So very excited to have special guest Stan Hampton here today to talk about one of my favorite subjects. Food!
Biscuits and gravy
Biscuits and gravy,
Biscuits and gravyyyyy,
Biscuits and gravy!
Yeah! Heh heh heh.
I have to ask you, is there anything more delectable than biscuits and milk gravy? Or sausage gravy? Or bacon gravy?
Well, okay, maybe there is, but I am writing about biscuits and gravy.
My earliest memory of such a culinary delight was a big family gathering when my grandparents and I visited relatives in the far south of Arkansas. I remember a big, warm country kitchen, noisy strangers I did not know, and a table literally groaning under eggs, scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, sausage and, biscuits and gravy.
As an adult I have fond memories of traveling and early morning breakfasts at a nation-wide restaurant chain known for its rustic country appearance complete with a wooden porch and a rocking chair. The interior, before you reach the dining area, is jam packed like an old country store.
But get past the store, and a morning delight of hot coffee, biscuits and gravy, and scrambled eggs and hash browns waits.
As a matter of fact, the last two weeks in the Nevada Army National Guard before my retirement, my fellow Soldiers took me to lunch every other day. And lunch was—you guessed it—biscuits and gravy!
Not to mention, one of my favorite breakfasts to make is—you guessed it!
Okay. Why? I do not know.
Maybe I associate it with that early family gathering on an Arkansas farm. Maybe it is because of the crunchy, flour-like taste of biscuit, and the thick, hot taste of milk gravy, whether flavored with sausage or bacon. And don’t forget the salt and pepper! That adds the final, special snap to this glorious culinary delight.
So how did this wonder begin?
One article claims that the ancestor of today’s biscuit was originally a flat cake twice cooked, thus “bis” (twice) “cuit” (cooked); it was also called “stone bread” during the rule of French king Louis XIV <http://www.foodreference.com/html/a-biscuit-history-1008.html>.
Of course, once the evolving biscuit arrived in America, it became a staple of the Colonial diet, especially after the Revolutionary War. It was “coated with a hearty and filling gravy that was adapted from the leftover fat drippings of pigs, so that the available meat supply could be stretched further than normal” <http://www.quora.com/Where-did-biscuits-and-gravy-originate>.
Biscuits and gravy reached a new height of recognition on the Western cattle trails after the Civil War. Charles Goodnight, one of the most famous trailblazers, is often credited with inventing that mobile kitchen known as the all-purpose “chuck wagon,” chuck referring to “17th Century England meat merchants who referred to their lower priced goods as “Chuck. By the 18th Century, the term “chuck” was communicated towards good hearty food” <http://americanchuckwagoncooking.blogspot.com/p/chuckwagon-historythere-is-majestic.html>. Goodnight knew that after a long day of driving cattle and sometimes facing danger from Indians and outlaws, the cowboys needed hardy meals, including biscuits.
Of course, Cookie, who did much more than cook and was generally trusted and well respected, could earn up to $60.00 a month for his culinary skills—among his duties was preparing a breakfast of “sourdough biscuits, white gravy, sowbelly, and black coffee; dinner: sowbelly, black coffee, sourdough biscuits, and white gravy; pickles, supper: black coffee, sowbelly, white gravy, and sourdough biscuits” <http://www.cartermuseum.org/edu_guides/smith/resources/jobs_activitypage.htm>.
Of course, as one person described biscuits and gravy when remembering visiting his grandparents’ farm, “Indescribably flaky and delicious biscuits topped by a decadently rich and creamy sausage gravy”
Soooo…a perfect meal, whether at the beginning of the day, at the end of a long and busy day or a slow and relaxing day, or maybe before or after a lusty adventure…
MuseItHOT, MuseItUp Publishing. October 2014.
Sometimes people choose to live life to the fullest…
BLURB: Burt and Rachel Markham are ordinary small business owners of a feed & seed store in a small Kansas farming and ranching community. Many years before, as young university graduates eagerly anticipating exciting overseas employment, a lifetime in Kansas was the furthest thing from their minds, particularly Rachel who was raised overseas and dreamed of going back. By July 2013 their twin 18-year old daughters, having graduated high school several months before, go east to attend a university. Burt and Rachel settle into their new life of an empty house and a predictable and unchanging routine that threatens to stretch far into the future. One summer evening Burt has an idea—but will Rachel accept the idea? If she does, will the idea add new excitement to their marriage, or destroy it?
