Friday, February 19, 2010
Cornbread an ordinary delight
Last weekend at the Rochester L'Abri Conference I promised that I’d begin putting up all the recipes I mentioned in my workshop. So over the next couple months I plan to get several up per week. Of course I’m already remiss, since an entire week has gone by. And DON’T anyone remind me that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I KNOW that. You see how quickly I get all hostile and you’re probably thinking, Lady, no one said or thought anything so back off and just post the recipes. And please put that frying pan down. Okay.
But I should first say this, as I overheard someone in the hall at the conference saying, “…..and WHAT does cast iron have to DO with L’ABRI???” Like there wasn’t anything obviously Christian or cerebral about my workshop which was titled “Cast Iron Rises Again: 90 Days of Cooking with a Favorite Partner.” It does seem a little lengthy and cumbersome, yes. And not as intriguing as Jerram Barrs’ (who I love unequivocally) “God’s Law and our Renewal in the Image of God.” But I could say my workshop was the heaviest of the entire weekend. (I brought all my cookware – I wanted people to feel it – in a suitcase on rollers. Denis thought the wheels would collapse. He’s such the pessimist. I said be glad we’re local and I don’t need to pull this through security at an airport – I'd probably still be there.)
So, to begin this series, I need to remind everyone of what Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch theologian and statesman, said in a kind of manifesto: “There’s not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine, this belongs to me.’”
That’s all of created reality. It's a powerful truth – that Christ isn’t confined. His kingdom isn’t just church and reading the Bible and me being pious. His is a cosmic kingdom. In all areas of life, in every legitimate vocation, we can live with zest and the knowledge that it, too, is serving the Lord, demonstrating the Gospel.
That would include cooking with cast iron, wouldn’t it? I celebrate it.
For a lot of people cornbread is a wicked, throat-plugging experience, but this is a tender, moist, crispy-edged accompaniment to any meal. Once, as I prepared this simple recipe to accompany a pot of chili and beans, Greg, a friend from southern Alabama, watched as he waited for supper. I put a tablespoon of butter in a cast iron skillet and placed it in a hot oven until the butter sizzled. I swirled it around, poured in the batter, and returned it to the oven. Greg’s eyes widened as he exclaimed, “My grandmother used to do it just like that! Only she used pork drippings!” I took it as a compliment. Eaten warm and drizzled with honey, it adds soul to almost any supper. I highly recommend using an organic source of cornmeal and not the stale one that’s been sitting on your shelf for five years.
1 cup flour
1 cup corn meal
4 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup melted butter, or cooking oil
¼ cup honey (or substitute ½ cup sugar)
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
In a separate container, whisk together eggs, milk, and butter. Add to dry ingredients and whisk just until smooth. Don’t overbeat.
Place 1 tablespoon of butter in an 8 or 9 inch pan or preferably a cast iron skillet. Place in hot oven until butter begins to bubble. Pour in batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until done in center. Serve with butter and honey or jam. Note: using fresh organic products boosts flavor.