LAKE MACBRIDE— Biscuits and gravy is not a balanced meal, but it is very popular around the lake, and at the restaurants in town. Recently, a restaurant developed the dish to stave off its ultimate demise. Biscuits and gravy are popular, but not miraculous. The restaurant closed. Most local restaurants that serve breakfast offer the item on the menu, and people buy it.
While growing up, our mother prepared a variation on biscuits and gravy we called creamed hamburger on toast. Slices of toasted white bread were cut into small squares and placed on a plate. Ground beef was browned in a cast iron skillet, then removed, leaving the drippings. Using flour and milk, she made gravy with the fat in the pan, seasoned with salt and pepper. When the gravy thickened, she added back the meat, stirred and served the mixture on the toast. We didn’t have it often, but enjoyed it when we did. It was a tribute to my father’s southern heritage, and a somewhat exotic, inexpensive meal made with ingredients usually on hand.
In a vegetarian kitchen, there is no meat fat, so our gravies, if made at all, are done so with butter, using the familiar process. It serves. Biscuits are a quick bread, and easy to make, but at home the similar use has been to place a halved biscuit in the bottom of a large bowl and spoon a hearty vegetable soup or stew over it. This is a traditional serving method, one that stretches back in time for multiple millennia. It is much more common in our household than preparing gravy.
Our neighboring town is in a position to develop a vibrant Main Street with the recent interest in local food combined with a proliferation of eateries. While biscuits and gravy is far from haute cuisine, competitive offerings of the dish make a case that a local food scene is alive and growing. That can only be good for those of us who live nearby.
While locals enjoy biscuits and gravy, will outsiders, whose business is needed to supplement local purchases, make the trip for such items? It’s an open question. An answer lies in restaurants serving good food, something which the competition for business will hopefully provide for those who dine out on a Sunday drive, or during a motorcycle or bicycle rally.
One would like to support local businesses, but can only eat so much biscuits and gravy. Here’s hoping the word gets out about our growing food scene in town. In the meanwhile, for those who do most of their cooking at home, here’s a simple biscuit recipe that is easy and quite tasty.
Whole Wheat Biscuits
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt, mixing thoroughly. Cut the butter into tiny bits and mix into the flour mixture until the texture is coarse. Pour in the milk and mix the dough until it comes together. Knead it 8 to 10 times and turn it out on a floured surface. Flatten the dough to 3/4 inch thickness and cut biscuits into single serving sizes. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes about eight servings.