Biscuits & Sausage Gravy

A week ago my friend and ministry partner Jan Hamil and I hosted the Spring Session of our Tasting Grace Mentoring Ministry. We went Southern all the way with homemade biscuits and delicious sausage gravy.  Tasting Grace is a “mentoring-in-the-kitchen” ministry of encouragement. It is our passion, and we have loved every single moment we’ve spent in the kitchen with the women who attend. All ages come and that is part of the joy!

This past Saturday I was blessed to serve by teaching two sessions on Tasting Grace at the 2017 Georgia Baptist Women’s Spring Event.  I had the absolute best time! My husband Gary came and supported me and ran the book table. He was so much help and we sold 70 Tasting Grace books. I pray each and every attendee caught the JOY of Tasting Grace and will use it as a ministry outreach in her church and community.

I wanted to share the recipes here with anyone who happens to stop by.  As I shared with the girls last week, this is a moderation meal. Not something you eat often, but definitely enjoy on those occasions you prepare this delightful Southern combo.

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS – Doubles easily!
(This makes about 10-12 medium sized biscuits.)
2 1/2 cups of White Lily self-rising flour
1/2 cup of Crisco shortening
1 cup of buttermilk

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a cast iron skillet or baking sheet pan w/Crisco.
  3. Mix flour and shortening together until the mixture resembles crumbs. You may use a fork or pastry tool, but I just use my hands and squish the flour and Crisco together.
  4. Next, pour in buttermilk and mix well. (I hold the bowl with my left hand and use my right hand to mix everything together – but you can use a large fork to mix if you prefer.)
  5. Now wash and dry your hands well and then “dust” your hands with more flour.
  6. Pinch off some dough, enough to fit in your palm  (you’ll get the size down as you make more and more biscuits) and roll it by cupping your hands with your palms sufficiently floured. Don’t handle the dough too much – my Grandmother always told me the biscuits would be tough if you overwork the dough. Just a quick knead is all you need! You will get better each time you make biscuits.
  7. Place the biscuits on the pan so they touch each other – this makes them softer.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter and serve.

The Fine Art of Biscuit-Making ~ “Roll & Cut Out” Biscuits OR “Pinching & Patting

  • Accurately measure ingredients. Flour is measured by the “SPOON & LEVEL” method – spooning into a measuring cup and leveling off with a straight edge (like a butter knife). Sifting is not needed.
  • Shortening should be packed into a measuring cup so there are no air pockets. Then it is “cut” into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, two knives or a fork. The result should be pieces the size of coarse crumbs.
  • Mixing the liquid ingredients into the dry ones can be done effectively with a fork. First, make a well in the center of the flour. Using a fork to gently blend in the milk or buttermilk lessens the chance of over-mixing.
  • Turn dough onto a lightly floured pastry cloth or other surface. Knead gently only until dough holds together and can be rolled out – about 10 to 12 strokes or less. Do not add too much additional flour when kneading and rolling.
  • Roll dough to about 1/2-inch thickness to ensure a biscuit with good height. Cut biscuits with a sharp-edged cutter. Cut straight down without twisting cutter to ensure tall, straight biscuits.
  • Place on a baking sheet 1-inch apart for crusty sides or almost touching for soft sides.

SAUSAGE GRAVY – doubles easily!
(Serves 4-6)
1 lb. Jimmy Dean pork sausage (mild, hot, sage flavored or a mixture)
[I like to mix the mild and sage and double the recipe by using a pound of each)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3-4 cups milk (whole or 2% milk)
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Crumble sausage and brown the sausage over medium-high heat until no longer pink.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  3. Sprinkle on half the flour and stir so that the sausage soaks it all up, then add more little by little. Stir it around and cook it for another minute or so.
  4. Pour in the milk, stirring constantly.
  5. Continue to cook the gravy, stirring frequently, until it thickens. (This may take a good 5-7 minutes.)
  6. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper and continue cooking until very thick and luscious!
  7. If it gets too thick too soon, just splash in another 1/2 cup of milk or more if needed. Taste and season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper.

Spoon the sausage gravy over warm biscuits and serve immediately!

My friend, you will love serving your family this comfort food.  I plan to make this for breakfast when my family is together for our beach vacation this summer. I know my boys will love it and I hope to teach it to my daughters-in-law.  I’ve taught them both how to make biscuits, sausage gravy is next!

