Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cornbread

In my house cornbread is never sweet and is always made in an iron skillet. Just the way my mama made it.

Now, if you want to add sugar, corn, peppers, sausage, onion or cheese, I still may eat it but it's strayed from being cornbread and started taking on airs. Oh, and if there's any buttermilk or yogurt in the house, that's always used in the batter in preference to any other liquid such as milk. Though, if it's a poor month, water will work in a pinch.

Around here cornbread often serves as a kid-friendly extra or as a meal extender, stretching a few leftovers into a full meal. Plus everyone's always happy to see it on the table when they sit down to eat. Combine it with homemade preserves and it can serve as a between-meal snack, too.

Because corn grows in so many areas of the country, local cornmeal often can be found more readily than wheat flour. Besides nearby Wade's Mill, we have a couple of local folks who set up during the year to grind and sell cornmeal at local events such as the Virginia Fall Foliage Festival or sometimes under a tent on the fringe of a large parking lot sort of like the ubiquitous chicken barbeques -- serving as a fund-raiser or simply a way to make extra money. Since we have a grinder, I can prepare our cornmeal fresh as we need it. I like to use popcorn as it makes a hearty, good tasting cornmeal and is something we can grow ourselves.

Cornbread came to my menu-deprived mind again yesterday as I planned a late dinner that was more of the same garden fare we usually enjoy this time of year. We'd been on the go since early morning and wanted something quick and easy for supper. Preferably something that could cook as we showered and changed after the hot, tiring day. So I fixed a quick two-skillet meal that's one of DS's favorites: sweet salsa cabbage with ground venison and cornbread.

First I mixed up the cornbread and put it in the toaster oven to bake. My small iron skillet just fits in the little oven and lets me bake in the hot summer without heating up the house with the larger gas oven. The cornbread takes about 20 minutes to bake which is just enough time to get the main dish prepped and cooked.

The cabbage and venison dish is another variation on combining available vegetables with ground meat and adding a sauce. In this case I chopped onions and green cabbage from our garden as I browned the frozen ground venison in a tablespoon of oil. The venison was from a deer put in the freezer last fall. When we grind it for the freezer, it's all lean meat so needs just a bit of oil for cooking like this. And I package it in flattened three-quarter pound packages so it can be cooked right from the frozen state, no waiting for it to thaw.

I tossed the onions on top of the cooking meat and covered the pan with a lid while I finished chopping cabbage. The sauce was 2 cups hot salsa we'd put up out of the garden last year and 1/2 cup home-canned peach preserves made last year with fruit and honey from an orchard just over the mountain from us. I added a bit of salt and black pepper, stirring all the sauce ingredients together before pouring it over the now-combined cabbage, onions and venison in the pan. Put the lid back on and let it simmer on low while I grabbed a quick shower.

No real dessert necessary with this meal but we all enjoyed an extra slice of cornbread with some more of the peach preserves as a sweet finish to dinner. Another successful OLS meal and another meal elevated to something special by a pan of cornbread.

Cornbread

2 cups cornmeal
2 eggs
1-1/4 cups buttermilk or thinned yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter

Add the oil or butter to an 8-inch or 10-inch iron skillet and set in preheated 450ºF. oven while preparing rest of recipe.

Combine remaining ingredients in medium mixing bowl. Pour hot oil or melted butter from iron skillet into batter, stir quickly to blend then transfer to hot skillet for baking.

Bake 20 minutes at 450ºF.

4 comments:

Leigh said...

That's my kind of cornbread and my kind of summer cooking! (Found your blog via the Homesteading Webloggers Ring).

Carolyn said...

Thanks for the note, Leigh -- around here it's never too hot for a pan of cornbread especially when I can use the toaster oven. :-)

belovedsgarden said...

I need to get a toaster oven. I'm gonna have to try your recipe. Thanks, c

Walnut Spinney said...

Our toaster oven comes in handy, for sure. Let me know if you try the cornbread recipe -- it's a hearty bread with good crumb and lots of flavor, especially when made with just-ground corn.