I think I'm still digesting Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, the season has come. It's cold outdoors, and indoors the furnace continually battles the drafts. One thinks of comfort foods among the available nest of creature comforts. Fuzzy socks, fuzzy robes, fuzzy gloves, all help keep the icy frost away from lungs and toes. Of course, so does hot chocolate, fried chicken, and baked potatoes.
I had a nice helping of gravy last week at a table-groaning, where's-the-extra-leaf Thanksgiving Dinner. Gravy is something I never make at home but always eat when a relative makes it. My Northern Grandma makes a brothy gravy, brown and rich and oniony. My Southern Grandma makes thick, white gravy waiting to surprise you with pepper and asking to be ladled over something, anything on a nearby plate. Both gravies make it onto my dish when I'm holiday-ing in South or North. I know how to make gravy; I can make good gravy; but I seldom indulge, seldom make a bird or piece of meat big enough to warrant gravy.
Yesterday I fried the best chicken I have in a long time. I'm convinced it wouldn't have turned out nearly so well had it not been rainy and cold outside. As it was, chilled precipitation had been dripping down all day, and the kitchen needed an excuse to warm up. I obliged, doing something completely new: making fried chicken for one. With John at work, and roommates off on their own tasks and errands, I thawed a chicken breast, dredged it in the only available flour (organic whole wheat), and placed it lovingly in a small skillet with a pool of oil in the bottom. I liberally snowed salt and pepper down on to it. And waited. And waited.
I think success came from several sources: A) I didn't keep turning it over impatiently. Letting it sit didn't make it burn, but it did allow the surfaces to get nice and crispy. B) I put enough oil in to begin with. Sometimes I have to add oil part way through, and I think adding cold oil messes up the skillet's groove. C) For some reason, the whole wheat flour worked really well at staying on the stupid bird. I have a frequent problem of most the flour falling off. This stuck. D) I didn't hold back on salt and pepper. Hallelujah.
It was lovely. I accessorized it with two small baked potatoes and some corn. What a feast.
I think this year I'm thankful for gravy: gravy to pour over potatoes, and gravy in the form of extras that season and salt life. Extras like red Christmas socks, extras like really good lip balm in cold, biting wind; the gravy of having a fiance willing to drive into the city just to print off invitations so they're just right; the gravy of a mom who enjoys Harry Potter, a dad who enjoys Scrubs, and a brother who enjoys Family Guy. Extras like the six year old down the hall who still gets excited at Spaghetti-o's, extras like having something you're nervous about go right, extras like a friend excited to hear from you. And extras, yes, like gravy, and hot Assam with a splash of milk and sugar, and lasagna straight from the pan.
For life's gravy, and my grandmothers' and mother's, I am grateful.