When I was sixteen I dropped out of school and went to live with my grandparents in Holbrook, Arizona at a Navajo Mission School. My gram was the cook for the boarding school students, faculty and staff. She had very little supplies to work with. The school baked it’s own bread (which was to die for). Rather it was baked by a man in thick spectacles down in the basement of the girl’s dormitory in a dark hot space but it smelled heavenly. The main source of food was government issued commodities that came on a truck once a month. The commodities were generic labeled food stuffs that came in industrial sized cans and bricks of cheese food that could be frozen for later use. The commodity food was sub-par but we never guessed because my gram could cook up dishes that had everyone coming back for seconds.
One of these dishes was egg gravy on toast. Gram didn’t have a pre-set menu, she just cooked in order of what needed to be used up first or what she had a surplus of or sometimes the only thing she had left for the month. I suspect that egg gravy was under the last category. A huge industrial sized pot of milk, flour, salt, pepper and chopped boiled eggs over trays and trays of toast.
Being a boarding school, many of the students skipped breakfast, choosing to sleep a little longer before their very long day began. On the mornings gram made egg gravy word would spread and we learned by mistake not to underestimate the numbers for breakfast on those days. Everyone came for egg gravy on toast and they came again for seconds and thirds. Second’s weren’t always allowed as portions had to be rationed but not for egg gravy. Gram seemed to know how to satisfy more than hunger but also the need to feel abundance. The students would take a regular school issued tray and place a piece of toast in each partitioned off space then the gravy would be ladled over the entire tray. It was a magnificent sight to see the gravy tray and the faces of the students as they watched their overflowing tray of food while carefully navigating their way to an empty chair in the dining room.
I made egg gravy on toast this morning and even though it was out of almond milk and vegetarian fed free range eggs, I can still see gram standing next to the gas stove stirring a pot of gravy that was taller than her and smell the peeled boiled eggs. It is decades later, she has passed and every time I make egg gravy on toast I am transported back in time to a place that is full of smells, tastes and comfort.
What is a food that sends you back in time?
Egg Gravy On Toast
2 cups milk (any kind works, almond, coconut)
3 Tbl flour
sprinkle garlic powder (less than a 1/16 tsp) Really to taste.
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
2 chopped hard boiled eggs
2 slices toast or bisquits
Combine milk, flour, garlic, salt and pepper in pot on stove over medium heat. Stir constantly until it thickens. Add chopped eggs and pour over toast.