Happy May Day to all,

Gran Jan

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Grace Gifts 15 to 49 [2016 Favorites]

Just a little under three hours left in 2016. Twenty sixteen was a really good year for me, more highs than lows and for that I am thankful. Especially for the knowledge that the consistency and faithfulness of my Heavenly Father never changes. He is always with me and I rejoice in the good times and trust Him in the bad times, knowing that He is ordering my steps.

I’m going to post pictures from every month of 2016 – a list of grace gifts for sure! These pictures make me so happy – they are just full of simple joys and to this simple woman it just doesn’t get any better.

JANUARY
January began with an appearance on Wheel of Fortune, America’s Game – with my friend Jan Leary for “Girlfriend Getaways!” It was a highlight of not only 2016 – but of my life! A dream come true. Team Jan WON and I wrote a post about it here on the blog. You can search and find it posted in February 2016.
FEBRUARY
A trip to the North Georgia Mountains in February with our boys and their families was delightful. We stayed in a beautiful cabin and spent quality family time together. Plans are already made for a repeat of this blessed time!My mom and sister and I enjoyed a Paint Party together as a Ladies Night Out at our church.  Luke 1:50 “His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation.”

MARCH
We celebrated my Mom’s birthday and I’m always thankful to celebrate her life! She is a gift to everyone in our family.

These are my Praise Team people! I love them. We love to sing together and we really love each other too. Most of all, we love Jesus.
Three little grandsons [Jackson, Abe, Zeke] in plaid shirts and khaki pants on Sunday morning. Little church boys. I love them!

An app on my phone to show my distance (almost 7 miles, woohoo!) and route when I ride my bike. I love riding the country roads near our home. I miss it now that the cold weather and early sunsets prevent me getting outside. Spring will be here soon!

APRIL
April marked a blessed event that has been prayed for by Pop and Gran Jan since our oldest grandson Zeke was born 8 years ago.  We witnessed our son baptize his son at Cartersville First Baptist. We are so thankful Zeke has professed faith in Jesus Christ!

We celebrated my Dad’s 82nd birthday with a big family BBQ. Here is my Dad doing what he loves best – grilling, and my three menfolk enjoying themselves and I couldn’t be prouder of them!

MAY
Our grandson Jackson graduated from Kindergarten in May and our hearts were full as we reminisced our son Jonathan’s graduation from the same Kindergarten 26 years earlier.
I spent Mother’s Day weekend with Jeremy and his family and we had a Mother-Son picture made at the church. I’m so proud of this preacher son of mine!

Two fig trees for Mother’s Day. My husband knows me well. I told him I look forward to teaching my granddaughters how to make delicious homemade fig preserves one day.
JUNE
The highlight of June was another awesome all clear cancer free report for my husband as we spent the day in Atlanta. We celebrated with lunch at Pappasitos, one of our favorite restaurants. We also celebrated 39 years of marriage on June 11th.

June is the best month for gardens here in middle Georgia. The weather is usually not yet blazing hot and my flower gardens and vegetable garden are so pretty! My grandchildren Jackson and Emery helped me plant these green beans during Spring Break. They were bountiful.
A little Father’s Day love…my husband loves his boys! And they are such good daddies too. They were raised by the best, their own Father!June was the month for the inaugural Gran Jan Camp. I had one camper this year – my oldest grandson. He had just finished first grade so he met the “requirements.” 🙂 Next year I will have 3 campers. This is Zeke during our early morning devotional time together. It was a week I shall never forget. We loved our time together.
JULY
July is the month for the Morton Family Vacation and we had a great time at Cape San Blas, Florida this year. The cousins played so hard together and that made mine and Pop’s hearts so happy! I made their matching shirts and that made my heart happy too.

My son Jonathan and his wife and children were all in a Hutto family wedding in July. It was beautiful! My daughter-in-law’s brother Jared married his beautiful bride, Deanna. Isn’t this a beautiful family? AUGUST
August brought about another awesome event for me – my first published book. I was a co-author of Tasting Grace, a book about the mentoring in the kitchen ministry that my friend Jan Hamil and I began back in 2014. This is Leah Adams, my friend and published author of several other books. The book idea was hers and I’m thankful she brought me along for the journey. It is the most fulfilling ministry for me. Thankful to my friend Beth Moore for writing the foreword for us.
SEPTEMBER
I made a “Frozen” quilt for my granddaughter Emery’s 4th birthday. It was fun to go to her party and see the JOY as she celebrated with family and friends. This is one amazing little girl!

