I made some cornbread today... something I've never made too often, but always liked. Mike says he doesn't care for it, but he'll get another chance to change his mind tonight - heh. Southern cornbread doesn't have any sweetener in it. When I've gotten it at restaurants here in the South, it's either unsweet and bone dry like sawdust or sweet and sticky like cake. Ugh. Good cornbread is crisp on the outside and moist on the inside and not sweet!
Mike and I buy organic cornmeal from an old fella who sells it on the side of the road from corn he grew himself. He's trying to raise money for college for his 14-year-old granddaughter - who had a horrible accident several years ago. She was taking money from a customer when the wind blew it up to the corn grinder - a huge machine. Her grandfather had told her to never go near it because it was dangerous, but she was trying to help and climbed up next to it when he wasn't looking. When she leaned over to pick up the money, the grinder grabbed her hair and pulled most of her face and hair off. It was a miracle she lived, but after quite a few operations, she's okay but looks like an extreme burn victim on her head and face. Mike fell in love with her and we stop to buy the cornmeal and fresh eggs from him when we can. She's a little shy now because some people stare at her, but Mike flirts and makes her smile.
His cornmeal is the best and today I wanted to make some cornbread to go with the soup I made (and harissa to go with the soup). Here is the simple-as-can-be recipe the grandfather gives to his cornmeal customers:
1 1/2 cups finely ground white corn meal
1/2 cup flour (gluten-free, whole wheat pastry, etc.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg or egg substitute
1 1/2 buttermilk, milk or rice, almond or soy milk
1/4 cup oil
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put oil in an 8" cast iron skillet (or other cast iron pans like I used above if you have them) and put in the oven for five minutes or until it's hot.
2. Put the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a large mixing bowl and mix well.
3. Add the egg to the buttermilk and mix. Then pour into the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour the oil from the hot skillet into the batter and mix in.
4. Pour the batter into the hot iron skillet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Like I said, it's as simple as can be and it turned out crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. With butter or a butter substitute, it's like most breads... awesomly good right after coming out of the oven.