Hard-Time Gravy Recipe in the Colorado Mountains

When money was scarce, one mom turned to the neighborly suggestion of a Hard-time Gravy recipe.

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Money was scarce and groceries were high when we were living on a homestead in 1919. We had grown up in the Midwest where we could have a big garden, but here in the Colorado mountains, the growing season was too short for many vegetables we had been used to.

One day a neighbor called, and I mentioned that I didn't know what to have for supper.

"Try hard-time gravy over fried potatoes," she suggested. I had never heard of it.

Here is the Hard-time Gravy recipe: Dice bacon in a heavy skillet. (We used pieces off the ends of a slab; it came cheaper.) Empty half a can of tomatoes into the bacon and fryings, and simmer until it thickens. Add two or three tablespoons of flour and water, and cook like gravy. Season with salt and pepper. I add two teaspoons of sugar.

Our boys never tired of it. They said there was nothing better after walking three miles from school than to find a supper of fried or baked potatoes and plenty of hard-time gravy.

Mrs. M. E. Bouton
Oak Creek, Colorado

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.