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A Tribute To American Workers

 

For many people these days, Labor Day is just another day off work and  the last ‘official’ day of summer, even though the equinox is still a few weeks off.

In the hustle and bustle that hoildays have become in America it seems we often minimize what this holiday is and why we celebrate it. That is ironic since Labor Day is all about each and every one of us who works or wants to work.

Today we celebrate us. Today we celebrate the work each of us individually and collectively do each and every day to help make and keep America great.

The piece below comes from an article written by Michael Thurmond, Georgia’s Labor Commissioner for the Clayton News Daily. All emphasis is mine.

Labor Day 2010 celebrations will be muted, or non-existent, for millions of Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, or too discouraged to continue the search for work.

The Great Recession is reaping a bitter harvest of jobs, hopes, and dreams. Americans fortunate enough to be gainfully employed are haunted by fear and anxiety, which are the debilitating bi-products of widespread economic uncertainty.

Snip………….

Snip………… 

Despite our difficult economic circumstances, I believe there is still much to celebrate and appreciate. The American Spirit is not broken, nor will it be broken.

During the nadir of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt boldly confronted eerily similar economic and political circumstances. In his first inaugural address delivered in March 1933, Roosevelt famously rallied a dispirited American people by proclaiming: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself –– nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

The President acknowledged the severity of “our common difficulties,” and he calmed a troubled nation by asserting that America’s problems “concern, thank God, only material things.”

America’s greatness is not defined by the gyrations of the New York Stock Exchange, real estate values, or the national unemployment rate. Lost among the exhortations of economic malaise is the fact that millions of laid-off workers have enrolled in technical, two-year and four-year colleges.

Snip………

During this Labor Day, please reflect upon the enduring greatness of the generations of American workers who contributed to the making of this nation. Throughout our history, courageous men and women have risen to meet and overcome daunting domestic and international challenges.

This time will be no different. Through good and bad economic times, America remains the last best hope on the face of the Earth.

You can read the full article here, Clayton News Daily.

Happy Labor Day to each of you.

 

Featured Recipe:          Biscuits and Gravy

This is a recipe given to me by the wife of a West Virginian coal miner. It was his favorite breakfast. He died of black lung  disease. We tend to think of and remember coal miners and their families only when disaster strikes. But like workers all over America, they are on the job 5 days a week.

So, on Labor Day 2010 I think it is fitting tribute to all working people to share a favorite recipe of a man whose hard physical labors helped fuel sixty-percent of America’s energy needs.

So featuring this recipe on Labor Day is my paean to coal miners and by extension to all American workers this Labor Day.

But I will tell you straight out. This recipe is pretty much made from pure fat.

If you are on a diet or you don’t do fat, this recipe is not for you.

It is extremely filling. Has to be to feed a coal miner for a long day’s work in the mine. It is a stick-to-the-ribs kinda breakfast. But healthy it ain’t!

The food police will be out to really get me now!!!!! I may have to go incognito in public for the rest of my life!

This is what you will need for 3 people:

5-6 slices of jowl bacon

About 2-3 tablespoons of flour

About 1 cup of milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Biscuits

Jowl bacon is hard to find in regular stores these days. Used to be fairly easy to find. A few times I found something with a label that said, “jowl bacon,” on it. But it was all pork fat and no bacon. There are several on-line stores that sell jowl. A simple on-line search will get you to a few of them. I understand you can find jowl in the south fairly easily as well.

Jowl bacon comes from the jowl (under the neck) of the pig. It is a very humble cut of meat, but extremely tasty. For a long time in Europe it was the part of the pig the Lord of the Manor gave his serfs or peasants.

If you cannot find jowl bacon or you do not want to purchase on line any bacon will do, but I would recommend slab  bacon to make this recipe.

The biscuits can be home made or bought; I often make Bisquick drop biscuits but used store bought today. When I have time I really like to make the Bisquick drop biscuits because they have these deep ridges on top and the gravy just sticks to them so yummily. Oh My!!!! Oh My!!! Oh MY!!!!!

Here is what you do:

Slice the bacon and place in a skillet over medium high heat. Fry the bacon on both sides till it is crisp and has rendered all its fat.

Also slice some very thin slices of bacon and put that in the skillet when you turn the bacon. You will crumble this on top f the finished dish. You want these really crisp. This is my contribution to this recipe. I add the crumbled bacon topping for presentation purposes.

While the bacon is frying make your biscuits or get the store bought ones ready.

I tried to plump mine to make little ridges like when I make my own. It didn’t work. But trying should count for something. Right???

In any event, place in the oven timed to be ready when the gravy is finished.

That actually happens 1 out of 20 times. But I am a proud American. So I keep trying. Right?

Remove the bacon from the skillet and set aside for use in other dishes later in the week like crumbling  on top of  salads, making green beans with it, or using in BLT’s.

Or do what I do. Nibble on a piece or two through the day. So good, let me tell you!

Keep the small thin pieces of bacon nearby. You don’t want to forget those.

Lower the heat slightly.

Now add about 2 to 2 and ½ tablespoons of flour to the fat in the skillet. Let it sit for about 15-20 seconds…………….

…………………then with a wooden spoon begin mixing it into the fat using the back of the spoon to work out any lumps.

When the flour is well mixed slowly add the milk stirring all the time……

Hard to get a picture of this since I am working alone.  I never could do two things at once. I mean, this is a woman who flunked cutting with scissors in 5th grade. I kid you not! So please, give me a break.

…….and keep stirring until the flour mixture is well mixed with the milk and the gravy begins to thicken. If necessary add a bit more milk. I needed to add about 1 more tablespoon.

Make the gravy as thick or as thin as you like. I like mine a little on the thick side. It is a well known fact that folks who flunked scissor cutting in 5th grade like thick gravy. Don’t ask me why.

Keep mixing the gravy and and smoothing out any remaining lumps. Add just a wee bit of salt and as much pepper as you like. Add cayenne pepper if you like some heat.

Mix the seasonings into the gravy work any remaining lumps out of the gravy until it is nice and smooth.

Take the biscuits out of the oven and put them on plates,  spoon some gravy over the biscuits, crumble the crispy bacon over and eat and enjoy and enjoy and enjoy.

NOTICE to Food Police! I am eating a quarter of a cantaloupe with this breakfast. A cantaloupe is healthy. So there!!

Based on what I eat I should be a blimp by now!!!!

Cost

5-6 slices of jowl bacon (1/2 slab)             $1.50

About 2-3 tablespoons of flour                  $0.15

About 1 cup of milk                                  $0.51

Biscuits                                                    $1.00

Salt and pepper to taste 

Total Cost = $3.16
Cost per person = $1.05

Bon Appetit!!!

Quote of the Day: All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.    Martin Luther King, Jr.

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