Home cooking Mother or Grandmother might have loved: Dried Beef Gravy

What’s for Dinner? Blogger Marian Beaman Serves Up “Pennsylvania Dutch” Dried Beef Gravy

 

Reposted from “Plain and Fancy” Blog (

“Just two generations ago, preparing meals was as much a part of life as eating,” so says Mark Bittman in an article entitled How to Eat Now published in the October 20, 2014 issue of TIME magazine. Although a recent Harris poll reveals that 79% of Americans say they enjoy cooking, probably most get at least a third of their daily calories outside the home. Bittman goes on to show how easy it is to get a nutritious home-cooked meal on the table and includes 3 simple recipes: Vegetable soup which borrows from the freezer aisle, a whole roast chicken with garlic and lemons, and skillet pear crisp recipe which makes for easy cleanup.

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My mother cooked two main meals every day. I could count on the fingers of one hand the times we ate in a restaurant. Her recipes were hearty, reflective of the Pennsylvania Dutch cooking she grew up with, never skimping on the butter.

When I came back from Pennsylvania a few weeks ago, I brought on the plane frozen ham loaf and chipped beef. After the ham loaf is thawed, it’s a cinch to pop it into the oven and serve in a few hours with virtually no prep time.

Preparing chipped beef gravy though, while not enormously time consuming, does require assembling ingredients: dried/chipped beef, butter, flour, milk or cream, and a touch of pepper and then stirring in a skillet on the stove.

Last Wednesday, I pulled out my trusty Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter, a book of 1100 favorite recipes gleaned from Mennonite families all over the United States and Canada. Usually, I use Mother’s recipe in my head and knowing the ingredients for what she called dried beef gravy, I add a hunk of this and two cups of that: “just what you think” as she used to say. This time though I will follow the cookbook’s recipe for creamed dried beef, which I see browns the beef with the butter.

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RecipeDriedBeef

Next I assemble all of the ingredients and fire up the stove, beginning with melting butter in a hot skillet.

butterMelt

Adding the dried beef to the melted butter sends a hearty aroma throughout the kitchen. Then, sprinkling flour over the butter and beef, I create a roux to which I slowly add milk. Depending on your sensitivity to calories, you could use water, milk, or cream. I always use milk. Keep on stirring until the mixture becomes smooth and thick.

Dried Beef+ButterFlourStir

Finally, your creamed dried beef, which Mother always referred to as dried beef gravy, is ready to serve over toast, over mashed potatoes, as you wish.

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Typical Menu

Dried Beef Gravy over Mashed Potatoes

Garden peas

Applesauce

Mark Bittman would probably raise his eyebrows over the amount of butter and flour in the creamed dried beef recipe. And of course this menu is heartier than his lower calorie menu of vegetable soup, roast chicken with pear crisp but, oh, is it delicious!

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For years I thought of creamed dried beef as a Pennsylvania Dutch dish. After all, it appeared on page 58 of the Mennonite Cookbook, 1972 edition. Recently, my sister-in-law Terry told me her mother made the same recipe when she was growing up in California.

How about you? Did you enjoy creamed dried beef (or a variation) growing up? Is this recipe part of your cooking repertoire now?

Inquiring cooks want to know. . . 

Pig Stomach and Easter Eggs: A Guest Blog Post from Marian Beaman

This week, we have the honor of sharing a post by Marian Beaman. All images and content belong to Marian and can be found in her original March 6, 2013 post on her blog, Plain and Fancy.

My Mother loved her kitchen with a spiritual passion and was happiest at the altar of her stove, cooking or baking. We’d hear her off-key voice singing “Heavenly Sunlight” or “Keep on the Sunny Side” as she fixed breakfast while we dressed and braided our hair for school.

Her mother, Sadie Landis Metzler, died when she was nine, so Ruth, the oldest daughter of six, was the mini-mom milking cows and peeling potatoes before she went to school. Later, she was hired out to help another farm wife, who taught her to cook, instilling a love for fresh or home-canned ingredients with PA Dutch recipes.

Mom and Pig’s Stomach

These days when I fly home from Florida, we make a feast of her famous homemade soups (vegetable & chicken corn) and other dishes, including pig stomach. It sounds horrible, like goose liver or pickled pig’s feet, but it’s considered a delicacy at her house.

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There are other names for this dish: hog maw, Dutch goose—but pig stomach is the name we grew up with. Basically, a nicely rinsed stomach from a pig is stuffed with a pound of sausage, 8 large diced potatoes, some onion, and sprigs of parsley cut up in tiny pieces, then all ingredients oven-roasted.

MomPigStomach     MarkPigStomach

Mom’s stand-by side dish is peas & carrots for color, celery in season, and something fruity for dessert like her gelatin fruit salad, a recipe passed around among the relatives.

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Her Salmon Casserole is also a favorite at her table. There are variations of this recipe in Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter. Scottdale, PA: The Mennonite Community Association, 1972 (16th printing). My Mom’s own recipe is quick and hearty.

 

2010_Mother Longenecker_Baking Salmon Loaf_6x4_300Salmon Casserole: Ingredients:

1 can red salmon

1 pack or more of saltine crackers, crumbled

butter, 3 – 4 pats

Snipple up (break into small pieces) salmon from the can. Place a layer of crushed cracker crumbs on the bottom of a greased 2-3 quart casserole. Alternate layers of salmon with crumbled crackers, adding a little salt and pepper as you go. “Top off with a few hunks of butter,” she says.

Chocolate-covered  Eggs: Peanut Butter and Coconut, a treat every Easter in the 50s

Peanut Butter Eggs

1 lb. butter + 2 lbs. peanut butter  + 3 lbs. 10x sugar  Mix ingredients together and form into egg shapes, about 1 1/2 inches diameter.

Coconut Cream Eggs

1/4 lb. butter + 8 oz. cream cheese + 2 lbs.10x sugar + coconut to taste (8 oz. bag) Follow instructions above.

Coating: l lb. of semi-sweet chocolate melted. Mother would melt a pound of semi-sweet chocolate by sinking a cup of chocolate into a pan of boiling water; you may want to use something more up-to-date like a double boiler for the melting process. As the chocolate melted, she shredded in some paraffin for a glossy finish to the coating.

Mom made the candies by resting each egg on a fork, dipping it into the chocolate, and then using a knife to scrape the drippy chocolate off the bottom of the egg. Pure heaven!

What family favorites do you associate with a particular holiday? How have you adapted the recipes to your own table?

 © Marian Beaman

Be sure to check out the rest of Marian’s wonderful posts at her blog.