Mama’s country breakfast
by Rick Watson
Jun 08, 2014 | 835 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rick Watson
Rick Watson
Breakfast is my favorite meal. That’s not to say that I don’t love hamburgers, fish, steak, pork chops, vegetables, fruit, grains and most breads, but the aroma of frying bacon can rouse me from a deep sleep.

The only two things I don’t like is tripe (made from a cow’s stomach) and fish bait (sushi, calamari, anchovies and all that stuff.)

My love of breakfast started young. Mama cooked for us kids most mornings. We didn’t always have meat with every lunch or dinner but for breakfast, we’d have bacon, sausage or ham.

Sometimes she’d send me out to the chicken pen to gather eggs. The roosters and hens fussed when you entered the henhouse. Every now and then, I’d have to reach under a fat hen to get eggs. There’s an art to sneaking eggs from beneath a nesting hen without getting a face full of claws and feathers. The eggs were warm to the touch.

Mama’s gravy didn’t look like what you get at Jack’s or Mickey D’s. Her gravy was the color of bisque with flecks of black pepper.

Jilda’s mom made great biscuits, but my mom’s biscuits were different. She would scoop a glob of lard the size of a tennis ball and plop it in a cast-iron skillet with dappled sides from years of use.

She’d set the skillet on the small eye of the electric stove to melt the lard while she mixed biscuit dough in an ancient white-speckled bowl.

When the lard melted, she’d place 10 biscuits in the skillet with one in the middle that looked as big as a hubcap to my hungry eyes. Once out of the oven, they had golden tops, with a bottom crust as brown as a graham cracker. The biscuits crunched slightly as you chewed, which added a pleasing texture that went well with fried eggs and gravy.

On mornings when we had ham, she’d make redeye gravy, which raised the experience of biscuit sopping to a new level.

For variety, we’d sometimes have grits instead of gravy. The dollop of freshly churned butter in the pile of grits on my plate was as yellow as an egg yoke.

I became a coffee drinker before I started to school. She’d pour the morning nectar in my cup with a spoonful of sugar and enough cream to make it look like caramel.

The kitchen at the old place had a curtain-less window the width of our sink. On the sill, she had flowers and green plants that grew year around. The light coming through the windows made our kitchen feel like a happy place.

You might not be surprised to learn that the idea for today’s column came to me when Jilda asked if I’d like biscuits and gravy for breakfast. We usually have cereal or a blueberry-protein shake, but she cooks a mean breakfast that’s a rare treat for us.

I took my laptop to the screened porch and when the timer chimed announcing the biscuits were ready, I’d finished this piece.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy a nice country breakfast soon.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Happens is available on You can contact him via email: