Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cornbread Baking by Kat Magendie

You would think growing up with a mother born on a farm in Arkansas, a biological mother born a hillbilly, a daddy from Tennessee, and from living in Southern States most of my life where the school lunch program more times than not had cornbread (the really sweet kind) on our ugly plastic trays—hey, this was in the day when children didn’t get to pick what they ate, either in school or at home, you ate what was on your plate or you went hungry—that I could prepare a good pan of cornbread.

You think wrong. My cornbread was bad. Not just bad, but inedible. There was the cornbread where I read, “put grease in pan, put pan in oven to heat grease, put cornbread in hot pan.” What I didn’t understand was, the extra grease was to be poured into the batter and stirred in, then that batter was to be poured over the hot greased pan to bake. I poured the batter over all of that liquid, and the result was a cornbread swimming in oil. Ugh. My brothers laughed their arses off over that. The next time I attempted to bake cornbread, I was more careful. I thought. But, when that cornbread came out of the oven, I took my knife to cut into it, and…and…the knife didn’t slice through. What? Huhn? I turned the cornbread out onto the counter—and by now I had an audience of four brothers guffawing—Tommy, or David, or Johnny, or Mike, picked up the “cornbread” and rapped it against the counter. It didn’t break. It didn’t bend. This set my brothers to heights of hilarity only seen on shows like Gilligan’s Island or The Carol Burnett Show. I burst out crying, since that is what girls my age did. My brothers, bless their stinky hearts, felt sorry for me and assured me the cornbread was fine, even as they took it outside and tried to kill snakes with it in the canal out back.

But, what about gratitude, you may be asking? Well, many years later, I stubbornly measured and stirred cornmeal, flour, oil, buttermilk, egg, baking powder, salt, and a bit of sugar, then poured the mix into a hot-greased iron skillet and then into the oven it went. Ding. Deep Breath. I cut it. I tasted. Perfect. Somehow, someway I made the perfect pan of cornbread. The ghost of a Southern Relative took me by the hand and said, “Okay, honey, this here’s how you do it…It ain't hard, child...” Gratitude for good cornbread baking. Why not?


Barbara Quinn said...

Cornbread. Yum! Your recipe sounds perfect. I'd love to have it so I don't make one that I can beat snakes with. Loved the stories.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Great post and ya made me think of my grandma's biscuits...which I still haven't been able to replicate, but durned if I don't keep trying.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Oh, my Granny's Biscuits were HUGE - big and fluffy - and she'd make that choc syrup to sop up....I miss Granny more'n her biscuits, but I sure miss those biscruits, too!

My mom can make the best dang cornbread - but, dang if she can't make anything taste good.

Anonymous said...

Kat, you are too kind!!!

I wish I could make everything taste good but that isn't so. However, I give gratitude for being able to make beans and cornbread that my family could savor as that was our survival kit!
I could never quite duplicate Mama's biscuits though.

Love you, Mom

Kathryn Magendie said...

Hi Mom!!!! :-) (and she's being modest - she CAN cook anything and make it taste good - shoe leather even! Why I bet we ate shoeleather when we were kids and we were poor - I bet she made it taste good *laughing!*)

Anonymous said...

-- Kat, I hear "Clementine" speaking to you here... Maybe an interesting voice to write in time glimpses, back and forth as she looks back at her life, and forward into an abridgement of yours [if you can handle the ghosts, and disguise those who might not appreciate being included] -- your own life sounds like a fascinating, best-selling story... Namaste.

Kathryn Magendie said...

yes....Clementine...*smiling* and that is exactly what I've been doing with our Clementine -

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