Our Women’s Ministry and Second Baptist Church hosted the Jennifer Rothschild “Fresh Grounded Faith” Conference the weekend of September 23-24, 2016. It was life-changing for many women and our joy to serve. Nearly 2 thousand women attended.
OCTOBER
October brings the Georgia National Fair which just happens to be held not too far from our home! I braved the Ferris wheel again this year for Zeke and Madie. We had a blast!
Three of my grandkids stayed a few days with us during Fall Break and granddaughter Madie enjoyed our miniature donkeys here at the Morton Farm so much. They are named Maybelle and Moses Morton.

NOVEMBER
I love Thanksgiving so much. The simplicity of food, family, and faith – without all the trappings of other holidays appeals to me so much. This year was extra special as my parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on November 23, 2016, the day before Thanksgiving. The family gathered for a big photograph.

I enjoyed a sweet Thanksgiving school lunch with my son Jonathan and grandson Jackson at Jackson’s school the day after my birthday. I sorta think we three look alike in this picture and of course, I love that too.

I made a quilt for some sweet family friends, Laura and Hamp Jones, and they came by the house to pick it up Thanksgiving week. It was an overdue wedding gift and I hope they enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it for them.
DECEMBER
It was so sweet to see Jackson and Emery in the Children’s Christmas program at our church. Emery was “THE STAR” and Jackson portrayed Joseph. I pray the JOY of Christmas will be in their hearts as they grow older and realize just exactly what this beautiful season means.
I love this ornament…1977, our first Christmas together. This was our 40th Christmas as husband and wife. 

It was our great joy to have Keith and Krystyn Getty at our church for their “Irish Christmas” musical. Our choir sang and they sang and played. It was an amazing night of worship. Beautiful!
My five grandchildren who bring me more joy that I can adequately express!
It also brings me such joy to see my boys spending time together with their families. They got together just this week at Stone Mountain, GA for snow tubing and I know the cousins played hard.

This picture was made just a few hours ago at my mom and dad’s home next door to mine. It’s the Maloy girls. My sisters. I love them so much. we laugh easily with each other, we love our parents, and we love each others’ families. Having sisters who are also friends is a great gift I don’t take for granted.
As 2016 comes to a close and 2017 is dawning I want to just say how much I love my Lord, my family, my church, my friends, my life. God has been so good to me and it isn’t because I’m good, it’s only because He is good. All the time. I look forward to 2017 because I know Jesus Christ is already there. He goes before us and He is so faithful!

Happy New Year from the Mortons!

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The Dressing Blessing ~ Thanksgiving 2016

THANKSGIVING is my favorite holiday and has been for many years now. I love Thanksgiving because it is a simple holiday that focuses on faith and family. We make time to be together around good food and make time to count blessings. This year my parents, Tom & Lois Maloy (who just celebrated SIXTY YEARS of marriage yesterday) shared stories of their courtship and early marriage. It was a good, good day.

Today I am sharing yet another favorite recipe and this one is extra special to me because it’s my dad’s recipe. He taught me how to make cornbread dressing several years ago. I loved spending that Thanksgiving morning in the kitchen with him and wrote down everything he did. Since I was given the dressing blessing, I wanted to share the recipe with you today. It’s simple, Southern, and very traditional. I don’t know to make just a little bit – but I guess you could half everything to make just one pan of dressing. We have 20-22 people at our table, so I make plenty!

Southern Cornbread Dressing (makes 2 9×13 pans)
Ingredients:
A large pan of cornbread (recipe below – you will need 8 cups of crumbled cornbread)
Four pieces of white bread (allow to dry out or lightly toast, tear into small pieces)
Two cups (1 small bag) of Pepperidge Farm Herbed Stuffing
One can of Campbell’s Herbed Cream of Chicken soup
Two medium onions, diced well
One cup of chopped celery (I like to use the small tender pieces)
One stick of butter
Two teaspoons of poultry seasoning (more or less to your taste)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Three eggs
Chicken Broth (can make your own or used store-bought, you need 8 cups)

Instructions:
1. Make cornbread first – I usually do it the day before, and this is a larger than average skillet.cornbreadCornbread Recipe
2 1/4 cups White Lily self-rising cornmeal
3/4 cup of White Lily self-rising flour
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups of buttermilk
1/3 cup of oil
Crisco shortening to grease cast-iron skillet

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and grease a large cast-iron skillet, and then dust it with cornmeal. Set aside. Now mix oil and egg and add buttermilk, mix well. Add cornmeal and flour and mix together with buttermilk mixture. Pour into the greased skillet. Bake 20-25 minutes until nicely browned.

