Friday, April 11, 2008

Dairy Hollow Cornbread

At the end of last month, shortly before my surgery I was contacted by Crescent Dragonwagon, the author of the Dairy Hollow Soup and Bread cookbook. That happens to be the lovely cookbook that the beer soup came from. It turns out that Mrs. Dragonwagon happens to have written several other cookbooks including a fairly new one called the Cornbread Gospels. She asked if I would like a copy to review.

I have a small confession to make here. Although I said "sure send me a copy" I am definitely not what one would call an expert on cornbread. Prior to receiving the book, I'd never actually made cornbread except out of the blue and white box mix. My mom has always just used the Jiffy mix too. So has my grandma. As it turns out this book is excellent for me. Unfortunately it arrived the day after surgery.

So there I was in a Percocet induced fog excited to get a new cookbook, but really unable to concentrate on what it said. As the fog cleared, mostly due to my stubborn resistance to taking painkillers, I started to read the cookbook. This was also something new for me, but Mrs. Dragonwagon had so much interesting information packed into this cookbook. There is all kinds of information on the differences between "Yankee" and "Southern" cornbread. There's information about cornbreads around the world. There's information about what to do with leftover cornbread. There's basically a TON of information in this cookbook.

My wonderful mother in law, was over at our house everyday to help change my bandages and cook me lunch and usually dinner for the Brain and I. She's very nurturing. I think I can say I have the best mother in law around. Anyhow, back to the subject at hand, she had seen the book arrive and we had several talks about cornbread, which she called Johnny cake. (Johnny cake information is also in this book.) So one night she borrowed the book (OK I sent it over with the Brain) and she made me Countryside Cornsticks. They were delicious. You'll have to take my word on this because at that point in my recovery I couldn't have found my camera if it was sitting in my lap. But they were delicious and now I was fully intrigued.

Last Sunday, the Brain and I momentarily ran out of food being delivered by neighbor ladies and friends and we decided that I would pull a chair into the kitchen and read off the recipe for the beer beans.(Beans are an important food to eat when you've been taking pain killers. Even I couldn't go cold turkey on the painkillers. I don't think I should extrapolate here, but trust me beans are important when taking painkillers.) So there I sat watching my husband cook for me. It was very sexy. I would have taken a photo, but he was in his drawers and that's only something I get to see. I did however get the brilliant idea that we should make something out of The Cornbread Gospels. He got the brilliant idea we should make cookies.

We compromised. While he ran to the store for buttermilk and a refrigerator full of nitrite rich meats, I mixed up these cookies and got them ready for the oven. But then when he got home I carefully mixed up the dough for the Dairy Hollow House Skillet-Sizzled Cornbread. Well, apparently I wasn't too careful because I mixed the baking soda in with the dry ingredients before I realized that it was supposed to go in the buttermilk. So I got it all mixed and the Brain handled the cast iron skillet part. What was the result? A fabulously crumbly delicious cornbread. Crescent Dragonwagon was right. I'm not going back to the Jiffy mix.
This recipe wasn't complicated. It really came together in a flash. Besides, it was great soaking up juices from the beans. And it was great leftover and reheated for about 15 seconds in the microwave with some cube steak a lady friend dropped off. And it was great soaking up the juices from the beans the same lady dropped off. And it was great cold with a thick slice of butter after an early morning physical therapy session. And now I've run out.

Fortunately for me, there are over 200 recipes in this cookbook. I've had 2 so I'd say I realistically have 99% of the recipes left to try. And try more of these recipes I will. I'm only having a hard time narrowing down the choice on which one to do next!

Sorry the photos are blurry, I hadn't quite gotten myself off the Vicodin by that point.

Dairy Hollow House Skillet-Sizzled Cornbread
from The Cornbread Gospels

Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup stone ground yellow cornmeal
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 Tbsp sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
2 Tbsp butter

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 10 inch cast-iron skillet with oil and set aside.

2. Sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.

3. In a smaller bowl, stir the baking soda into the buttermilk. Whisk in the sugar, egg, and the 1/4 cup oil.

4. Put the prepared skillet over medium heat, add the butter, and heat until the butter melts and is just starting to sizzle. Tilt the pan to coat the sides and bottom.

5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine them quickly, using as few strokes as possible. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cornbread until it is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cook for a few moments, and slice into wedges to serve.


glamah16 said...

How fun to get contacted by the author. Her name sounds so unusual.Looking forward to seeing more cornbread.

Emiline said... I love cornbread.

Cool! I've read some of Crescent Dragonwagon's books. She put out that huge vegetarian one, right?
You must be tickled pink.

marye said...

I have her Passionate Vegetarian cookbook, and really like it.
This looks great!

Cakelaw said...

Hi Mary, congrats on being sent the book - it means that the author is taking notice of your blog -always good news.

I have tagged you for a memoir:

Hope you don't mind.

Fran Z said...

Just found your blog recently- I'm from N OH, too! I love cornbread of all kinds, but am partial to this sweet stuff-
I'll have to check out that book!

Anonymous said...

Love cornbread. Absolutely cannot get the hang of making it so that it doesn't coat my teeth and the roof of my mouth with its DRYNESS.