She stood and grasped his hand. “It’s a little windy out, but it looks like there’s only a slight drizzle. We won’t get too wet walking home.”
Burt glanced at the steaming dancers again and smiled. “It’s been a long time since we walked in the rain.”
“It has been,” she said and leaned against him.
“I always liked walking in the rain. A light rain that is. A slight drizzle is better.” They stepped into the cool twilight. “Anyway, when your blouse is soaked your nipples really stand out.”
“Oh God,” Rachel giggled. Silent lightning lit the wet road as if showing the way home.
Burt slipped his arms around her and kissed her cheek.
“Hi,” he whispered in her ear. She responded with a little sigh and reached back to place her hands on his hips.
The greeting was their signal when in public that one or the other was horny. They began whispering “hi” to each other shortly after they became lovers; now they also whispered it after he slipped into her or when she seated herself on him and they were looking into each other’s eyes.
The storms passed and the humid summer heat returned. The feed store remained busy. The trains rumbled past Four Corners, past their home, as they had done for the past two decades. Burt always thought that the late night train whistle that echoed across the moonlit prairie was one of the loneliest sounds he ever heard.
One night during their dinner walk they passed by the dark school. Rachel paused and stared at the small wooden building. Twinkling fireflies floated through the schoolyard.
“Are you going to volunteer this year?” he asked. Classes would start in a few days.
She was silent for a few moments before shaking her head. “No. I enjoyed being a volunteer teacher’s aide, but with the girls gone…” Her voice trailed into silence. “It wouldn’t be the same.”
Burt brushed her long hair away from her face. “What about soccer?”
“They asked me and I said I’d help on special occasions, like the end of season awards banquet.” She folded her arms around herself as if she were cold, though a warm breeze blew across the moonlit prairie. “But otherwise, no.”
“It wouldn’t be the same?”
“Jah, jah,” she whispered.
“Well, okay. I mean, there’s been a big change in our lives, but it doesn’t have to mean cutting most ties.”
When they returned to the farmhouse Rachel announced she was going for a swim. She poured a glass of Sauvignon Blanc for herself and picked up a CD player. She usually listened to classical music, waltzes, and operas when floating in the pool. There was a chakra wind chime hanging near the pool for the times when she felt like floating in near silence except for the chimes and the sound of the prairie wind.
A few moments later Burt followed with beer in hand. Maggie trotted behind him, rawhide bone in her jaws. Classical music floated through the night; fireflies played hide and seek among the neatly trimmed hedges along the perimeter of the yard. Others drifted in and out of the nearby cornfield, while the insects of the night droned on in disharmony.
He saw Rachel drop a dark robe to her feet. In the silvery light of the moon her nude fleshy form had a ghostly white sheen to it. She glanced over her shoulder, flashed a lusty smile at him, and dove into the pool. He stood by the edge of the pool and watched her gliding beneath the sparkling moonlit water. Then she surfaced, rolled and floated on her back with closed eyes. A pair of fireflies circled above her face.
It was the second time she was skinny dipping. It was like she was shedding the older, busy exterior of motherhood so that her younger carefree personality could reassert itself.
He sipped his beer and watched her face with Bettie Page bangs plastered to her forehead, surrounded by a fan of long hair and the glimmering water. She looked so content.
A thought was born.
A surprising thought.
A thought he never entertained before about his wife of 21 years—and the mother of his children. He walked unsteadily to a wooden chair with thick cushions and sat down heavily. He gulped his beer. A warm breeze flowed through the night; the trees rustled and the field of corn swayed like watery currents. Fireflies sailed past him.
“Dammit,” Burt whispered to himself in disbelief…disbelief and excitement. And trepidation. What would her reaction be? What would she say? Could he even find a way to suggest it?
He returned to the poolside. Her eyes were open. Moonlit water droplets on her beautiful face sparkled like tiny diamonds.
The thought wouldn’t let go. It took root…
Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.
He has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a third. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.
In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint). He is currently enrolled as an art student at University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
After 14 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters.
As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran.
Hampton can be found at:
Dark Opus Press
Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing
Amazon.com Author Page
Amazon.com. UK Author Page
Goodreads Author Page