Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mama's Cornbread

Don't you want some cornbread? I thought so. Every southern food book I've ever read (and that has been a few, believe me) shares memories of their mama's cornbread. In the south, cornbread usually means unsweetened cornbread baked in a sizzling hot skillet. Super sweet cornbread baked in a pyrex pan was cake not cornbread. If my Mamaw had set a plate of that down in front of my Papaw he would have thrown it out to his hound dog. No offense to lovers of yankee cornbread but "real" cornbread is a serious thing in the south, impostors could be shot!
My Mama is famous for her cornbread. I love love love it and must have it at least once a week. Her crispy, buttery cornbread is one of the only things I have a deep craving for year round. It goes with everything, beans, soup, salad, butter, anything really. I make it for breakfast sometimes and there is never a crumb left. Now I make two pans of it so everyone can have plenty. Made with fresh ground cornmeal and flour, you can't beat it for a healthy quick bread.
I will now ask my Mama to look aside while I tell you that I have slightly modified her recipe to fit my cooking so it's not her exact recipe. Honey instead of sugar, fewer eggs and less butter. Okay Mama, you can look back. So get out your skillet and let's make a pan (pone as Mamaw used to call it) of cornbread.

The first step is to preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Set your iron skillet in there to heat up too. A hot skillet is the secret to good crusty cornbread. Measure a cup of flour, cup of cornmeal, 1 tablespoon baking powder and a teaspoon of salt into a large bowl. Stir it to mix all your dry ingredients together.

Enlist a handy kid to mix up 1 and 1/4 cup of milk, 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon of honey in a measuring cup or small bowl. If there are no handy kids, just beat it together yourself. All the same and you probably have cleaner hands. I hope so anyway.

When your oven and iron skillet are good and hot, set the skillet out on your stove and melt 2 tablespoons of real butter in it (Don't you like my square pan? It was Grandma's.). Pour the wet mixture into the dry and give it a few stirs, then pour the melted butter quickly into the batter. Stir it up to mix the butter in. Be sure to not burn yourself with the skillet, it's super hot! Pour the batter into the skillet.

Can you see what's happening? Look at the edge of the skillet and see how the batter is foaming up. It is searing in the hot skillet and that is what gives you the magical golden crust. Bake it for 20 minutes in your hot oven and then flip it out onto a big platter. Flipping it out of the pan is a bit of a trick, I still catch myself holding my breath every time I turn do it. Just have faith and go for it.

Then all that's left is to cut it up and serve wedges or squares of hot golden goodness to all the lucky people sitting around your table. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chocolatey Honey Fudge

It's been a while since I posted a recipe, I've been cooking, believe me there's no getting around cooking at our cozy little house. What I haven't been doing is taking photographs or having a spare ounce of energy to post a recipe. We have had various illnesses going around, croup, ear infections, colds, strep throat, yikes! Once someone picks up a bug it takes a while to work through all six chickadees. This has resulted in one tired mama and a serious need for chocolate. Not serious enough to get me to pack up everyone and go buy some, my sweet husband treated me to a luscious chocolate bar when he was picking up medicine, but enough of a craving to hunt up a new fudge recipe on (three cheers for
Another development has been a gradual elimination of refined sugar in our diet. Gulp...did I just type that? Moi, lover of brown sugar in my oatmeal and a thick crust of cinnamony-sugar on my toast? We have almost entirely converted to raw honey and grade B maple syrup. Both are perfectly delicious and I have had good results using them in some of my favorite recipes. Fudge however is one of those things that needs sugar to set up properly. Cooked fudge that is.
This fudge needs neither cooking or sugar and let me tell you, it's fabulous! Check out this recipe: Stir together one cup of room temperature coconut oil, one cup of regular cocoa and one half cup of raw honey. When it is smooth, pour it into a foil lined pan and chill for an hour or two. Cut it into small squares, (it's very rich) and enjoy. Did you miss the part about candy thermometers? Boiling? Beating? Oh yeah, it's not in there! Just measure, mix and chill.
We are halfway through a batch and it's going fast. Next time I may mix in some chopped pecan and some dried cherries like my mom does in her famous Chocolate Fudge. Really anything you like in your fudge would be amazing in this, cashews, walnuts, dried cranberries and macadamia nuts, a spoonful of peanut butter, a drizzle of white chocolate. Just use your imagination! Oh, and send me some. Please?

Sunday, March 20, 2011


We went for a hike this weekend, a blissful two mile hike around a lake near our house. It was the little ones first hike and I think it was duly enjoyed by them.

Along the way we found several different kinds of wildflowers.

Brave little things to venture out so soon in the year, it's only March.

But then, our March is proving to be quite warm. A balmy 73 degrees and I can't say that I'm complaining about it. Yeah for spring!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Photo

Baby feet. Almost nine-month old baby feet. Look at those chubby toes and plump little legs. Her thighs are even more glorious. Sweet Babe is adored by one and all at our house. Her every feat is greeted with cheers, smiles, applause, hugs and kisses. What fun to have five big siblings to make over you and love on you every waking moment and some sleeping moments. Now that she is on the move we keep finding strange little messes. Leaves pulled of a houseplant, potting soil scattered on the carpet, paper dumped out of the schoolroom trashcan, a book cover suspiciously wet, a little trail of exploration. It makes this tired Mama smile as she sweeps up the dirt and picks up old drawings with "tasted" corners, thinking of her discovering her home in all it's wonder. From down there everything looks big and amazing. Happy exploring to you this weekend!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Photo

Busyness and general daily chaos had seriously side-railed any creative energy around here lately. Sick chickadees and sick mama, long school days, starting a big reading project and the everyday routine of cooking, cleaning and laundry sapped any idea of sewing or creating. Enter a fun new blog called Stitch Rabbit and my brain is reeling with inspiration and ideas. Yesterday, produced two new headbands for myself and a finished dress with matching headband for Big Sister. On queue for today is a bag for moi and maybe some pillow covers. I love making things! What are you making?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pantry Cooking: Mirepoix

Mirepoix. Now doesn't that sound fancy? The word is fancy, French always sounds elegant. I have an enduring obsession with all things French so I'm always happy when I cook a recipe with a mirepoix. And what you see in this photo is exactly that. Fancy isn't it?
A mirepoix is a mixture of chopped vegetables that you saute for a sauce. It always includes onion, carrot and celery. Of course, you can add other things like garlic and bell pepper, even a jalapeno pepper for a Mexican dish. This particular mirepoix was destined for a luscious Bolognese sauce, great made with beef or mushrooms. I used to make a killer meat loaf that included this combination of vegetables plus a bell pepper. Countless soups have this for a base and it is fabulous added to a pot of beans when they are almost done. Just try adding a mirepoix into a dish for your supper and see if you don't love it too!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Friday Photo

My Mamaw was a lover of figurines. Porcelain, blown-glass, wooden, all kinds, shapes and sizes filled her bookshelves and window sills. They adorned her dresser and mantel. They overflowed to her greenhouse and the building we called the pump house though it didn't contain any pump I ever knew of. When she passed away I chose from her collection this small china angel that I always played with as a child. I love that it has her name, June, on it. This week it took a spill and the tip of her wing broke off. As I was inspecting the wing I noticed it had been glued in that same spot years ago by my Mamaw. It made me smile to think of her carefully repairing the little angel and gently setting her back in her spot after the glue dried. Maybe Papaw with his years of jewelry repair helped her fit it back together just so. He had a knack for fixing delicate things. So the sweet angel sits on my kitchen window sill patiently waiting for me to dig out my glue and re-attach her wing then gently set her back in her spot. I miss my Mamaw.