Saturday, September 29, 2012


Very delicious, if I do say so myself 
Quite awhile ago, probably last winter, I had a request to share how I make cornbread.  Today is rainy, overcast and cool (fall is finally on the way!), which puts me in mind of soup weather, and cornbread is very good with soup.  So this seems like a good time to share.  

Now through the years I've eaten many varieties of cornbread, from golden brown little soft squares served in cafeterias, to the sweet cake-like cornbread of the Cayman Islands, to crunchy corncob-shaped pone.  And I grew up eating cornbread, mostly my grandmother's, which was the best.  However, mine is not exactly like hers because when I was grown and married, the recipe I happened to find and start using was from the 1977 edition of Tea Time at the Masters, a cookbook from the Junior League of Augusta, Georgia.  My recipe has a little bit of sweet to it, while my grandmother's did not (and my mom still prefers hers).  If I get ahold of her recipe, I'll pass it along.  In the meantime, my cornbread is still delicious and worth trying;)

To make good cornbread first assemble your ingredients.
You will need sugar, cornmeal (white or yellow, I've used both -- whatever you have), all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, an egg (beaten), milk, oil, and plain yogurt (sour cream is what the actual recipe calls for, but yogurt works fine).

And don't forget THIS, which is the secret to a good crust on the cornbread:
Bacon Grease
If you are not the type of person who has bacon grease stored in your refrigerator (like I am:), you need to become one.  Go out and buy some bacon and fry it up, pouring the grease into a coffee mug.  Store it in the refrigerator -- it will keep indefinitely.  There will be more than enough to use for the cornbread.  (You can also rub it on the outsides of baking potatoes, sprinkle them with coarse salt, poke holes in them with a fork and bake at 400 degrees for one hour -- but that's another recipe.)

You also need a cast-iron skillet, about 8 inches in diameter.

Put a dollop of bacon grease into the skillet, just enough to coat the bottom of the skillet.
Blurry, but you can see about how much to add
Put the skillet into the oven, and turn the oven on to:

Leave the skillet in the oven until the grease has melted, then take it out of the oven and set it on the stovetop:

Meanwhile, mix up your ingredients (I just do it by hand, no need to get the mixer out).

Pour the batter (which is fairly thick) into the skillet.  It will look like this:

Put it into your preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until the middle is cooked through.
Doesn't it look beautifully crusty?
Now comes the fun part.  Take your skillet and flip the cornbread over onto a plate.

Hopefully it comes out looking like this:

If your cornbread sticks in the skillet, it will be messy but still taste good.  Go ahead and eat it.  It just means your skillet needs to be seasoned a little.  You can read up on how to do that yourself, but it's easy.  Basically, just grease your skillet down and warm it in the oven for a little while.  Take it out and let it cool.  Then wipe down with a paper towel and put away until next time.

I slice my cornbread up into 8 pieces to keep everything fair here at my house.
Another blurry shot

I usually make two cornbreads because of my large family. And now that I have another 8-inch cast-iron skillet, I can make two at the same time.  You can butter it or not, and it goes well with vegetable type soups and bean soups, too.

If you have any left over, my very favorite way to eat cornbread is to crumble it up into a mug, pour milk on top and eat with a spoon.  Mmmmm!  That was something my paternal grandfather loved, and then me, and now my daughter:)
Great for breakfast the next morning
Here's the recipe in an easy-to-write-down form.

Sour Cream (or Yogurt) Corn Bread

3/4 cup corn meal (yellow or white)
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbs. vegetable oil

Mix all ingredients just enough to blend well.  Pour in a greased 8-inch square (or round) pan.  Bake at 425 ºF for 20-25 minutes.  8 pieces.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Moving Forward into Fall

Happy Fall!

Well, I have spent the past month being stymied in my attempts to figure out the resizing and uploading from iphoto thing.  Something that should be straightforward is definitely not (at least it is not explained anywhere that I can find).  I did manage (finally!) to resize the above picture.  I did a batch of pictures, resized them and put them in a folder under the picture icon.  So far, so good.  But when I went to "choose" them, their little icons were about as big as the capital I that began the previous sentence.  Not very helpful.  I just accidentally happened to choose the right photo this time.  No way to actually browse a photo because I can barely even see it.  Sigh..........back to the drawing board.

Anyway, I have missed my online community and will be catching up with you all over the next little bit.

I made the above wreath from a thrifted grapevine wreath, some berries and grassy stuff from Hobby Lobby, and some "gifted" feathers that my visitors from earlier in the year left in my yard:)  This is my small attempt towards seasonal decorating that Cheryl recommended last October in her series "31 Days to Make a House a Home."  Very helpful stuff, and you can find the series here.

It is actually a little difficult to even conceive of fall right now.  Our temperatures are still in the nineties (yes, I said "nineties"), and it's been so long since it has rained I've almost forgotten what that is, too.  August and this year September as well are what I think are called the "dog days of summer."  In Texas it gets so hot and dry, every plant shrivels up and hunkers down, waiting for relief.  Thoughts of flowers are long gone.  My garden is all dried up, and I should be thinking of a fall garden, but it's too hot to even have the energy to plan it out right now.  On top of that, we have been in the midst of a West Nile virus outbreak this summer, so you can't even go outside in the evening without being slathered down in bug spray.

I did want to do a little recap of my garden.  Successes (meaning we got some produce to eat): lettuces, onions, zucchini, potatoes, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes (I'd give them a "C").  Failures:  sweet potatoes, peanuts, green beans, lima beans, peppers, melons, garlic.   We have now eaten all the potatoes, but I still have some onions left, and I have corn and zucchini in the freezer.

I really enjoyed working in the garden and putting up food these past few months.  I'm pretty confident I made enough jam to last us until next year:)  In fact, I am probably going to ask for a proper canner for Christmas.  My husband won't understand it, but maybe you will.