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Hot Cornbread

 

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Once again at Farmer’s Market, there are fresh green beans to be broken and cooked with a slab of thick bacon.  There’s yellow crookneck squash to slice, sprinkle with salt, roll in cornmeal and fry.  There’s nothing quite as good as summer vegetables, except the cornbread that goes with them.

 

Mom was a good cook.  Just before Husband and I married she told me, “Here’s what you do.  Set the table every night.  Even if supper is leftovers, your family knows that you’re making supper.  And serve hot bread.”   Mom’s bread was usually cornbread.  When I was about 9 years old, making cornbread was my supper chore.  Two cups of Martha White self-rising cornmeal, one beaten egg, and enough buttermilk to make the batter just right.  Stir with a wooden spoon.

 

Mom’s cornbread skillet didn’t have a handle – it had broken off.  That skillet was used only for baking cornbread.  She turned the oven to 425° F, put a couple of spoonfuls of bacon grease in the skillet, and both skillet and grease got hot while I stirred the batter.  Mom poured about half of the hot grease into the cornbread batter, and I gave it one last stir and dumped it into the hot skillet.  But my chore wasn’t done.  The cornbread bowl had to be washed immediately.  If not, the batter dried and stuck like glue to the bowl.  More than once, I didn’t wash the bowl and after supper, Mom washed the dishes and I dried them, and then I had to scrub the cornbread bowl.

 

The cornbread baked for twenty minutes and came out of the oven with a golden brown crust just as Mom called Dad, my brother, and me to the supper table.  She turned the bread onto a dinner plate and it was the only food we were allowed to have on our plates before the prayer.  Mom cut the cornbread into wedges, put a piece on everyone’s plate, and we slathered it with butter, then Dad said the blessing.  Sometimes I’d eat my first piece of cornbread before even filling my plate with meat and vegetables.  And if I didn’t like anything else for supper, I’d fill up on cornbread and milk.

 

Mom’s cornbread recipe never changed, but sometimes she fried hoecakes and sometimes she baked corn sticks and muffins.  On hot summer days when she didn’t want the oven heat, she dropped spoonfuls of the batter into a black skillet on top of the stove and fried hoecakes.  My favorite was the corn sticks.  Thin, crunchy sticks of cornbread with browned crust with every bite.   I didn’t keep up with Mom’s cornbread skillet, but I have the black iron corn stick and muffin pans.

 

I made Mom’s basic cornbread recipe for years.  Then I discovered Corn Light Bread, made with cornmeal, flour, sugar, buttermilk, and an egg.  Sweet, finer textured cornbread.  When my Grand, Louise, was four years old, she proclaimed it, “The best bread ever!”  She may be right.

 

I know that there are many cornbread recipes, and that’s a column for another day. Right now, I’ve got a mess of Roma green beans cooking, squash ready to fry, and I’m stirring up some of the best bread ever to bake in Mom’s corn stick and muffin pans.  A fine summertime supper.

 

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One Response

  1. I was waiting for the “have to wash the bowl right away” part, and there it was. Also, I wish I still followed your mother’s advice!

    Like

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