2. Make your chicken stock early so it can simmer a couple of hours, unless you are using store-bought chicken stock. I fill a stock pot with 3-4 quarts of water. I add 3-4 chicken thighs or if you’re roasting a turkey use the turkey neck, 2 onions quartered, 2-3 stalks of celery with leaves, 1/2 stick of butter, salt/pepper. Simmer.1

3. To begin making the dressing, first combine the crumbled cornbread, dry white bread and the Pepperidge Farm herbed seasoning crumbs together in a large bowl. Set aside.
34. Melt a stick of butter in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the diced onion and celery together until it is soft, transparent – but do not let it brown! Pour the onions/celery over the cornbread mixture.
25. Next, add in the can of Herbed Cream of Chicken Soup and the 2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning (add more to taste if you like a stronger flavor).

6. Now strain your chicken stock (broth) so you just have the liquid (not the meat, celery, onions). Pour the hot broth over the whole mixture and stir well. You want the dressing to be the consistency of oatmeal, not too soupy, not too thick. TASTE NOW BEFORE ADDING RAW EGGS!  This is where you can taste the dressing and add salt/pepper or more seasoning if you’d like.  We say Less Is More when it comes to sage/poultry seasoning.
47. Add 3 beaten eggs and mix again.

8. Pour the dressing into 2 buttered/greased 9×13 casserole dishes and bake at 400-425 degrees until browned on top, 30-45 minutes.

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I forgot to take a picture of the “browned/baked” dressing, but I found two pictures that show it among the Thanksgiving spread (and my delightful grandchildren) our family enjoyed. It is in the oval dish on the far right and in the partially consumed dish below!

SONY DSC

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Cornbread dressing is a staple at Southern tables. We don’t say stuffing, we say dressing. You can also sprinkle a little paprika on top for color, or add some chopped pimentos for color if you’d like. Dressing is not a pretty dish, but it is a delicious dish!

One last thing! I make the dressing the day before Thanksgiving and leave it in the fridge in a big bowl. The next day I put it in my casseroles for baking. I think it helps the flavors all meld together – but actually it also gives me time to do all the other cooking I have to do for Thanksgiving!

Counting my blessings this Thanksgiving Day!

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Whipping Cream Pound Cake

My friend Jan Hamil and I recently held the Fall 2016 Session of “Tasting Grace,” our church’s mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry. We love our Saturdays in the church kitchen so much. I made a whipping cream pound cake and wanted to share the recipe here. My dear friend Lanie Nash gave the recipe to me as her go-to pound cake. Every Southern woman has a go-to pound cake recipe and if you don’t, this one can now be yours! [All pound cakes start with butter, sugar, flour and eggs; variations include buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, whipping cream.] I promise this whipping cream version will not disappoint. I made another one when I got home Saturday because my husband had “FOMO” [Fear of Missing Out] when I brought home that empty cake plate! He also likes my buttermilk pound cake, but says he will need a taste test to pick his favorite. I think he just wants ANOTHER pound cake! He’s not fooling me. We’ve been married 39 years, I know these things…wc-pound-cake

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whipping cream (also known as heavy cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  • Grease and flour tube pan.
  • Cream butter and sugar until smooth (I use my stand mixer.)
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  • Sift the flour and add to creamed mixture alternately with whipping cream.
  • Mix all until fully incorporated.
  • Stir in vanilla.
  • Pour into prepared pan and place in a cold oven.
  • Turn oven to 300° and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.
  • Cool completely before removing from pan.

Trust me about the cold oven…just do it!

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Pickled Okra or Okra Pickles!

When you are blessed with friends who have both gardens and sharing hearts, this time of year you get okra, lots of okra. (Or as my Granny said, o-kree.) My friend Rhoda and I attend the same church, her family has been there way longer than we have and we’ve been at Second Baptist going on 29 years. She called me last week and said “you want some okra? I will bring it to you!” Now you know that’s a friend indeed! Because if you’ve never cut okra from a garden…well, it will make your hands and arms so itchy. But you forget all that when you are blessed to eat okra any way you can prepare it – fried, boiled, sautéed, or pickled! I’m sharing from my kitchen again with this post on how to make pickled okra.

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Gran Jan’s Pickled Okra
(double or triple as needed, this recipe makes 4 pint jars)
1 ½ pounds fresh small tender okra pods
2 teaspoons dried dill
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 teaspoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (or to taste, or may omit)
(or use fresh cayenne or jalapeño peppers – 1 per jar)
3 tablespoons canning/pickling salt
2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
4 one-pint canning jars and lids, sterilized

1. Prepare jars by washing, sterilizing and simmering bands/lids/jars.
2. Prepare okra by rinsing well under cold running water. Trim just stem ends of okra, leaving the cap intact. Soak okra in cool water for about an hour then drain and pat dry.

