Big Southern Breakfast Challenge

Yankee Challenge

I couldn’t tackle buttermilk biscuits without first consulting the Queen of Southern Breakfast:  MawMaw

Of course she was tickled to hear from her favorite granddaughter-in-law and very excited that I was attempting to make a Southern breakfast of my own for her favorite grandson. After some catching up, she got down to business and told me that I couldn’t make biscuits without self-rising flour (and her blackberry jam, but we are all out). She said that one could do with regular flour, baking soda, and baking powder – but she never uses it, nor does she know how much of each to use. SO, just when I thought I was raring and ready to go, I had to rush to the grocery store to pick up some self-rising flour.

I couldn’t believe I almost messed up my challenge before I had even started!


The biscuits were definitely harder to make than I thought possible. First the buttermilk was runny – apparently it needed to be shaken? Then the dough was way too gooey, so I had to strategically add more flour without adding too much – all with some seriously sticky doughy hands. Finally, the dough wouldn’t come off of my fingers when I needed to roll the darn thing out.

While the biscuits were cooking, I did a little victory tap dance in front of the oven window…celebrating the formation of a buttermilky wet mess into smooth round biscuits. I was also praying that the sweet smell coming from inside that hot box meant my biscuits were going to be tasty. MawMaw told me there is no set amount of time it takes to cook biscuits – you just know they are done when they are golden brown and that’s that. “BUT,” she said, “Don’t overcook them or else they will be tough.”

Well how do I know if they are overcooking while they are in there??? Sheesh, Southern cooking is all about just knowing and not adhering to a set of instructions.

I removed the biscuits when I thought they were done – I can’t tell you how long they cooked because I wasn’t looking at the clock. All I know is that when the little piece I sampled straight from the oven melted in my mouth I knew it was time.



Hmmm… what to say about the grits? My husband does NOT like them – however, I discovered that I sort of liked them smothered in cheese late one night at Waffle House in Atlanta a few years ago. I couldn’t find true stone ground grits at the store, but I thought that Quaker Old Fashioned Grits would get the job done. I followed the instructions on the back of the container – slowly add grits to boiling water, cover and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes. Um… do you know how hard it is to cook something for that long when you can’t see what it’s doing in that stainless steel pot?? I might have peeked a few times just to make sure the grits weren’t sticking…

It’s good I peeked because they were sticking, so I decided to add a tablespoon of sweet cream butter. I figured that since people in the south love butter so much, what could be the harm in adding some to my grits? Sprinkle in a bit of sea salt and a pinch of Cajun seasoning… mmmmmmm .

In the end, my grits turned out lovely.  I know I wasn’t supposed to add cheese, but I just couldn’t resist. A slice of white American melted on top of grits is just oh so good. And guess who ate more than a couple of bites?? My husband. =)

Eggs and Bacon


I definitely wasn’t nervous about cooking the eggs and bacon… I cook those two things all the time for my hubs. HOWEVER, how does one go about cooking eggs and bacon in the same skillet? Bacon produces a ton of grease and, well, eggs cooked in bacon grease sound like a heart attack waiting to happen.

I opted to cook my eggs last… after the bacon and gravy were done. I didn’t want my eggs to get cold, nor did I think that a sunny side up egg would taste that great after 15 minutes of sitting underneath tinfoil. How do these southern people cook with only one cast iron skillet? I think I am going to have to get another.

I can’t take all the credit for the bacon because it is one of my husband’s specialties. Plus I get scared of the popping and sizzling and frying grease that accompanies cooking bacon. We discovered something new today – there is nothing better than thick cut bacon cooked in a cast iron skillet. I could not stop myself from stealing a few nibbles of the crispy bacon we fried up.


MawMaw’s Skillet Gravy

After the bacon was resting its greasy little face on a paper towel lined plate, I added a couple of tablespoons of flour to the grease and started mixing away with a fork. MawMaw also gave me her secret tips for making incredible breakfast gravy – and the biggest tip she gave me was that she doesn’t use a measuring spoon or a cup – once again I had to just know when it was done. I poured in some milk, mixed a little more, added a splash more milk, and switched utensils from a fork to a rubber spatula. After about 3 minutes or so, my husband was testing the gravy with a bit of biscuit and grinning widely at me. Apparently my skillet gravy was quite tasty.

plate full

After pouring the gravy in a bowl, I cracked a couple of eggs right into the skillet. I cooked those little guys until they were over medium and after a bit of frustration (trying to get them to release themselves from their new skillet home), I slid them onto a plate. Before you could say, “Breakfast is done,” my man’s plate was covered in food and he was anxiously awaiting my permission to dig in. I had to snap a few photos before I let him go wild with his fork.

