Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cornbread

Maggie over at Maggie Reads asks the rhetorical question about whether or not a true Southerner eats the sweet concoction in the box labeled Jiffy Corn Bread Mix? (My answer for this is only in a casserole of some sort.) Maggie searched through a number of cookbooks looking for a Southern cornbread recipe. She came up with a couple of recipes, but even one of those has too much sugar in it for many a true Southerner. The other recipe works for those times you want a little spicier fare!

I actually have a true recipe for real Southern cornbread, but you'll have to suffer through the story of how I came to have such a recipe first! Many years ago (and I won't say how many) when I went to graduate school in Ohio, I was not going to be able to make it back to Mississippi for Thanksgiving. After suffering through white bread dressing with oysters at the home of some friends one year, I decided that I was making Thanksgiving dinner for a bunch of my other grad school friends who couldn't make it home. The only problem was that I didn't have a clue how Mom had made our traditional Thanksgiving dressing. I did what any girl would do. I called Mom and asked her to send me the recipe. (I called her in plenty of time that she could write the recipe out and send it by mail.) She, of course, did not have a written out recipe for the dressing but she told me what she put in it without amounts. My next question was "How do you make the cornbread?" I knew that it was in a cast iron skillet with cornmeal, but I had no clue of what else went in it besides buttermilk. Mom humored me though and she actually made it for a Sunday dinner when some of her family came so that she could try to measure her ingredients and get them all written out for me so that I would not have to endure another year of that inedible white bread oyster dressing concoction those "Yankees" served. Here is her recipe for cornbread:

2 cups yellow self-rising corn meal
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Mix all ingredients. Pour into a hot greased cast iron skillet (or if you are not making it for dressing you can use those wonderful corn stick pans that Maggie shows in her post). Bake at 450 degrees until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Now I should say that my Mom prefers the yellow self-rising corn meal from the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge or the kind they sell at the mill at Dollywood. Yes, this means that I take corn meal to Mississippi on a regular basis!

I also found a second time she sent me the cornbread recipe. In it, she'd changed her measurements slightly and added flour:

1 3/4 cup yellow self-rising corn meal
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Mix dry ingredients. Break eggs into dry ingredients. Add part of milk and beat well. Add enough milk to make a medium thin batter. Pour into a hot greased cast iron sksillet. Bake until done at 450 degrees.

Note: If your corn meal is not self-rising, add one more tsp. of baking powder and 1 tsp. salt. Some people do not use any baking powder with self-rising corn meal.

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5 Comments:

  • LOL! Lori, that sweet stuff I call Yankee Cornbread is something no self-respecting Southerner would eat!

    And I wish while you are at it, you'd teach our Northern friends that Hush Puppies are small --- those huge soft-ball-sized/cannonballs that they try to pass off as hush puppies are a joke! LOL! [Give em the recipe with beer in them.]

    TERRY

    By Blogger Terry Thornton, at 8:51 PM  

  • I love it!

    Quick story. My grandmother, Sweetheart, got all Yankafied one T-day and decided to make this oyster gravy. My grandfather, Papa, couldn't wait for the meal and stealthly snuck into the kitchen to taste test. Suddenly we heard him spitting and running water over his tongue, plus a few choice words!

    Every year since, Sweetheart makes the traditonal gravy and the fancy stuff. AND, every year Papa - when asking to pass the gravy - preface his request with, "Not the one with the rubber balls!" ;D

    Thanks so much for providing the missing recipe link. I'll point readers your way. :)

    By Blogger Maggie, at 10:37 PM  

  • From this Yankee who makes cornbread "proper" (not sweet):

    I'll never forget the time I was cooking a friend chicken dinner at church for about 50 hungry choir members (we were doing a joint event between two churches). One of my assistants wanted something to do so I said "make the cornbread."

    Well, being a "proper" Southerner he assumed the flour was self-rising which it was not. He produced some of the flatest cornbread north of the Mason-Dixon line. But only the first batch - we caught the problem and rectified it.

    Luckily here in Chicago, I can get all sorts of items such as self-rising flour and my favporite: ro-tel. But alas, Duke's mayonnaise is hard to find.

    By Blogger Thomas MacEntee, at 3:10 AM  

  • Lori, I came over from Maggies--as the one who started the new cornbread battle with a tale about a guy named cornbread, then a post of my own cornbread recipe (which varies everytime I make it). I am a true son of the South, alhtough I've spent the bulk of my adult life either out west or up north (I'm now in Michigan, God save our souls). As southerners, we also ate oyster stuffing at Thanksgiving (fresh oysters were had too) as I grew up in Coastal Carolina and the season oyster season would just be beginning at Thanksgiving... I have a recipe posted for hushpuppies too, back in my archives.

    By Blogger sage, at 10:46 AM  

  • Great story! (came over from Maggie's).

    By Blogger Diane, at 5:27 PM  

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