In the previous post, I shared my efforts to enlighten a couple of transplanted Yankees by explaining how to make cornbread.
I received several responses.
Margaret Howell, an old friend from my high school days in Mississippi, wrote to say that my blog post had inspired her to make cornbread that very day. Of course, as a Southerner, Margaret made it the way Jesus would have made it - white corn meal, no sugar, she said.
“I had it with black-eyed peas and cabbage. Wish you were here for some!’’
Matt Self, who is a big-shot TV producer at the local NBC affiliate here in Phoenix, wrote to expand on the cornbread theme. “In my neck of the woods (Kimberly, Ala.) we crumble that stuff up in a glass and pour buttermilk over it.’’
Matt, is absolutely correct.
In fact, I told my Yankee friends about that, too. They just looked at me with an expression of incredulity, so I gave up trying to convince them. You have to take the Yankee out of people a little at a time, I reckon.
C.J. in Phoenix, being a Southwestern girl, was opposed to using corn meal altogether. “You need a recipe for tortillas,’’ she said. Let’s all pray for C.J., OK?
And finally, there was this from Cristina in Mesa: “So what’s your recipe? I don’t like the fluffy, yellow cake stuff, either.‘
Well, that’s a first. No one has ever asked me for a recipe before.
So I am honored to consent. Here goes:
SLIM’S GOD-FEARIN’ CORNBREAD
One 8-inch cast-iron skillet, properly cured.
Note: Over my mild objections, you can also use the tin muffin trays or corn-pone trays, but I can’t guarantee that your conscience won’t keep you up at night if you do it that way.
1 ¼ cup of white corn meal mix.
½ cup of Martha White self-rising flour (It’s got Hot Rize!)
1 teaspoon salt
¾ tablespoon of baking powder
1/3 cup of Crisco shortening.
1 cup of milk
A word about ingredients:
Organic products are very popular these days. But I strongly advise against using organic produce in any recipe. OK, I realize that this recipe doesn’t cause for anything which would require you to choose between regular and organic, but let me finish: It’s a topic I have deep feelings about. And, besides, I never interrupt you when you are talking, do I?
Now, I am opposed to the use of organic produce for many good, common sense reasons.
First, people who insist on using organic produce are generally weird, odd, strange people. I am not sure exactly why that is. It could be a chicken-and-egg deal. I don’t know if they are weird, strange and odd because they consume organic produce or if consuming organic produce causes them to become weird, strange, odd people.
But, invariably, people who insist on organic produce are the sort of people who raise kids that turn out to be synchronized swimmers or rhythmic gymnasts. You know, weird people. So it’s best to stop the cycle of weirdness at the current generation.
Beyond that, I will point out when I grew up we grew almost all of our own vegetables. We had competition from bugs and worms as to who was going to enjoy the fruits of our labor, so we routinely saturated all of our plants with powerful chemicals. It never did me no harm. Today, I am a 5-foot-11, 185-pound picture of virile manhood, the veritable picture of health.*
Find a clean mixing bowl. (For me, this is the most time-consuming part of the process)
Dump in the flour, corn meal, salt, baking powder and mix thoroughly with a spoon.
In a separate container (my cookware consists primarily of plastic margarine and Kool-Whip containers. Either will suffice), mix the Crisco, beaten eggs and milk together.
Pour liquid concoction into pan with the corn meal mixture and blend with a wooden spoon. Don't use an electric mixer; the cornbread mixtures should not be too thoroughly blended.
Grease skillet with a stick of butter or margarine.
Set oven to 400-degrees and place skillet in over to preheat.
Remove pre-heated skillet from oven (with an oven-mitt, unless you want to practice your cussin‘) and pour mixture into pan.
Cook for roughly 35-40 minutes. To make sure it‘s done, stick a toothpick into the cornbreard. When you pull it out, if no cornmeal mixture sticks to it, you know it‘s done.
Cut cornbread into about six big slabs.
Slather butter all over your slab of cornbread (Don’t forget to say the blessin’ before you eat!)
This tip is from noted Southern cornbread connoisseur Bill Perkins. "The proper way to store cornbread is to leave it in skillet on top of the stove with a dish-towl over the top of it.'' Thanks, Bill, for all you do. And, most of all, for CARING!
* This is an example of a literary device writers refer to as "creative license,'' i.e., an exaggeration used to emphasis a point. How big a exaggeration it is in this case is open to debate.