My guest blog today is provided by Catie Rhodes (@catie_rhodes), a fellow Texan who blogs at http://catierhodes.com – and a fellow food appreciator. She shares a family secret passed to her from her grandmother.
In Texas, food is a big deal. It’s life, love, family, tradition, and comfort. For some Texans, barbecue is the hallmark of family and comfort. In my family, comfort was my Mamaw’s hot tamales. Scratch that. Comfort was anything I ate at Mamaw’s.
My mother is the most tolerant, kind, and supportive woman in the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother. Mom doesn’t like to cook, though. Not even a little bit. When I was very small, I asked Mamaw if she would teach me how to cook. And she did.
I was so short, Mamaw had to put a stool in front of the stove so I could reach the pots and pans. It was over that stove that I learned the fundamentals of cooking. Mamaw had this tin can of grease she used to flavor food. That grease went in just about everything we cooked.
My Papaw was a picky eater. It became my job to cook his breakfast. Papaw’s breakfast was a sandwich. It consisted of an omelet (fried in grease) with cheese melted over it, three slices of fried bologna, and two slices of butter-grilled bread. And it had to have so much mayonnaise on it that it squished when Papaw took a bite. I was so proud to master the making of this sandwich.
Now, I’m looking at forty. Mamaw is in her late 80s. Life seems so very short. I don’t see Mamaw as much as I’d like, but I think of her every time I cook something good.
What I really learned from Mamaw about cooking is to never be afraid to try. That lesson can be applied to so many things in life.
With all that said, I’d like to share my cornbread recipe. I learned how to do this because I wasn’t afraid to try.
Catie’s Onion Cornbread
1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 tbsp onion powder
2/3 cup milk or buttermilk (if batter is too thick, add more)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tbsp melted bacon grease
8 in. prepared* cast iron skillet or cake pan (I use the cast iron skillet)
*A Prepared Skillet:
Take a little more of that bacon grease (or any kind of oil) and coat your pan with a thin layer of it.
Mmmm…bacon grease is good:
This is what it should look like when you’re done:
Heat prepared pan for about 8 minutes in the oven. I do this while the oven preheats. The skillet should be hot enough that when you pour in the corn bread batter, it sizzles like something frying. If it doesn’t sizzle, your cornbread won’t be like the kind that comes out of my kitchen.
Preheat your oven to 450º F.
Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Beat with a fork until smooth.
Note: The batter should have a texture somewhat like a thin pudding. It should be smooth and should pour by itself, but thick enough you’ll have to scrape the mixing bowl. If the batter is too thin, I add a little more cornmeal and onion powder. If it’s too thick, I add more milk or buttermilk.
Pour the batter into your pan, and revel in that sizzle. That sizzle is the first step to awesome cornbread.
Stick the pan into the oven and cook at 450º F until brown on top. This usually takes about 17-20 minutes in my kitchen. Keep an eye on it, though. Cornbread tastes terrible when it’s burned.
Check doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the cornbread. If that toothpick comes out clean, you’re ready to ring the dinner bell.
What recipe do you cook the "hard" way? Why is it worth it? Or…who taught you how to cook?