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3. Place the spices (dill, celery seed, garlic, sugar, pepper flakes) in a bowl and mix well. Divide evenly among the jars.3
3. Put okra in the sterilized canning jars, placing some of the pods up and some down, packing tightly.4
4. Bring water, vinegar, and salt to a good rolling boil.
5. Ladle the hot vinegar into the jars of okra and spices, filling to within ¼” of the top.
6. Make sure there are no air bubbles in jars, wipe rims clean, and cover jars with lids and screw bands firmly in place. Turn jar gently back and forth in your hand a time or two to mix the spices.
7. Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water and cool on a dish towel on your kitchen counter. Jars should seal as they cool. I love to hear the pops!

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Allow pickles to mature at least 2 weeks before consuming, if you can’t wait…go ahead and eat some!

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Gran Jan’s Tomato Pie

Yes, TOMATO PIE! This savory pie recipe is one my husband requests often. He loves it! In fact I made two just yesterday afternoon. With all the wonderful fresh tomatoes available this time of year, it is a summer staple for us. Add a nice green salad, or even a vegetable side and you have a great meal. Tom Pie

INGREDIENTS
1 9” pie shell, I buy the Pillsbury ones that come 2 to a package in the refrigerated section of the grocery store , and I use my own pie plates.
• 1 sweet onion (Vidalia if available), chopped & cooked in microwave for 2-3 minutes with a splash of olive or canola oil
• 3-4 medium size ripe tomatoes, diced and drained to remove juice (I let them sit in a colander for a few minutes)
• 2 cups grated cheese (sharp cheddar & mozzarella mix, could use pepper jack)
• 2 strips of bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled
• ¾ cup mayonnaise
• 3 to 4 dashes hot sauce (optional, but actually I use about 7 good dashes)
• salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place room temperature pie shell in pie plate, and then place in oven to allow to lightly brown for 7-10 minutes.

2. Remove pie shell from oven and set aside. 
3. Place the microwaved chopped onions first in the bottom of pie shell.
4. Next spread tomatoes over the onions, salt/pepper to taste, then top the tomato layer with crumbled bacon
5. Mix cheese, mayo, & hot sauce together
6. Spread cheese/mayo mixture over tomatoes and bacon
7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until browned, and be sure to let pie cool for 10-15 minutes before serving/slicing

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TASTING GRACE PRE-ORDER!

Today is a BIG day – a very BIG day – for several reasons! First, it is the inaugural day of GRAN JAN CAMP! That will be a post for later when my heart has calmed enough that I can even write. “Grandmother Camp” is something I learned about from Esther Burroughs years ago before I even became a grandmother. (She calls hers Nana Camp.)  Zeke is my only camper this year. The prerequisite to camp is finishing first grade. He just did! Next year I will have 3 campers – Zeke, Madie, and Jackson! And so it goes…until Emery & Abe are added. Gran Jan’s JOY runs deep. I can’t wait to post…Tasting-Grace-Pre-buy-800x671

Next, today is the day (Summer Solstice) that pre-sale begins for the book of which I am co-author with Leah Adams. TASTING GRACE is a woman’s mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry. It first began in the hearts of Jan Hamil and I. It has absolutely brought us so much JOY – the simplicity of Tasting Grace is so refreshing. Sharing the Word of God, teaching a cooking skill, sharing a recipe, and sweet fellowship together. Mentoring that is practical and precious in a day of drive-through, hurry up, social media hype!

And have I shared with you that BETH MOORE wrote the foreword for the book? What grace for Leah and me to have that blessing! Only God!

Tasting Grace is a book that offers women  a complete how-to guide to hosting their own event. The book includes four weeks of Bible study with a focus on biblical mentoring. There are five days of Bible study in each week of the study that will take about 10-15 minutes each day to complete. Also in the book are recipes, devotionals, and tips from Leah and me on how to host a Tasting Grace kitchen event in the reader’s home or church.

Tasting Grace will not be in bookstores until August 1st, but our wonderful publisher, Warner Press, is opening up for pre-launch orders. Beginning TODAY, and running through July 18th, you can pre-buy Tasting Grace.

If you pre-order the book, you will get some extras: a digital version of the book in addition to your print copy. TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!!!  You will also get access to a private Facebook page for the book. Also, in addition to the wonderful recipes contained in the book, pre-buy friends will receive a few extra special recipes that are mine and Leah’s favorites!

Please consider pre-ordering a book today! 🙂

Love & prayers and much thanks,

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