Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Stuff Of Life

(Four of these fat rascals are helping themselves to the bird feeders, after stripping the squirrel corn back to the cob. There is a fifth, just off-camera. Photograph taken at a rather awkward angle from the kitchen window this morning).

Mrs Fisher's recipe last Sunday for a cornbread made with cornmeal and boiled rice was an interesting variation. Cornbread used to be a staple on every American table, North and South. In the little grey bungalow, corn and pork are a vous et nul autre team; if I serve ham, I make sure there are corn muffins to go along with it, and pork chops are always….always…accompanied by a side dish of the corn that we “put up” the summer before.

I found this recipe on an age-speckled clipping tucked between the pages of a Depression-era baking book I brought back from Michigan this fall. The last step before baking -- pouring a cup of sweet milk over the batter in the skillet -- is interesting.

CORN BREAD. "1 1/2 cups corn meal, 1/3 cup flour, 1 cup sour milk, 1 teaspoon soda (scant), 2 eggs, well beaten; 2 cups sweet milk, 1/4 cups sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. Mix and sift corn meal and flour. Add sour milk mixed with soda, eggs, 1 cup sweet milk, sugar and salt. Melt butter in iron frying pan and turn in mixture. Pour over remaining milk and bake 50 minutes in moderate oven (350° F.). Serves about six."

The eggs and sugar make it a Yankee recipe; I am told a true Southern cook never puts sugar in her cornbread and the purists frown on eggs and butter (my mother, a Texan, used bacon grease). For Southern-style cornbread, check out Christy's recipe at Southern Plate.


Packrat said...

It is funny how we associate certain foods with others. I always make corn bread when we have ham and beans (boiled ham bone and pinto or navy beans). My granddad always wanted sorghum on his cornbread.

Rochelle R. said...

Have you noticed that lots of older recipes call for sour milk? I always seem to have some in the frig so I always use it when I bake. I have never made cornbread in my skillet, I keep meaning to try it though. Pouring the milk on top is interesting.

Amy said...

I'll have to take note of that recipe for when winter comes around here.


I make cornbread in a cast iron skillet like my mom did. Being southern, no sugar! I heat the skillet in the oven with just bacon grease, before adding the corn meal micksture. (Sorry, ecks key not working.)

Sometimes I add in a half cup of corn, or chili flakes.

I use the recipe from The Joy of Cooking, and it never fails me. The real fun is placing a plate on top of the hot skillet and flipping it over, to get the bread on the plate.

T-Mom said...

I hate squirrels. I refuse to put up bird feeders because I refuse to feed the squirrels. A friend gave me a "squirrel-proof" feeder for Christmas--maybe I'll try that.

Have you tried this cornbread? It sounds interesting--I'd like to know how it turns out. (I can't try it myself--malfunctioning oven.)