Now that the blog is up and running again, the time has come for a new post.
We had some friends visit last week, and I made batches and batches of hummus to keep handy for snacking. Realizing I’m running low on preserved lemons from making all that hummus, I put up a new batch tonight. Fun opportunity to get out the camera – so long as I keep the salt out of it.
I was making cornbread, again.
Back in the late 90s, when I was in grad school and living on the coast, I asked my grandmother to write down her recipe for cornbread. Her cornbread… well, it never lasted in the house. And the cornbread dressing she made. Goodness.
When I asked her to write down the recipe – so I could reproduce it in my tiny Broad St. apartment – she said “I’m not entirely sure I can; I just make it.” And with that statement, she began one of the best afternoons I ever spent with her.
In my remembering, it’s laughter and stories. Places to get good corn meal, where to get the real flour (she meant locally milled, in Columbia) and who brought what dish to Thanksgiving and Easter when.
We worked together, in her kitchen, to measure and document what she did. And that making and measuring and cooking – it’s one of my fondest memories. On the written “recipe,” there are still places where you use “1 1/4C to 1 1/2C milk… depending” or “1/3-1/2” of something. Again, depending. Depending on what, well… depending. And only years later did we figure out that by “milk,” she meant the local, farm milk. Closest equivalent? Half and half, else the bread crumbles too much.
And the teaspoon of sugar? I never knew she put sugar in the cornbread. Grandmother explained that she doesn’t add sugar, unless company is coming. Some folks expect it…. again, depending.
We sat at her kitchen table, she and I, looking at our notes and nibbling warm cornbread & fresh butter. And using those notes, she grabbed a 3×5 card and wrote out her best guidelines for Grandmother’s Corn Bread. And I’m so happy she did.
Grandmother has been gone a long time now, and much of my cooking I owe to her. I keep meaning to frame the card, but then – like much of the knowledge she gave me – I use it so often….
Must be getting ready for Fall. Cooler temps coming this weekend, apple picking… time to make some chili. And if you’re going to make chili, might as well top it with cornbread.
All shots: Canon 7d | ISO 3200 | 50mm | f/1.8 thru 4.5 | 1/125 thru 500
Shakshouka – very North African, and quite wonderful. The leftovers make a great breakfast too.
After a dark and stormy the other night, I got to thinking about the ones we used to make in Charleston… back in grad school when we were so poor all we had to eat was shrimp, crab, and the occasional flounder. We had to go catch said food in the creeks, but that’s a story for another time.
We lived in this tiny little apartment behind a house on Broad St. in the historic district, and we had a neighbor – retired Navy – who made his own ginger beer using fresh ginger, brown sugar, fresh lemons, and a little champagne yeast. He was wealthy enough to own a house on Broad Street, but he preferred freshly caught seafood over anything he could buy at the market. We’d trade him a bucket of shrimp or two dozen blue crab for stories over the ginger beer and rum drinks he’d make. I’d never had a dark and stormy before those, and I’ve not had one to match the quality since. Maybe it’s the memory of drinks consumed with stories told on wide porches in historic Charleston, or maybe the home made ginger beer just made that much difference…. We’ll soon know.
I combined several methods/recipes found online to make a batch tonight – my first attempt. We’ll know by the weekend whether or not I was successful.