family din.
Elbowing in he said, “Fannie, it’s all wrong you should be using: arrowroot, or corn starch or flour. You ruined the gravy and in grand Cranium tradition no holiday meal can ever be served without gravy.”
The next holiday, Caleb’s wife, Annabelle, snuck store-bought gravy in while Richard distracted him.
The writing all over my face read like a reader board, “Fannie can’t cook gravy to save her life.”
Soon after it affected our vacation to Canada. My fear, Canadian Customs might notice and not let me cross the border because I was The Dreaded Gravy Butcher, the culinary mass murderer of a national favorite.
The Canadians use gravy like we use ketchup. No more Poutine for me, I ordered my French fries using cheese curds without the gravy. With Memorial Day fast approaching, I must find some way to overcome this insurmountable obstacle built up in my little pea brain.
A few days later Richard left town on a business trip. Sometimes the simple pleasures in life are the sweetest. I controlled the television remote. My head swollen with power, no SPIKE TV, no SyFi Channel and ESPN earned a well deserved break. I could choose any station I wanted and today I craved PBS. The forbidden pleasure savored and enjoyed uninterrupted.
I stumbled across “America’s Test Kitchen” and one of their topics in the episode included GRAVY!!!!! Glued to the television as though manna from heaven, I ignored the telephone for a full thirty minutes, no small feat in our household.
Christopher Kimball, the host, assured us this was foolproof gravy and I watched mesmerized as they produced the most flavorful gravy I ever beheld.
This tantalizing condiment required a food processor. Well I own one of those, Richard purchased one for me the previous Christmas.
The gravy required a trifecta of root vegetables, pulsed, then cooked down with enough butter to make Paula Deen happy, followed by a shot in the arm of unbleached flour, one of Caleb’s litany of thickeners.
After the fond formed, simple beef and chicken broth finished off this straight forward dish. Simmer for 25 minutes and skim the fat. When made in advance, frozen into convenient serving sizes and defrosted in the nick of time.
Dinner was saved!
Approximately 34 seconds after the program ended I downloaded this recipe of wonder.
All of the ingredients manifested themselves in the fridge or on the shelf. The lust for gravy consumed me, I destroyed my pristine kitchen with flour and dirtied every cooking instrument within my reach.
Within 45 minutes, the gravy complete, my kitchen restored to its former glory and frozen French fries thawing in the oven for a test run. I froze the left over gravy in my muffin tins then transferred my masterpieces to freezer bags.
When Richard called in, I explained in intricate detail the deconstruction of the gravy. He needed life support by the end of the conversation.
I was a driven woman; no really, I could now be driven across the border without fear or shame of being detained by Canadian Customs.
No more of Annabelle’s store bought gravy for us. Wallowing in my success; confident I mastered gravy without any hullabaloo for the next holiday.
There is just one last thing, with my gravy fears behind me, I am ready to say, “Okay Caleb bring it on, do your worst, because this holiday we will have the best damn gravy you’ve ever tasted, or my name isn’t Fannie Cranium!”
Besides without the gravy, cheese curds make my teeth squeak.