Saving Gravy

I couldn't tell you where I learned to cook because I drew inspiration from so many different places. I can, however; tell you where I learned to make my gravy. I learned from my mom.

I was already living on my own when I approached her in her own kitchen and said, "Mom, can you show me how to make gravy?" Since we grew up in a Southern home, I was touched, but not shocked when she turned to me with a gentle smile and replied, "I remember when I ask my mother the same thing." I think there was a nostalgic twinkle in her eye as she scooped the drippings from the pot roast and began my lesson.

It seemed like it took me a long time to get the gravy just right after that. I called her every time I made it with new questions. Why is my gravy lumpy? Why does it taste like raw flour? How do I make country gravy? How do I make red eye gravy? Why isn't my gravy brown - should I put soy sauce in it? (Did I mention I am Southern AND Vietnamese?

She always knew the answer. You added water that wasn't warm enough. You didn't cook the flour long enough. Add milk instead of water. Add coffee to it. Do not add soy sauce to your gravy; that's an amateur mistake.

Since I started cooking there has been a lot of trial and error. Today, as I was adding roux to a too-thin gravy, successfully saving it from both wateriness and lumpiness, I thought to myself, "I could do a cooking show for people who don't know how to cook."

The chefs on TV make it look so easy. Before Thanksgiving I watched Rachael Ray make 5 different kinds of gravy in under 10 minutes. If someone were to try that in their own home, I am almost sure it would be a disaster. After all of the mistakes I have made in the kitchen, I'm like the Queen of fixing disasters! The problem is I can't give out any recipes, so I probably wouldn't be very popular.

I can show you how to make gravy and save gravy, but I can't tell you what secret thing I put in my gravy that makes it eye-rolling good. I can give you a great potato hand-mashing technique, but I can't tell you what my Maw Maw puts in her potatoes that makes them so creamy. I can tell you how I get my lasagna noodles out of the pot without them ever breaking, but I won't utter a syllable about Mr. Bob's secret to lasagna success. I can show you how to save underdone fried chicken, but I can't tell you what my cousin puts in her flour that makes her chicken so crispy on the outside. And I can't tell you one single itty bitty thing about my pork chops.

So it looks like I can't have a cooking show. I can only have a food rescue show. That would mean I would have to make a mistake in each episode, but that wouldn't be too hard. Most of the show would be me saying "OHMIGOSH!" "TURN DOWN THE HEAT" and "THROW IT IN THE SINK". I guess that means that you don't have to be a good cook to produce good food. You just have to be good at salvaging food from mistakes.

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