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?
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Oh my goodness! That looks so delicious. Definitely going to try it out. And I have a cast iron skillet too. 😀
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You make me wish I HAD learned to cook : ). It was always something I wanted to do more of, but the thing I put aside in favor of writing and reading when “life after work” didn’t allow for much else. It is never too late, though. My fondest “food memories” are my mom’s homemade lasagna and spaghetti sauce, which is simply the best in the world, and my great-grandmother’s homestyle country cooking in her little kitchen in West Virginia.
Yes, I am very blessed to have such a wonderful daughter.
Yes, your mamaw did a wonderful job teaching you to cook. I have enjoyed many of your meals and look forward to many more.
This is wonderful tribute to her.
Thanks for stopping by. Is that MoM as in Catie’s mother? Anyhow, thanks for your comments.
Hi Mom! When you come to visit next, we’ll cook instead of eat out. We had bbqed ribs this weekend. 😀 Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Love you.
Ok. This looks delicious. Thanks for this recipe.
Thanks for stopping by, Max. Let Catie know how it turns out.
I hope you do try it. Totally let me know how it turns out. Thanks reading and commenting. I just love comments. 😉
Oh, let me know what you think of the cornbread. It’s the only cornbread my husband likes. Thanks for stopping by. 😀
I’m like your mom, Catie. I hate to cook, but my own mother was a genius in the kitchen. And bacon grease and deep frying were a big part of our Texas fare. My father’s grandmother was also a cook for railroad crews way back when and passed down some amazing recipes. Your cornbread looks delicious!!!
Thanks for the visit, Julie. I think FOOD is important to us Texans.
Ooooh, would you ever be willing to share the railroad crew recipes? Something like that is such a cool thing to have. I think the love of cooking skips generations. The kid whose mom could cook usually hates cooking and vice-versa. Thanks so much for stopping by. 😀
You may have something there, Catie. My grandmother was a great cook. Mother was a good cook, but she didn’t really like doing it. I took over for her when I was in high school, and she took over my chore of weeding the flower beds, which I hated.
Thanks for stopping by, Ashley. Hope you enjoy the recipe.
The two recipes I get begged for more than any other are the Edible Crack frosting (listed on my site) and my Almond Roca. The Almond Roca is a serious chore because you have to use the certain pan, the certain brand of margarine and make it in the certain weather or it doesn’t work.
Hell, you can do all those things AND use a candy thermometer and it STILL might not work. Both these recipes take a long time to make, but they’re worth it. 🙂
Oooooh, I’m going to check out the frosting. My husband prefers fruit pie, so I make this double crust blueberry pie for him. Just once, though, I’d like to cook a wonderful cake with some awesome frosting on it.
Since you live in Southern California (where it’s dry), and I live in Southeast Texas (the capital of humidity), I doubt I could make the animal roca work, no matter what. Thanks for stopping by, though. 😀
What a beautiful story about your Mamaw teaching you to cook. And about feeding your Papaw breakfast. I can just picture you on your little stool. 🙂
Since I love cornbread, I’m going to print out your recipe and make it. Thanks for sharing it, Catie!
Thanks for visiting my website, Sheila, and for your comment. Hope you enjoy the cornbread.
I only know how to cook one thing well, pork chops. I can’t make them from scratch because, well, the city frowns on keeping pigs in the yard (although I could try hiding one in the basement). All the same, baking the chops in a nice “batter” of mushroom soup and onion powder, along with the all important breading (there is a term for this, but like I said, I can only cook one thing).
I literally lived off of these pork chops (and Mr. G’s potato chips, ‘nother story) for about six months in my early bachelor days.
Great post, Catie 🙂
Thanks for hosting her David. Nice site you have!
Thanks for you comments, Gene, both on the post and on the site. And I LUV pork chops.
It sounds like a great recipe. I’d love you to send the recipe sometime.
My husband is a big fan of pork chops. I usually cook them in the crock pot with 1 can cream of mushroom, 1 can cream of chicken, and 1 envelope lipton onion soup mix. He puts the results on a piece of bread. This is a huge treat for him. He’d totally be impressed if I learned a new pork chop recipe. 😀
Thanks for stopping by, Gene.