As I dug into my cheesy grits and sweet n’ steamy buttermilk biscuit, I heard lots of “mmm-ing” and “ahh-ing” from my neighbor. I think my husband likes my breakfast. Next thing I knew he was sticking his fork into the grits and exclaiming, “These are actually pretty good!”

fresh plate

In record time his plate was clear and he was reaching for another biscuit. I smiled to myself knowing that I pulled it off. I had made my first big Southern breakfast with only a few bumps and bruises. The dough had been a bit too gooey, the eggs got stuck to the skillet, and I got some bacon grease splashed on my old school Red Sox shirt. Plus my camera has flour in the little crack around the shutter. Overall, I believe my first Yankee Challenge was a huge success. My husband is a very honest guy – and he said my breakfast was a “delicious experiment” and he can’t wait for me to make it all again. Next time I will have some of MawMaw’s homemade blackberry jam on hand though…

– Caitlin “The Yankee”
Twitter: @bearytastyfare


Filed under Cooking, Cooking Tutorial, Food, Southern Culture, Southern Recipes, Yankee Challenge

16 responses to “Big Southern Breakfast Challenge

  1. Debi

    The breakfast looks great! I remember when I was very young a neighbor from the south made biscuits that I loved. Now I can have them when you come home to visit. You made your Mom proud and your Dad jealous he wasn’t there for this feast.

  2. fantastic job little bear!!! i DO wish you’d move to texas and cook southern breakfasts for ME all the time!!! 🙂

  3. Ben O.

    Does the Yankee get extra credit for the potatoes (upper right corner of the 1st plate) and sliced tomatoes?

    Also, kudos on the creative use of a glass in lieu of a biscuit (cookie) cutter. We southerners are nothing if not resourceful.

    Realizing there are people who’ve missed out on the joy that is a biscuit made from scratch make me appreciate my southern upbringing so much more.

  4. Looks like your big Southern breakfast was a huge success! I wish that I was your neighbor so I could ‘drop’ in for one of your yummy meals!

    Is that a mimosa I spy in one of your pictures?!? 🙂

  5. mmm that looks amazingly delicious!!!

    I love a full-course delicious southern breakfast! I especially love home-made biscuits, and yours look delicious! I’m a huge sucker for biscuits and gravy and if I could eat them every single day, I would.

    Is that a mimosa I see? I sure hope so!

  6. Oh yum, that looks delish! It also has Ben O asking me if I’m up to the challenge this Saturday. Thanks a LOT!

  7. Thanks everyone for the great comments! To answer the mimosa question… YES that is one! My hubs brought me home a bottle of Champagne while I was in the midst of cooking so we could toast to my first challenge! Plus, what is a Yankee to do in the kitchen without some sort of ‘drink’ in her hand?? =0) Perhaps when I try a dinner recipe I will opt for a lil sweet tea cocktail instead.

    Note: I do NOT always drink while I cook – nor do I need to always drink while I cook. It just makes things more fun =0)

  8. April

    Love the challenge. Everything looks amazing, but I do agree, you’re going to need more than one cast iron skillet. Possibly different sizes to offer some flexibility. Welcome to southern cooking… butter is always one of our favorite ingredients (esp in grits).

  9. Ams

    Oh my goodness – okay, I said it on your other blog but I am coming over and I want that EXACT breakfast. You think you want to do it again? Mmmmmm… it looks so good. I have never ever had grits before – but I think I could get used to that whole southern business!!

    Good work lovely lady!! (But of course I KNEW you would be able to pull that off!)

  10. ali

    you are the cutest thing ive ever seeeeeeeeeeen

  11. Pingback: Big Southern Vegetable Plate Challenge « The Hungry Southerner

  12. cynthia laster


  13. A Fellow Yankee

    I too am a Yankee (Berkshire County, MA) transplanted to the South. Although not as far, I am in NC, close to the SC border. Found your blog post when searching for “big southern breakfast”. I’m trying to find inspiration to try this myself. I can’t imagine doing biscuits and gravy from scratch! Can you say “Jiffy mix and an envelope gravy mix?” (How many people just gasped? Okay, I’m kidding. If I’m going to do this, I’m doing it scratch too.) And cast iron skillets terrify me! Maybe I’ll make myself a Mimosa too. I also like to drink when I cook.
    Anyway… Good job!

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