Thursday, May 14, 2009


Cornbread is the other beloved Southern bread. It is for dinner what biscuits are for breakfast. Traditionally, dinner was the main meal of the day, and was served at noon. Later in the day would come a lighter meal known as supper.

Nowadays, we have lunch, which is typically eaten away from home. Then we have dinner, the main meal, when we arrive back home at the end of the day.

Regardless of when you eat it, cornbread is an essential component of the vegetable plate, which is very Southern. I can't imagine eating a bowl of pinto beans without cornbread. Collard greens, without cornbread to soak up the pot likker? Unheard of.

Recipes and methods for cornbread are one of the passions among Southern cooks. White or yellow corn? Buttermilk or "sweet milk"? Sugar? You will hear one Southerner say, "I love a sweet cornbread", and another spat, "I cannot stand sweet cornbread!" There is the classic black skillet cornbread, corn pone, corn cake, hoe cake, fried cornbread, hushpuppies. I find the controversies nostalgic and endearing.

Myself? I like them all, including this recipe for Mexican Cornbread, which was scrawled on a scrap of paper, and given to me many, many years ago, with the request, "Please make some".

In this recipe, self-rising cornmeal mix, is assumed. Salad oil is vegetable oil. Sweet milk means, not buttermilk (although I have made it with buttermilk). The small can of niblet corn, at the time, was 8 ounces, and I have used fresh, grilled, cream-style, and frozen corn. The recipe is very forgiving - and delicious.

Mexican Cornbread

3 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 onion, grated
1 cup corn
3 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Mix ingredients in the order given, then pour into a greased and floured pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes, until brown and a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

By the way, in my neck of the woods, in Alabama, we never said, "sweet tea", sweet was a given. We called it, "Ice Tea".

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