Meals & sides

In the kitchen with the queen of gravy: Country Grandma’s ham gravy recipe

She doesn’t like potatoes but Country Grandma is the queen of stirring up delicious gravy, and pretty much any other down-home Midwest comfort food served at a farmer’s table. When it came time to make gravy this Christmas, I had an abundant amount of reserved ham cooking juices but I didn’t have a recipe or a plan for making the gravy. Should I use flour or cornstarch? Broth or milk? My sister Heidi suggested I ask Country Grandma, the queen of gravy, to show me how she makes hers.

Thankfully she obliged by stepping into the kitchen and showing us how to make ham gravy with milk and cornstarch. She eyeballed it so I’m hoping the mental notes I’m posting will be enough for me to remember how to make it next time.

ham gravy

Also known as Ma T, Country Grandma (Judy Thomssen) is grandma to my nephews—the T Boys. Before Grandpa Ron died, they farmed near Lake Benton and raised a son, Will, who is married to my sister Heidi. (Yes, that makes Judy Heidi’s mother-in-law and we love her company!) When the T Boys were little, Ron and Judy lived in the country and my mom lived in town so they nicknamed Judy Country Grandma. Can you imagine a farmer’s wife not liking potatoes? But my sister was right—Country Grandma is the queen of gravy and she is welcome in my kitchen anytime. I want her to come back and show me how to make her beloved meatballs, and the hamballs I just heard about.

Read this article about Judy’s mind-blowingly easy donut holes made with biscuit dough: Morning donuts in a teensy Minnesota town, blessings of life and making cinnamon sugar donut holes at home.

The T Boys in 1998 (Trav, Garritt, Cody)
The T Boys in 1998 (Trav, Garritt, Cody)

Salty swine wishes,


Country Grandma's ham gravy recipe - the eyeball method


  • equal parts whole milk and water
  • cornstarch (liquified to a paste with ice water so you don't get cornstarch floaters in your gravy)
  • ham cooking juice to taste
  • pepper


  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, whisk milk and water to boiling.

  2. Pour in cornstarch and stir constantly until thickened. Add ham cooking juice to taste, starting with a smaller amount and adding from there. (It's easy to add more but you can't take it out if you add too much.)

  3. Serve over mashed potatoes. Store leftovers in refrigerator and serve hot over fried leftover mashed potatoes or toast.

Relax. I made a cheesecake, I didn't fold a fitted sheet.

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