Momma called it “skatin’ on the grease.” Granny referred to it as “fine-fried southern cuisine.” It’s the only thing daddy wanted today. Chicken Fried Steak (as we call it in Texas) or, for you other folks, country fried steak; nothing but this would do for him today. And on HIS day, what daddy wants, daddy gets.
Prep started early this morning and no thought was given to calories, cholesterol, colons, or cardiac situations. Seasoned iron skillets greased with Crisco or butter covered the stove top. Freshly pounded steak cutlets covered in buttermilk soaked in a dish. Ingredients and seasonings for the expected side dishes of freshly snapped green beans, mashed potatoes (skins off, please), sliced homegrown tomatoes, homemade buttermilk biscuits, and, of course, cream gravy were at-the-ready . Oh dear; the gravy. Will the gravy even be the right consistency this time? Maybe? Please?? Somehow a chocolate cream pie had to miraculously appear as well, because really, what’s a meal like this without pie?! Mercy, how in Heaven’s name did my Nanny Folsom, Granny B, and/or Momma create such a feast so flawlessly after teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, or ushering during worship service?
This is the type of Sunday dinner I attempt about once a year, and usually, if I’m being completely honest, on a Sunday I’m NOT sitting in a pew. It takes no less than three iron skillets (the biscuits must bake in one) and more dishes and utensils than I have in most of my kitchen drawers these days. The cleanup alone is exhausting, y’all! But oh my stars…it’s a staple southern culinary delight indeed when all is said and done, invoking powerful memories of meals past and conversations nearly forgotten.
Everything was just about completed when daddy appeared by my side. He somehow sensed it was time to make the gravy, and doing what daddy still does best, jumped in with dignity and grace to save the gravy.
We sat together at the round table with our cloth napkins in our laps (it’s Sunday, y’all) savoring each morsel. His talked about his dad, Pop Sam Sr., his uncles from both sides of the family, and trips with his parents and Momma on the road and flying. Daddy can name all the cars and planes he owned but has no idea what medications he takes each day or what day of the week it is. Daddy can identify dog breeds and AKC standards for each dog, but cannot find his phone, wallet, hat, or inhaler. Daddy will make his bed every single morning but cannot find his stack of clean towels to use on his labeled bathroom shelf. Thankfully, Daddy can belly laugh and do Tai Chi and dispense wisdom and tell stories. And make no mistake, Daddy can still create a mean skillet of homemade gravy; today, that’s a scrumptious condiment to a complicated situation. Gratefully, today, on HIS day, his yummy cream gravy soaked our meal and our souls, once again allowing grace and clarity to briefly shine in stunning brilliance…
PS: Happy Father’s Day to all you dads! It’s been noted before how anyone can be a father, but it takes a special man indeed to be a dad…so grateful and thankful for the example of my dad (Pop Sam) and the extraordinary man (St. M) who our two little women call dad!