Poor House Gravy Train

I hope none of us end up in the poor house. Do poor houses even exist anymore? I don’t think so. I think we replaced those with our welfare system. No more working on the poor farm. No more working on the prison farm. Just the free handouts. It’s a system that I don’t believe can be sustained. We need to learn how to do things in a sustainable way. Whether it’s building from sustainable, renewable products, growing our own food or governing our country, we need to focus on whether we can sustain the ideas that we propose. We need to approach the world as though it were a marathon. Can we sustain this pace? Do we need to make adjustments now so we can make it to the end of the race, or will we drop out before the end?

Shelter, water, and food are essential to life. Shelter is generally provided and often an afterthought in today’s society. People are beginning to think more about it in these last few months. People are beginning to feel threatened. The thought is finally beginning to intrude, “Where will I go if I lose my house?” The old ideas of thrift are beginning to return. So where can we be more thrifty? Where can we cut back and save money?

So back to the poor house food or how we can pinch pennies to stay in our house and out of the poor house. This isn’t going to be about clipping coupons and buying in bulk. There are other people who write about those areas. This is more about a trip down memory lane to the rocky hills of a farm. I’ve written about the brown beans, the lamb’s quarter and poke salad. There are other areas that seem like a luxury now. There were steaks, hamburger, heart and liver. Now days I don’t cook steak often, nor use much red meat. Not because I’m a vegetarian or opposed to red meat, it’s the price of meat plain and simple. It would almost be sacrilege in my family to be a vegetarian, I come from a family that raises beef cattle. It’s not a big operation. There are no feedlots. There are no veal shacks. The pastures aren’t overgrazed (unless it’s a dry year and things get really tight then the grass gets skimpy). There was a steer that was fed up every year for eating. He was sent to the local slaughterhouse (There’s another small town business that’s disappearing) to be packaged and then stored in the huge freezer. Since we weren’t buying the meat in the grocery store it was cheap for us. I doubt I’ll be able to feed my children the way my mother fed me. There will be less meat loaf, little or no steak, and fewer hamburgers.

I read on various blogs and forums about people buying bags of rice. White rice is good. I like white rice but I think it could get old really quick by itself. One of my memories of childhood is tuna gravy over rice. People don't seem to make gravy anymore. With all the weight loss concerns, we've been taught to leave off the gravy. It's fattening and unnecessary. Tuna gravy is just a white sauce/gravy with a can of tuna dumped in for flavor, texture and nutrition. Place a bed of rice on the plate and ladle on the gravy. Right now it's probably not the best thing for your waist. If times get harder, we may all be eating a lot less and have lost a bit of weight, in which case, we'll be looking for a few extra calories.

So let's look at gravy a bit more. There are infinite varieties of gravy. I could do the whole Forest Gump name all the forms of gravy but I'll refrain. I'm fond of white gravy myself. Just look around the pantry and you'll find all sorts of things to either toss in the gravy or to toss the gravy over. If you have a large freezer for food storage, look around for a restaurant supply store. Here on the West Coast of America we have a chain called Cash and Carry. They are open to the public. You'll find there are big bags of crumbled sausage, Canadian bacon, link sausage, all in large packages that cost less per ounce than the small individual packaging you find at the local grocery store. Just look around and imagine things swimming in a creamy white sauce. As long as the electricity holds out to power the freezer, you can have a ready supply of tasty protein to toss into your gravies.

So you've got a tasty gravy, now what? Put something under it and chow down. Got bread? Got bread that doesn't taste quite as fresh as you'd like? Toast it and top it with your gravy. Getting sick of that white rice? Add the tuna or sausage gravy with some salt and pepper. If you're lucky enough to have some hamburger, steak or chicken, bread it and fry it in chicken fried steak fashion and top with plain white gravy. A bit of corn or green beans on the side and you've got a meal.

For those of you who have only made gravy by opening a jar, or mixing water with the ingredients of a package, here are a few tips. I have to admit. I most often end up with lumpy gravy or scorched gravy and various other incarnations of gravy. It comes from doing too many things at once. It doesn't bother me. I like my gravy, lumpy, scorched or otherwise.

Basic Gravy Recipe

4 tablespoons margarine or butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups water, white wine, chicken stock or milk

Melt the butter over low heat, then add the liquid and the flour, stir for 3-4 minutes with a fork or wire whisk. Now that you have a basic sauce or gravy, you can start flavoring it. A pinch of salt, a can of tuna, a handful of sausage or a heavy grinding of black pepper are good starting points. Keep stirring until the gravy reaches the desired thickness.

Next up on the menu....cornbread!


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