For the second year running, my dad, brother, and I have hunkered down at home for Christmas Day. Most years we drive to my grandparents’ house in Davenport. While I miss the chatter of family and the constant playful screams of my twin cousins, five year-olds Mary Kate and Ellie, I enjoy the simplicity of remaining at home for the day (and never changing out of my Santa Clause jammies).
I am always the first one to rise on Christmas morning, and I patiently wait for the others to awake from their slumbers, so the day’s festivities (however quiet) can begin. (Andy actually set his alarm this year; he’s been sleeping in until 11 or later, but graciously arose at 9:30 today, which I thought was very kind of him.) After opening stockings and gifts (I am writing this blog post from my wonderful, new MacBook Pro-thanks Santa!!), Dad and I proceeded to make breakfast–the now traditional Christmas morning biscuits and gravy.
Biscuits and gravy was the traditional Friday game-day breakfast during football season; Dad never missed a week, and Andy never lost a football game. This was Andy’s favorite breakfast. Andy isn’t too concerned with his food: if it tastes good, eat it. And so biscuits and gravy breakfast consisted of store-bought biscuits (We use the Immaculate Baking Co.’s all natural biscuits, which are trans-fat free.), Jimmy Dean sausage, and a packet gravy mix. Dad had tried alternatives, but Andy preferred the usual way. Sure, it tasted fine, but after a while I couldn’t bring myself to eat it; everything seemed so processed and artificial. It may have been the breakfast of a champion, but it sure wasn’t the breakfast of health.
This Christmas Day, my dad was looking out for me: we stuck with the store-bought biscuits, but instead of JD sausage, we opted to make our own pork sausage. We booted the packet gravy mix and also made our own. The breakfast turned out to be awesome! It was one of those feel-good meals, the kind that makes you smile & warms your soul. The perfect breakfast for Christmas Day.
You can find how we made our sausage here. I’d love to try making our own biscuits, but for now, the Immaculate Baking Co.’s biscuits will do. If you can’t find these, Pillsbury makes an all-natural version, too. Below is the recipe we used for the gravy; it comes from a collection of recipes based around “what cowboys ate.” While this certainly isn’t a “healthy” breakfast, a few simple changes makes a world of difference. And hey, it’s the holidays :)
- 2 Tablespoons meat drippings or other fat source, such as butter (warm)
- 3 Tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (Evaporated milk is used because back in the day when cowboys roamed the earth, they rarely drank fresh milk; the milk they drank came in a can. I’m sure you could use regular milk, just don’t add the water.)
- 1/2 can (evaporated milk can) water
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. For the meat drippings: we rendered off 3 pieces of diced bacon until crispy (on medium high heat), pulling out the bacon pieces and reserving for later.
2. Add flour to the fat, whisking until mixture becomes a light brown or yellow color.
3. Add evaporated milk and water, whisking constantly for a couple of minutes.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste (at this point we added the bacon pieces back in, too) and turn heat to low.
5. Every few minutes, whisk gravy. The gravy will thicken slightly as it continues to cook over low heat.
6. Serve the gravy over biscuits and sausage.
As I reflect on Christmas, it was wonderful. I had a joyous Christmas Eve and Day. I am again reminded that Christmas is not about the gifts we receive or how decorated a house is, but about the family and friends we are gathered around, and the memories and experiences will we always remember. From this Christmas, I will remember: going for an afternoon run in the snow, blinking through snowflakes and trying my darn hardest to keep traction to the ground; the joyous experience of Christmas Eve mass; talking for hours around the kitchen table with the Edekers, who are possibly the greatest family I know; indulging on delicious peanut butter bon-bons, Spritz cookies, brie with raspberry, and endless other holiday treats; making biscuits and gravy with my dad; and simply experiencing the spirit of Christmas. I am incredibly blessed with, and thankful for, such caring, loving, accepting family and friends. Merry Christmas!