Sunday mornings are crazy at this house, anyhow, but on this particular morning, I was making sausage gravy for the church breakfast, finishing up some French Silk Chocolate pies for lunch, getting my ladies up, showered, dressed, fed, medicated, and I had a new person filling in for my regular Sunday morning gal, who was off somewhere for Easter – AND we needed to be at church a whole hour earlier than usual. (We did not want to be late because we had friends with four young sons visiting Laws Chapel for the first time.)
I kinda’ stumbled down soon after six thirty and started the Sausage gravy in a big heavy pan, then got on with the chocolate pie. Our Girl Nettie came out, then, and wanted some breakfast, so I got her some cream of wheat. and yogurt and a banana, green tea and water and her morning meds the usual) — and kept an eye on my sausage that was browning nicely in my big heavy pot.
When it was all thoroughly browned, I dumped in the flour, and stirred that until it was all absorbed into the pan drippings and stuck to the sausage, and then poured in the milk and stirred it some more. I had a very heavy bottomed pot, and I decided that it could cook on low while I did other morning things, so I turned it all the way down, put the lid on it and went about my morning. Several “stirs” later, I noticed that time was getting away, and decided to inch it up a notch on the heat, and purposed to stir it more frequently. I kept after the other kitchen things of the morning, and stirred it several times before going to get Cecilia up. All was well. So I got Cecilia up and on the potty and ready for the shower, then went to check something on my computer in the study. (I don’t know what was so important right then, but somehow, I thought it was!) It was while I was in there that I suddenly got a whiff that vaguely smelled like something was getting a bit too hot
To show how incredibly distracted I was, I must confess that, initially, at least, I was puzzled. I came out of the study, into the kitchen and was greeted by the lid on my big pot sputtering away and the gravy bubbling up and frothy around the edges. I flew over to the stove, cut off the gas burner, grabbed my trusty wooden spoon and began to stir. Oh, no! It was really sticking. I gave the pot a good sniff. I could smell “burned” if I tried hard enough. Oh, dear, oh, dear! This gravy was surely ruined! I grabbed another heavy bottomed pot from my cupboard and hurriedly dumped the gallon+ of gravy over into the other pot. The bottom of the first pot sizzled and refused to give up a thick layer of gravy that was obviously “stuck.” I gingerly ran my spoon over the layer, getting off what came easily, while my head raced a hundred miles an hour. There was no time to make new, even if I had the sausage needed. Which I didn’t. If the gravy already tasted burned, it would only be made worse by scraping the bottom layer into it. How many people would be at church for breakfast? Was this going to be enough? I looked at the thick layer on the bottom and tried to see if there was any black showing through. There was. Oh, dear, oh, dear!!!
I plunked the lid onto the second kettle and set it on an unlit burner. I carried the first kettle over to my big kitchen sink and ran some water in it. Running the wooden spoon across the bottom only added to my dismay. It wasn’t coming off any time soon. The blackest of black showed where the spoon scraped along the bottom and I pondered what in the world I should do on this busy Sunday morning. I hoped that my house didn’t smell like burned sausage gravy, but I was pretty sure that if I lit into that pan and started to clean it, there would be no doubt. I didn’t have time, anyhow! When there was about an inch and a half of water in the bottom of that pan, I plunked that lid right on it and carried it out to my back deck and set it down close to the side of the house and closed the door so that Certain Man wouldn’t see it when he came in from morning chores. Back in the kitchen, I stirred the gravy I had left, smelled it repeatedly, and prayed! “Oh, Lord Jesus, PLEASE–!!! “
And then, because there was nothing else I could do, I finished up my Cecilia girl, gave instructions to my Sunday helper, sent the gravy to church with Middle Daughter so it would be sure to be there on time and got Love Bug (who had spent the night) combed and myself dressed and we were ready to go. In between, I asked Certain Man and Middle Daughter and Sunday Helper and even Love Bug if they smelled burnt sausage gravy, and they obligingly sniffed the air and said they didn’t really think so. It comforted me enough that I decided that I wouldn’t mention it unless coerced into it by someone saying something like, “This sausage gravy tastes kinda’ scorched, don’cha think???”
So we went to breakfast at church and everything went smoothly. Our hospitality committee did a splendid job of planning and the tables were decorated very nicely and food was plentiful and fellowship was warm and comforting. When all was said and done, and the Gathering Place was back in order and the leftovers were being claimed, I went to get the pot that still had some sausage gravy in it. My good cousin, Donna, champion of the Hospitality Committee, busy with washing dishes and putting things away, stopped in the middle of what she was doing to say, “Honestly, Mary Ann! That was some of the best sausage gravy I have ever had!”
I stopped, my heart quiet in the middle of all the hubbub and Easter bustle, and heard a snatch of melody from somewhere in my brain, that was singing “Grace, grace, Wonderful Grace!” And I said to Donna, “I’m so relieved! I was afraid it was ruined! It stuck really bad this morning, and I put it into another pot and hoped for the best – but I didn’t know . . .” She laughed and reassured me that it was fine, and I began to wonder if (just maybe!) it hadn’t stuck as badly as I thought it had.
After a worshipful Easter service, we came home, and the afternoon was very full with company and an Easter egg hunt on the lawn for the children of my Bible study gals, and finally, when everyone was gone, Middle Daughter and I cleaned up the kitchen and put things back in order. When we were almost done, I remembered my kettle on the back deck and went to fetch it. I brought it in and pulled out a scraper to see if I could scrape it clean.
There was absolutely no reason for that gravy to not taste terrible! The pan was burned so black that I couldn’t just scrape things off. Oh, the first layer came off okay. Thick, gunky strips of browned gravy, soggy with water, and smelling “burnt” peeled off beneath my trusty plastic Pampered Chef dish scraper, but what was underneath took a Stanley Stainless Steel Pot Scrubber, and Middle Daughter’s elbow grease and finishing efforts before the pan was shiny again.
The leftover gravy that we brought home was eaten by the household of Certain Man without any notice of anything amiss. And through it all, I’ve heard that Melody of Grace Given. Ah, what an incredible, unexpected (and truthfully, undeserved!) Easter Gift of a desperately needed “common thing,” given to a distracted Delaware Grammy whose heart gives Grateful Praise.