Submitted by Lanie Montgomery, Ohio
Biscuits and chocolate pudding might seem like an unusual pairing. But growing up, it was loved by everyone in my family, especially the kids. We had it for breakfast on Saturdays when we would spend a Friday night with my grandparents. It was usually served with a side of fried potatoes. I liked it so much that one year I even requested it from my mom to make as my birthday dinner.
My grandma Betty, who was from a hollow known as Frank’s Creek in Flat Gap, Kentucky, grew up eating this meal. She was born in 1936, but had little access to the modern conveniences of the time. Flat Gap, as with many of the other areas of eastern Kentucky, was very poor, as well as isolated. When my grandma tells me about her upbringing, it’s almost as if I’m hearing stories from someone born 100 years earlier. Her family had no electricity and grew almost everything that they ate.
When my grandma came of age, she, along with many others, made the trek up Route 23 to Ohio and beyond in search of jobs. Ohio is where she was married and eventually raised her family, and it’s also where I was raised. I would go with my grandma on her frequent visits back home to her parents and spend the weekend there, soaking up the experience and what to me was the nostalgia of her home-place. Although by the time I was around they had acquired electricity and indoor plumbing, the charm and love of her old Kentucky home is something I’ll always remember and cherish.
For breakfast, they always had biscuits made with lard and flour, scooped right out of a big bowl that my great-grandmother always kept sitting out. The biscuits were served with some kind of savory gravy, eggs, and fried potatoes. The big meal of the day was dinner and was usually served as what we would call lunch. It included beans, either pinto or green. But there were always beans.
Her mother would occasionally cook biscuits and pudding, which she called chocolate gravy, for supper. It tended to be a lighter meal, as a way to use the leftover biscuits. She always cooked it in a skillet, because to her, it was gravy. To my grandma, who wasn’t used to getting very many sweets and was probably a little tired of beans, this was a welcomed meal.
Today, I’m married with five children, and it’s an oft-requested meal at my house. I usually put one of them in charge of stirring the pudding while I work on the sides. I cook the pudding in a skillet, just as my grandma and my great-grandma did. The fact that I wrote this down in a recipe is something that my grandma would laugh about. I have it written down because I would watch her make it and then quickly estimate how much of each ingredient she was using. I mostly use canned biscuits now as a convenience and serve them with fried potatoes or scrambled eggs.
I’ve heard it said that we’re so busy giving our kids the things in life that we didn’t have that we forget to give them what we did have. Today, we have so many modern conveniences because of the hard work of the generations that came before us. My grandma may have been very poor—and she would tell you what a hard life she had—but she also learned love, which is something you have to learn in order to teach. All the conveniences and money in the world can’t replace it.
I show my love to my family now and pass on a little of those Kentucky memories and sentiments every time I cook this meal. I hope that one day my children will pass this recipe, and all the memories with it, on to their children, knowing that they’ve been loved.
Chocolate Pudding for Biscuits
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
In a 12-inch skillet, combine the sugar, cocoa, flour, and salt. Stir in the milk. Heat over medium until the mixture starts to bubble, stirring constantly. Stir 1 minute more after the bubbling begins or until it’s a little thicker. Remove from heat and add the butter. Serve over split biscuits or even toast.
This won’t be as thick as a pudding that you would put in a pie; it will be a little runnier.
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