I know these pork chops, Gene, and they are good! Over brown rice, with some carmelized onions and covered in gravy they are even better. 🙂
First, David thank you for hosting Catie!
Second, Catie, thank you so much for sharing not only the wonderful relationship you have with your grandmother, but also her cornbread recipe. Food is a big deal in Texas, and cornbread is a must have item!
Thanks for your comment, Tiffany. When are you going to guest for me?
Girl, you hit it on the mark. Food is a BIG deal in Texas. I hope you try the cornbread recipe. I serve it with beans and collards. This is one of my husband’s favorite meals.
Thanks so much for stopping by. 😀
Because you “weren’t afraid to try” – that obviously is the way you’ve lived your life, Catie, and what a legacy to your Mamaw. Cool recipe.
Thanks for your comment, Patti. I agree.
Thanks, Patti. Mamaw isn’t afraid of anything or anybody. She has taught me so much…and not just about cooking. Thanks for commenting. 😀
Catie–I love that recipe, and especially that cast iron skillet. My Mammaw, who gets 3 m’s in her name :), had cast iron cookware at the farm. We also had a cast iron skillet–which I hated to wash–and a cast iron muffin pan plus a heavy gauge aluminum griddle where Mom made tortillas. All those items are gone now, replaced by Chinese-made gimcrackery that takes all the zen out of cooking, IMO.
One of these days I’ll get down to the Piney Woods and stop by for cornbread or whatever you’ve got cooking. You put so much of yourself into your cooking. Your husband and guests must make out like royalty! ;)TX
Thanks for your comment, Texanne. I think Catie probably puts all of herself into everything she does.
I’ve thought about getting one of those cast iron muffin pans! I see them all the time in antique stores. I would think the muffins you make in them would be sooooo good. I have this chocolate chip banana muffin recipe that’s out of this world.
There is nothing in the world like homemade tortillas. If you know how to make them, I’d love to hear your version. I occasionally make homemade corn tortillas, but I’ve never tried the flour ones.
If you ever get down this way, you’ve got to stop here to eat dinner. I’ll fix whatever you like. If you want to make a meal out of pintos, collards, and cornbread, we do that here. I don’t know if you’ll feel like royalty, but you’ll definitely feel full.
I get all my newer cast iron gear at Cracker Barrel or Bass Pro whenever I’m visiting family in the Midwest. 🙂
Thanks for visiting my site, Jenny, and for commenting on Catie’s blog. Your sweets-making sounds intriguing, but, sadly, we diabetics have to refrain.
David, thanks for hosting me and thanks for doing such a professional job on the blog. 😀
My honor, Catie. Glad the photos came through properly. Thanks again for guesting for me.
What a sweet story. I love that you were so close to your Mamaw growing up. That’s how Grace and Mom are. It’s a great gift to have. I was close to my Grandma to an extent, but once we moved away it was tough. As for cooking, I taught myself, but not because mom didn’t want to. I never wanted to learn when I was younger. I hated cooking and wanted to eat easy stuff. It’s only been in the last few years I’ve taken an interest in really cooking, more so since I lost weight.
Thanks, Stacy. Grandmothers are very special people. Hope my grandsons think grandfathers are, too.
Stacy, one of my big regrets is that I didn’t learn how to make Mamaw’s hot tamales. She made some great ones. Every year for Christmas, she made dozens of hot tamales and gave them away as gifts. After I helped her one year, I never wanted to do it again. Such hard work. I wish now I had learned because they were the best hot tamales I ever ate. She made them with wild game.
I guess I have over compensated for my mom’s dislike of cooking. Even when I’m eating alone, I’ll cook a good meal. My mom? She’d be satisfied eating a piece of bread with peanut butter smeared on it. 😀
Thanks so much for trekking over here. 😀
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Love cornbread. I really like the addition of bacon grease and onion. I’ll have to try that!
Bacon grease and onion help a lot of foods. Too bad the health-mongers have practically banned bacon grease from the planet.
Bacon grease will make your food taste heavenly. I also make gravy with it. I hope you do give the recipe a try. Thanks for commenting. 😀