Shannon Dittemore



Google chocolate gravy.

Do it. I dare you.

Now, I don’t know what that did for you, but oh my gosh! I had no idea the masses knew about chocolate gravy. Everyone always gasps and makes chortling noises when I mention it.

“Chocolate what?”

It’s left me the impression that this decadent treat was a cherished family secret. A recipe only WE knew about.

The very thing we’d clutch on our deathbeds as we dramatically wring a promise of compassionate stewardship from our loved ones (picture the ailing Mr. Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility).

But, man, even Paula Deen has her recipe online.

That said, no one makes it like my mama.

Or her mama.

Or my daddy’s mama.

Now that I think about it, the popularity of this meal shouldn’t have shocked me as it did. Both sides of my family have passed the recipe down. Nana has it all measured out for a family of four and Grandma Callahan’s recipe will feed close to a bazillion (I use hers, by the way).

But, the reason I bring chocolate gravy up now, is because it is inextricably linked to the women in my family. Every single one of them.

I have memories dating back to childhood of our family gathered around eating the stuff by the bucket full. We drizzled it on biscuits and eggs and bacon. We dipped our sausage links in it (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). We ate the leftovers with toast. Or just a spoon when the starch ran out.

Nana made it when we stayed with her and Pop, and Grandma Callahan made it when we were down south. I remember my grandmothers sifting the dry ingredients together like they were looking for gold.

Maybe they were.

Dad told us he had cancer over a plate of the stuff. Yeah, it was a bit tainted after that, but Mom’s made an effort to lift it back to its glorified status by making a batch every Christmas morning since.

And tonight, when I was making it for my family, I nearly teared up over the pot. My kids were there–Jaz making animal noises, Justus avoiding homework–and I just KNEW that my mom, and her mom, and my nana, and my aunt, they’d all had this moment before. Stirring and stirring the chocolate while loving on their kids.

And then the phone rang and as I passed the whisk to my husband, I couldn’t help but smile. This passing of the whisk was just another moment I was sharing across generations.

Because chocolate gravy is a lot like motherhood. Once you start, you can’t stop. If you stop stirring before it comes to a boil, you’ll get lumps, so you don’t stop. You don’t. Even if you need an extra set of hands to keep it up, the stirring continues.

And though Google has confirmed that chocolate gravy isn’t actually our family treasure, it still kinda is.

Cause my mama taught me. And her mama taught her.

And when Jaz is old enough, she’ll learn.

Not because chocolate gravy is healthy or in any way original, but because like all the love and memories we’ve made over a steaming plate of the stuff, it’s part of us.

So, happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas, and grandmamas, and nanas out there. I raise a chocolate covered biscuit to you. Keep stirring. It’ll all turn out.

Mama said so.



  • Comment by Lacey — May 6, 2011 @ 8:19 am

    Shan I love this. Reading it at work…and I’m crying. Happy Mother’s Day! Chocolate gravy is amazing. Your mama showed me that!

  • Comment by Denise Delk — May 6, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

    We do have so many wonderful family traditions, don’t we Shannon? Chocolate Gravy is just one of the many. What a beautiful post you’ve penned. I look forward to reading many more. Love you much & Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who read your blog!

  • Comment by Karen Luke — May 20, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

    Thanks Shannon… I hope you pass it on to Jaz as Sharon will pass it on to Sayth and Londyn… It may not be a healthy tradition but it tastes oh so good! Love ya

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