"His father...was one of the best men that ever breathed.", Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
It has been a long and sad week in our household. MBH's father had a series of strokes over the last six months that left him a shell of the man he was and after a long struggle, he passed away yesterday. While I am so very sad to know I will never hear his voice or laugh at one of his tall tales again, I am grateful that he is finally at peace. He was a vibrant man who could tell slightly off colour jokes that had you laughing and there was no one who could tell a story as well as he, except for his son perhaps. MBH's father was of the last of a certain generation of Southern gentlemen to be sure.
MBH's dad and I never discussed food all that much except for oatmeal cookies. They were his favourite cookie and since MBH's mother doesn't bake or cook all that well, the only time he got really good homemade cookies were when I sent him some. I did however get one recipe from MBH's father for a true Southern delicacy, Red Eye Gravy and Country Ham.
He gave me the recipe by way of a story that goes something like this:
He was driving to the airport to pick up a friend who had flown into town for a weekend of golf. On the way to the airport, he took a short-cut through the country and hit a pig. Well, the pig was killed instantly and by the time he had gotten the pig off the road and tried to find the farmer to tell him he was sorry for killing his pig and that he would come back to make restitution by way of paying to have the pig made into country ham, he was late. So, he left the pig by the side of the road and hurried to the airport to pick up his friend. While he and his friend were waiting for the luggage, two police officers approached him and told him he was under arrest for leaving the scene of an accident and killing a pig. He was astounded since no one had seen him hit the pig and he hadn't told a soul. On his way to the police station, he asked how the police knew it was him who hit the pig.
"Well, you see", said the police officer, "the pig squealed".
Thank you, Sir. I will miss you...
Red Eye Gravy and Country Ham
4 Thick Slices of Country Ham
1 cup strong black coffee
pepper to taste
In a well seasoned cast iron skillet, fry the the ham until crisp. Pour coffee over the pan drippings and over medium heat bring to boil and reduce to 3/4 cup. Add pepper to taste. Pour over ham slices and serve with hot buttermilk biscuits.