Food, it’s one of the things we can’t live without. It’s a necessity to be sure, but it is so much more than that. It can bring families together, it can bring a smile to your face when you remember a special meal, food or recipe and the memories associated with it. Food is often regional too, to my fondest memories are of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy (lots of gravy), fried okra and biscuits (with lots of butter, and no, I’m not talking about cookies). If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m proudly from Texas.
I remember the first time (as an adult) that I traveled to the Pacific northwest, Oregon to be exact, wow was that different (foodwise), we went to a diner type restaurant, I couldn’t find chicken fried steak on the menu, but where I came from, no self respecting diner would not serve chicken fried steak, even if it wasn’t on the menu, all you had to do was ask, and the cook would whip up a chicken fried steak that would make you slap your grandpappy!
So at this diner in Oregon, I asked for chicken fried steak, the waitress had a puzzled look on her face, she asked if I wanted fried chicken, no I said, I want chicken FRIED steak, she still didn’t understand, it turned out that the nearest item on the menu was veal parmesan, YUCK! I even explained it, it is very simple, take a cube steak (or beat a piece of steak until you can see through it), bread it with seasoned flour and egg wash, dip back and forth a couple of times until well coated, then fry in a pan with lots of hot oil until golden brown. You have to have cream gravy on it, the best is made with the drippins from the pan (drippins: what’s left in the pan after you cook the last chicken fried steak, don’t burn it!), you pour some flour in the pan with the drippins, make a roux, cook it for a few minutes, add lots of milk, canned milk is even better, whisk until smooth and thick. Southern style, cream gravy has to be thick, you should be able to (almost) stand a fork in it, and don’t skimp on that gravy, pour it over the steak until it is smothered. Don’t forget about the mashed potatoes, cover them well with the gravy. You can serve just about any veggie with this, green beans, peas, corn, cole slaw, fried okra (my favorite), beans, carrots, broccoli, greens… and you must have either Texas toast (really THICK white bread toasted on a griddle with butter) or homemade biscuits. You use these to sop up the gravy that is left on your plate. If you don’t have enough gravy left over to sop up, then by golly, you ask for more gravy, we will not put up with naked chicken fried steak, can I get an AMEN?
What you never do to chicken fried steak: serve it naked, it requires gravy, lots of gravy / brown gravy=NEVER / never put parsley flakes on the steak or gravy, it just ain’t right / thin gravy, it must be THICK / never buy pre-made frozen chicken fried steak, you must make it from scratch or get it from a restaraunt / NO ketchup, NO mustard, NO steak sauce, NO lemon / never bake it, it must be fried /
Enough ranting about chicken fried steak. I have lots of other favorite foods. Today I was thinking about foods and recipes that I make now that I am living off grid. My kitchen is, well lets just say it’s adequite, just… I have an oven and stove top combo that came out of a travel trailer. It runs off propane, the oven does not have a thermostat so baking in it is hit or miss, I have baked a few things in it, but I don’t like lighting the darned thing so I generally don’t do anything with the oven. Right now I don’t have enough counter top space, that gets annoying, especially if I am making a dinner that has more than one or two dishes.
Today I didn’t feel good, so I wanted some comfort food, and it had to be something easy to fix too. I had Mountain Man Bob get a couple of large potatoes from under the sky cabin, I peeled them and grated them. I set them in a bowl with water to get rid of some of the starch. I picked some rosemary and ran it through my coffee grinder, that minces it nearly to a powder. I also ran some dehydrated onions through the coffee grinder to make it a powder. Next I opened a can of Spam and I grated it so that it would be the same as the potatoes. I drained the potatoes then mixed everything together along with lots of salt, pepper and garlic powder. I cooked it on a hot pan in oil until browned and tender. I like mine with ketchup, Mountain Man Bob likes his plain.
Another dish we like is chicken and dumplings. We have that several times a month, we haven’t had it in a while so I’m going to have to whip some up soon. We had a friend from England (you know who you are, grin) come out for a visit, I wanted to cook a tyoical meal for him so I made chicken and dumplings. He wanted to know what that was, I tried to explain it, but coudn’t explain it very well, it was the dumplings that was the problem. First I said they were like biscuits, but in England, biscuits are sweet cookies, not very appetizing in chicken stock! So I just made it, and everyone liked it, my friend asked for seconds, that is always a good sign that the meal is tasty. :)
The way I make chicken and dumplings, I take 2-3 cans of chicken meat, pour it in a large pan, juice and all, I add a can of green beans, sometimes I add a can of chicken soup, I add a can or two of chicken stock, honestly I just add what I have on hand, I get this boiling on the stove. I make up the dumplings by putting about 2 cups of Bisquick (or any baking mix) and enough water to make a thick dough, I mix this well, then using 2 spoons, I dip out balls of dough and place them into the boiling liquid. Once I have all the dough in the stock, I cover the pan and put the fire on med-low. I cook for 15-20 minutes or until the dumplings puff up and are cooked though.
I have more recipes that I will write about later. What is your favorite meal? Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite food is, I would love to know.
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