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
2 eggs
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.


Debbie said...

I read in our local paper about a man who stumbled upon an abandoned mill on some property he was buying. He has since gotten it up and running and is grinding cornmeal. I've been meaning to ride out there some Saturday(the only time he's open) and pick some up. I will do it!!

Margie Haack said...

Hooo! Debbie, I'd love to go with you. It'd be interesting to ask him how long cornmeal stays fresh and whether freezing it is okay, as I do.

Jenny Poley said...

I had to laugh at the comment "...and WHAT does cast iron have to do with L'ABRI???" because I found it a relief to hear about cast iron at L'Abri. What you said at the start of the workshop just really blessed me. You mentioned that we have mundane areas in our lives, but that Jesus is there in the mundane with us. Cooking, as it occurs everyday, can be mundane; however, I came out of the workshop thinking about how I can bless my family with creativity, healthy cooking, and knowing that Jesus is in my kitchen.

Maybe the person who made that comment just doesn't know Jesus is in his kitchen. ha, ha, ha...

All of that to say-the workshop was awesome, and I got the very last bite of cornbread. Even after sitting in the pan for a bit, it was AMAZING!

Thanks for the workshop, and the links to Cast Iron Dude. I am already starting my collection...;)

kate o. said...

so, did you confront the person in the hall who asked such a crazy question?

as a mom of young ones where the mundane often rules, i have to hold quotes like that one from kuyper close to my heart or else i'd go crazy in the head. ;)

Margie Haack said...

Jean, kate, loved your comments. I understand the question. So many of us lived with or are still living with that split that is not found in Scripture - that there are the things that count - the "spiritual/eternal" versus the physical/temporal. The latter being of less or even questionable value. The stunning beauty of God's truth is that wiping my baby's stinky bottom is every bit as pleasing to him as me translating the gospel into whatever. (I know you know this, but thanks for letting me say it.) It remains one of the reasons why I love Christ and Christianity so much.

whispers of beauty said...

love love love it!!!

ah, those dutch calvinists aren't too bad!

Also, has the person who made that comment ever been to l'abri? all they did when i was there was talk about cast iron pans! well...sort of.

sigh, how i wish i could make and eat cornbread, with lots of honey butter, with you right now and talk about the universe and everything!

Jill said...

LOVE it.. love the post, love cornbread AND love my new cast iron skillet. Been looking for along time for one and finally bit the bullet. A spendy little flame orange Le Crueset skillet. My first attempt of anything in it, eggs, sunny side up didn't turn out so well. Don't think I added enough oil to it first- will probably stick to my teflon for those. But can't wait to try this recipe! Did Grandma make 'Johnny Cake' for you all growing up? My mom did and my brood sure like it too.

Travis said...

So this is a bit off topic, but according to Stephen King the road to hell is actually paved with adverbs, not good intentions.

Margie Haack said...

Trav, I barely, hardly ever use adverbs, so I'm safely protected.

Jill, I don't have much experience with Le Crueset would like to know if, in fact, they work as well. Mom (Grandma) always used to make it in 9/13 pan and we had it for breakfast with maple syrup. mmmm.

Wee Allison. ahhh, I miss your fabulous scones, but I miss you more, please come back. Forget Scotland and bring him, too.

andrea said...

Mmmmm- Mom is right there with you when it comes to cast iron. She has a similar recipe for corn bread- she uses bacon fat (I think that was before Maggie got on her super strict diet...). So delicious!

Stephen Baldwin said...

Ah Cornbread. With a couple of variations upon your recipe this was one of the little items Karen used to show me love when she was a mere whelp of a girl and I was clueless as to what a gift she had...and was.

And it was baked in a black, iron skillet.

Will something become contorted in the cyberspace if I cross-comment here?

I was reading Notes this morning and was once more moved to thank God for your heart, my friend. In your words and stories I find refreshment for my soul.

Thank you. Come soon for dinner at our house. Bring Anita and Denis.

John Eddy said...

2 different kinds of Honey?

Margie Haack said...

John, sharp eyes. Yes. One is a locally produced honey from Minnesota and the other, Tupelo honey from Florida where they claim to have the best honey in the world. Good, but possibly wasted on me.

Jeremy said...

Okay, Margie, the cornbread has been eaten. What's next?

Margie Haack said...

Jeremy, right. Tomorrow. Fragrant Morroccan Beef, Date, Honey, Prune Tagine. You can't wait.

Hannah said...

Made this recipe last night, roasting the cornmeal first a la Cook's Country's recipe. A hit with lamb stew and pomegranate seeds in yogurt.

Margie Haack said...

Oh, my, Hannah, it sounds wonderful.