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Cornmeal and Water Breads
Cornmeal as a Staple
The holidays are almost upon us, and I wanted to stress that cornmeal has such a number of uses that we can incorporate into our celebrations. I grew up with cornmeal mush and loved it, but only had it one way, as that’s what there was. Now, there are so many other things that it can be used for, so let me introduce you to cornmeal and show you the wonderful uses that it has. Enjoy each and every one of these old recipes, as they are all truly a blast from the past. These will easily take you back to the 1800’s, where you can recall your history when there were general stores. The ingredients were in 50 pound sacks and the storekeeper would weigh out your meal and flours. Then you’d hop in the wagon pulled by your horse, and take that bumpy ride back home.
Corn Pone (AKA Johnnycakes, Hoecakes, or Flatbread)
Moisten 2 cups dry cornmeal with ½ cup cool water. Heat 2 cups of water with salt to taste, and bring it to a boil. Add about 3 tablespoons shortening to water if you have it and want to use it. Combine the cornmeal and boiling water, stirring constantly. Let stand covered, until it cools down sufficiently in order to work with it. Form into your shapes for cooking. Lay a dozen or so cakes on greased pan to bake, or even a frying pan. It takes a half hour or a little better in a 350 degree F oven. It takes a bit of work to eat, as it isn’t very soft. Serve with hot gravy or melted butter over it, and that will soften it up.
Pour 1 ½ cups boiling water over one cup dry cornmeal. Add ¼ cup melted butter. Stir in 1 ½ cups buttermilk. Separate 2 eggs and stir in yolks. Sift 1 cup flour with 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt. Blend dry ingredients into cornmeal mixture. Beat left over egg whites and fold them into batter. Bake in waffle iron until crisp and brown. These are very light and wonderful.
Vegan Corn and Wheat Bread
Combine one cup each dry cornmeal and whole wheat flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, and one teaspoon cinnamon OR a pinch of oregano with ½ teaspoon chili powder. Mix all together. Then stir a tablespoon honey in 1 ½ cups warm water. Now stir the honey-water mixture into dry ingredients until just mixed. Bake in non-stick pan 20 minutes or so at 375 degrees F.
Scald 2 cups milk, then add ½ cup cornmeal. Cook these together until thick. Add a teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon baking powder, and 2 tablespoons each melted butter and sugar. Beat the yolks of 3 separated eggs and add to cornmeal mixture. Let cool a bit while you’re beating the 3 egg whites to soft peaks, then fold the beaten whites into your batter. Pour into well-buttered 1 ½ quart casserole. Bake 30-45 minutes at 375 degrees F, or until golden brown and puffed like a soufflé.
These are truly wonderful pieces of Americana at its best. We didn’t have to live during the hardships of the 1800’s, but we can sure benefit from the recipes and how these wonderful foods were made then.