Monday, March 07, 2005

As Old As Corn Itself

Back in college, when I unexpectedly had the urge to eat foods prepared in something other then a microwave, my mom gave me Bob Sloan’s Dad’s Own Cookbook: Everything Your Mother Never Taught You. While the cookbook doesn’t stray from the staples (“Many recipes here are familiar,” Sloan writes in the introduction, “[T]hey are favorite foods of your childhood, so they’re bound to be hits with your kids.”) and assumes that users of it are culinary dolts (the recipe for scrambled eggs, for example, begins: Break the eggs into a medium bowl and beat with a whisk) there have been times when Cathy has found it surprisingly worthy of her own high culinary standards. One of our favorite recipes, found in its Bread Basics chapter, is the one for cornbread, which when accompanied by bowl of chili has been one of our most enduring comfort-food meals. Here it is:

Ingreedients (makes twenty pieces)
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter, plus extra greasing for the pan
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 2/3 cups milk
2 large eggs

1. Preheat the over to 350 F. Grease a 9 1/2 x 12 1/2 –inch baking pan with butter.
2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
3. Use a whisk to combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
4. Whisk together the milk, eggs, and the melted butter in a medium bowl. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and blend wall with a wooden spoon until all the flour mixture is incorporated. the batter should be very moist but not runny.
5. Use a rubber spatula to transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan and spread the batter evenly over the whole pan.
6. Bake the break on the center rack of the oven until it is set (i.e., doesn’t wiggle in the middle) and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 12 minutes.
7. Let the bread cool on a rack in the pan for 20 minutes before cutting 20 squares.

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