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Jailhouse Gravy and Snake Cakes

by dub W  
7/01/2007 / Cooking

This morning I made jailhouse gravy and toast for my grandkids' breakfast. No, we aren't so poor we can't afford a real meal, but I was just hungry for some pan food, and thought they might enjoy it too. Well, I was partly correct. One of them loved it, the other one turned up her nose.

Jailhouse gravy comes from an old cowboy tradition of a prisoner taking a little animal fat, some flour, and his coffee cream, or goat's milk, then combining the ingredients in a mason jar and shaking until the mixture got muddy. If he had a piece of jerky or similar he might add it to the combination. My version was a little less rustic.

We were short on anything to make grease other than lunch meat. So, I chopped up a piece of ham, added it to vegetable oil and butter, followed by flour and presto I had a roux. For the non cooks, a roux, pronounced 'roo', is basically hot oil and flour.

Next, I poured in milk and started stirring. Minutes later I had my version of jailhouse gravy albeit only popular in part of the household. I poured the mixture over toast and there I had a hobo breakfast treat. After fixing a separate breakfast for my granddaughter I retreated to my bedroom for Bible study.

Jacob asked for tasty food before he died (Gen. 27:4 KJV); the Lord spoke to Samuel and told him, "And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers" (1 Sam. 8:13 KJV). Admittedly, the confectionaries of Samuel's day were more of perfumers than candy makers. All in all, we know that cooking is honorable in God's view, at least in the limited words we are allowed to interpret.

So, what does God have to do with gravy on toast? Absolutely nothing if a person tries to find jailhouse gravy in the Holy text; but, absolutely everything if that same person applies the act of Christian love when preparing the meal.

My grandmother weighed nearly 300 pounds. But, she rarely sat at the dinner table. Though nearly deaf and blind, she managed to cook for farm workers and family every day, but she did it by taste, and always with a song and prayer on her lips. Often other female members of the family would join her in this joyous reunion. The food was magical - main courses, pies and cakes, and ice cold sweet tea. Breakfasts were celebrations of morning. With a bucket of lard sitting on the stove she made biscuits and breads and always plenty of gravy. If she had cooked for Jacob he might have refused to die.

Today's contrast is, of course, fast food. The doctors blasted my grandmother's cooking as unhealthy; but, what are the franchises doing to us? Even diet plan after diet plan has been found to be a silent killer.

Here is my opinion most of my family, one generation up, lived to be in their 80s and 90s, eating my grandmother's cooking. One difference everyone worked hard; the other difference my grandmother was driven by the Lord. She taught me how to cook, lessons I will never forget, especially the part that says, "start with a prayer."

My babysitting duties are nearly over, tomorrow I return to my own home; however, tomorrow morning I am making snake cakes for breakfast. The grandkids love'm. Funny what a little food coloring in the pancake batter will do; chocolate chips for eyes. My daughter-n-law will probably frown, at least until I put a snake cake or two on her plate. Oh, I make my pancakes from flour, baking powder, and butter, I like the flavor better than a box mix and definitely better than the frozen pancakes my daughter-n-law keeps in the freezer.

No jailhouse gravy tomorrow, only made from scratch snake cakes. Nobody will know, and although the kids will say their prayers at the table, the Lord and I will have already had a morning chat. Thanks grandma.

"dub" is a freelance Christian writer, best known for his straight forward approach to common issues. His 38 year professional writing career gives him keen insight into successful reporting. To contact dub email [email protected]

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