Carter Family Fold - Hiltons, VA Photo by Amy ...

Carter Family Fold – Hiltons, VA Photo by Amy C Evans, SFA oral historian February 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I haven’t done a cooking post for a while and wanted to share my experiment in cornmeal breads this morning (I’ve taken it easy this weekend and didn’t preschedule the Civil War post – it will be out today, some time after my Johnnycake breakfast).

I’ve tried this bread in the past, with very forgettable results. I don’t have much luck with cornmeal – it comes out dry and crumbly.

Yet how I love those little dabs of white cornbread (see above) served with vegetable buffets in the South! What is their secret?

Well, I have no idea, but this morning, having forgotten the eggs while picking up five pounds of cornmeal for another venture, I decided to try this recipe. Look at those cakes!

English: Cast iron skillet cornbread with baco...

Cast-iron skillets and cornbread go together like bacon, jalapeno and onion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And yes, they are delicious. A cast-iron skillet is a definite must for the even, slow heating required. Also, don’t get all healthy-thinking and substitute for the bacon drippings – it’s required for the flavor.

Some substitutions do work. If you are like me this morning and without white cornmeal or the amount of patience required to dribble an entire cup of boiling water onto the meal (I cheated at the end and immediately regretted it, as it turned the entire bowl into yellow liquid), a little science helps.

That dribbling slowly cooks the meal, right in the bowl, bringing it to a solid consistency where it can be thinned with a little milk and fried. Realizing that, I just poured the liquid into a copper-bottom saucepan and slowly heated it, while stirring constantly (you have to be really careful or it will burn and stick – being hungry and having coil burners that retain the heat, I turned it up to medium high just until the stuff started to thicken and then turned the burner off), until that “fairly thick but not runny” state was reached.

Unfortunately, after milk was added, it went all runny again, but I just cooked it some more, again, slowly and carefully, still stirring constantly, just until it was thick enough not to run.  Then it was possible to proceed with the recipe as given.

The results are not very photogenic, but the taste?  Yummy!

However, this experiment has probably brought me a life-time ban from entry into the State of Maryland.

Don’t care – just wish I was back down in the Deep South where cane syrup is a thing. It’s all that’s missing to turn these cakes into little slices of Heaven.

Yummy to the nth power!  (Photo:  Phillie Casablanca)

Yummy to the nth power! (Photo: Phil Whitehouse)

Categories: Cooking

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