Thursday, August 29, 2013

Soft Inside, Crispy Outside Southern Cornbread


OH. MY. HEAVENS. It's CORNBREAD! And not just any cornbread. No, no. This has the traditional outside crunch of traditional Southern cornbread, but the inside is less dense, softer, more pillowy if you will. This is soft inside, crispy outside Southern Traditional Cornbread...in an Untraditional way. Here's my recipe card (which is all kinds of messy):

 



First of all, do you see this jar? This is an old jam jar full of bacon grease that has lovingly been stored in the fridge. I know that those of you who have been reading this blog for a while have seen that I store bacon grease in a coffee cup by the stove. If, however, you do not use bacon grease very often (or if you happen to be remodeling your kitchen and want to avoid getting sawdust in the bacon grease), storing the grease in a jar (preferably something glass) in the fridge is the way to go. Do you need bacon grease for cornbread? Does it absolutely have to be bacon grease? On behalf of the South, the answer is YES.
The next thing you need to see is this beautiful cast iron skillet. Can you make cornbread in a cake pan? Yes. Is it as awesome as cornbread made in a cast iron skillet? Nope. Not at all.

This is actually a brand new cast iron skillet. I'm using a brand new one because I just got married and my momma's cast iron skillets are still living at her house. Dang it.

Cast iron pans can be (and should be) seasoned. Remember the post I wrote about Miss Coretta from The Famous Jett Jackson hiding her pans all over the house? (On a related note: I was so sad to hear about Lee Thompson Young's early, untimely death recently. My heart and prayers go out to his family, friends, and coworkers.) She was hiding them from Jett's mom who did not know that you aren't supposed to wash cast iron pans. (I do wash mine...but GENTLY and with very little soap...only when necessary.) I did not season this pan very well. In fact, those of you who know a little bit about cast iron pans know just by looking at this one that I didn't season it very well because the handle still isn't a black color. 

Back to cornbread...
Step One: Put about a tablespoon of bacon grease in a cast iron skillet. Heat it over med-high heat until it begins to smoke. (CAUTION: When grease begins to smoke, it is just a short step away from catching fire. SO WATCH CAREFULLY!)








Ok...I must say... I start heating up the grease before I start mixing my ingredients. I've been making cornbread for a while, and when I make it, the amount of time it takes for me to mix the ingredients is almost the same amount of time it takes for the grease to heat just right. If you choose to mix your ingredients while the grease heats, please, please be careful. Keep a watchful eye on that grease while you mix everything together. 
Step Two: Meanwhile (or before you ever begin heating the grease), mix together White Lily self-rising cornmeal, buttermilk, and mayo. 

I know, I know - mayo is the untraditional ingredient that makes the cornbread soft. You won't find it in Mama's recipe, but it makes soft cornbread. Traditionally, an egg is used instead of mayo. My momma ran out of eggs one time but really wanted cornbread, so she tried mayo (since it is made from eggs). Even though I do not like mayonnaise, I LOVE cornbread made this way. 
When you mix everything together, the batter will look super thick like this. 









Step Three: Add about 1/4 c. water. The batter should be more fluid like this. 









This is just a picture of what the grease looks like when it starts to smoke. I'm just proud I captured the picture. 









Step Four: Carefully pour the grease into the batter... 

(It was at this point that I realized I should have used a glass or metal bowl instead of a plastic one. I always tease my momma because all of her plastic bowls are ruined...probably from hot bacon grease during the cornbread making process.)



...and stir well. 









Step Five: Pour the batter into the hot cast iron skillet. 









Step Six: Bake at 450 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. 









Now...if your pan is seasoned well, the cornbread will slide right out...and be much prettier than this when you flip it upside down onto a plate. 







Look at it! Look at the crunchy golden outside...the pillowy soft, melt-in-your-mouth inside of the cornbread. What could be better? Put a pat of butter on the inside. Oh....heavenly, Southern, goodness. 










Untraditional Traditional Southern Cornbread
1 T. bacon grease
1 1/4 c. White Lily Self-Rising Cornmeal Mix
1 c. buttermilk
3 T. mayonnaise 
1/4 c. water
BUTTER!

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Melt bacon grease in a 8" cast iron skillet over med-high heat until it smokes - while it heats, mix remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Add melted, smoking grease to the batter. Mix well. Pour the batter into the hot cast iron skillet. Bake 25 minutes(ish) or until golden brown. Serve with butter.
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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Kitchen Remodel...The Reason for the Delays


So...
I know what you're thinking. "Amber, you came back for like two recipes and then disappeared." Well, I'd like to explain that ...and I believe the above picture is worth a thousand words.

Yep, we are re-doing our kitchen. I wish I had a before picture, but I don't. You can kind of see what color they used to be by looking inside them. For those of you who are not aware, re-doing circa 1950 cabinets is a process that is in one word ridiculous.

Whoever varnished the cabinets last varnished over the screws, so there were no longer any grooves for a screwdriver. My poor husband had to use about five different tools to get out each screw.

Then, he sanded all of the cabinets. After the sanding process was complete our entire house had a coat of sawdust. One of my husband's friends came over after the cleaning up of the sawdust blanket and said, "Well, you at least covered the door in plastic, huh?" We just looked at each other and shook our heads. Yeah, that would have been smart. Wish we had thought of such!

Apparently, I am allergic to the varnish or something because I was sick for days after the sanding process.

Before we began painting, my husband patiently spackled and sanded, spackled and sanded... and spackled and sanded some more. At some point during the spackle and sanding days, I really, really wanted some homemade rolls. So, I started gathering the materials needed to accomplish such a task.

Unfortunately, all of our kitchen supplies are all over the house. Cooking involves a bit of a scavenger hunt. Right after my husband moved everything out, I remember asking, "Hey, where are the plates?" Without missing a beat, he said, "Right here," and he reached under the desk in the living room to hand me a plate.


Those of you who have been reading a while have seen my roll recipe. There aren't that many ingredients or supplies.

After 30 minutes of looking for ingredients and supplies, I gave up. I decided that I did not want rolls quite that much.

For example, where can I find a cup? On the couch.


Where are our mixing bowls and pots? In the office.

Baking dishes are there, too...

Cake pans and mixing bowls can also be found on bookshelves in the living room...

Where can I find flour, sugar, etc? In the living room on the coffee table.

What about spices, yeast, and other various food items? In a box...on the floor...next to the TV in the living room.

Where can I find anything else? In garbage bags that have exploded and overflowed into the floor of the office. (In our defense, they were neatly stacked in the garbage bags. We heard a loud rattle and clang in the middle of the night one night. This is what we found. Why fight it?)

I'm still not sure where to find some things...

So... With good reason, all of my cooking endeavors are on hold :)

"So when will the kitchen be complete?" you ask. Well, good question. I am not sure. Let me give you an idea of what we are dealing with. Here are our cabinet doors. "Where are they?" you ask. They are in my in-laws garage of course!

"Have you finished painting them?" Well, yes and no. Yes, they have 2-3 coats on each side. No, because the joint compound is showing through on the front. Soo... Now the front must be primed and reprinted a couple of times.

Maybe our kitchen will be finished by Halloween...
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