640px-Biscuits-and-gravyThe latest in our series of posts on how university presses and other small publishing concerns can enjoy greater financial security by creating new revenue streams. The introductory post is here. A second post is here. There’s another one here.

It’s that time of year when the Girl Scouts have hit the streets selling their cookies, or if you prefer, four dollar boxes of Glad To Be Alive. This annual rite provides not only snacking pleasure but represents one of the early signs that spring will soon supplant the tiresome frigid Hades many of us live in from December through March.

It also shows one of femaledom’s canniest victories in the war between the sexes. Girl Scouts sell cookies. Boy Scouts get stuck peddling popcorn.

The University of Illinois, like the Girl Scouts, operates as a non-profit. Unlike the Girl Scouts, we rely on a certain amount of funding from state government. You can imagine what that’s like.

Thus, we ponder hard on how to bring in revenue on our own, of our own. That we publish books that feature “reve-noors” should give us a blueprint to find bubbling and burbling money streams. But wiser minds (?) have suggested that running ‘shine is probably not a sustainable strategy for supporting academic publishing.

We considered a bake sale to raise funds. Okay, we cannot compete with the Girl Scouts when it comes to baking. Those girls have badges and everything. But the UIP staff sports its own formidable corps of bakers. Next Monday, for example, oven-savvy employees will bring in pies for our annual Pi Day observance, while those of lacking culinary skills will demonstrate their ability to memorize pi to perhaps the eighth digit.

Then we will focus on raising next years operating budget via a new kind of savory bake sale. That’s right. Daring to put aside sweets, UIP plans to offer biscuits and other gluten-filled delights smothered in gravy.

Our deadliest and most delicious food group, gravy goes back to that time when near-humans looked upon the fat/grease left after frying up a giant sloth and thought, Hey, how can we make our average life span of 22 years on earth even shorter?

Gravy! It got Americas poor through the Depression and now delights creative class youngsters looking to beat the last living molecules from the corpse of irony. Gravy! Formed from whatever you got, yet inevitably delicious. Gravy! A food so essential it can be called Hoover Sop and still find its ways to the table.

An Irresistible History of Southern Food (not published by us) provides the essentials. Note you can sub milk for water if you’re hoity-toity or not dirt poor. And see that part that says “salt and pepper to taste”? Chances are, you’re going to want a lot of salt:

2 tablespoons of flour or cornmeal
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

In a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat, whisk flour into hot bacon droppings. When four turns golden brown, stir in water and allow to simmer until it reaches the desired thickness. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

That ain’t no remoulade, son. That’s gravy.

We have yet to schedule our First Annual Bake (with Gravy) Sale, as we’re having trouble finding insurance that covers the category of “general injury, scalding pig grease.” But we’ll let you know. It’s sure to be just one more way YOU can enjoy yourself while helping keep the spirit of scholarship and free speech alive.

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