Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Book Review: The Cracker Kitchen, Recipe: Mama's Cornbread

From Feb 2009 Recipes and Product Reviews

Let me just say this now: I am NOT a cracker. Actually, I'm not sure I even know any true crackers. However, my closest female friend lives outside of Nashville in a town surely inhabited by people of that persuasion.

Nonetheless, I was curious about The Cracker Kitchen. To tell the truth, I'm really not the right audience for this book. I don't eat a lot of the foods in this book. However, I really enjoyed reading the stories attached to each recipe. Hilarious and authentic, Janis Owens tells a great story and shares a great cornbread recipe. Also, there are plenty of recipes that can be veganized, so I'm going to try that with a few of the classics just for fun.

Because I don't cook with pork (although John is a big fan of pork roll, pork chops, and bacon -- and will cook his own), I took her up on her suggestion to alternately use butter in "Mama's Cornbread" instead of bacon drippings (6 tablespoons, no less!).

From Feb 2009 Recipes and Product Reviews

This is some buttery cornbread. A friend of mine from Rutgers said she wanted to put even more butter on it. I could see jam, but not more butter. In fact, a drizzle of agave nectar would be just the topper this needs.

From Feb 2009 Recipes and Product Reviews

Why show you the butt of the bread? Well, because it's important to understand exactly why you need to bake this in a cast iron skillet. It makes the cornbread especially crispy on the bottom in a pretty uniform way. I love my cast iron skillet. If you don't love yours, just get another one. They're really cheap and worth every penny.

From Feb 2009 Recipes and Product Reviews

You really want to eat this about 20 minutes after it's come out of the oven, while it's still pretty hot from being in the pan while cooling. There's nothing like it. I wasn't ready to down the whole thing, so I cut mine up into quarters and wrapped three of the quarters up tightly in aluminum foil, then bagged them in ziplock bags and froze them right after they cooled. I've been doling them out to my Rutgers friend periodically.

From Feb 2009 Recipes and Product Reviews

I didn't make much of a change to the recipe except that I added 2 tablespoons of agave nectar to it, thinking that would sweeten it up a bit. The butter over-rode the agave, so next time, I'll probably double the amount.

Here's the recipe as I made it.

Mama's Cornbread, from The Cracker Kitchen by Janis Owens (my changes noted)


1 1/2 cups plain yellow cornmeal (I used medium grind because I like the texture)
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (I finally got to use the King Arthur Self-Rising Flour!)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I used buttermilk powder mixed with water instead of fresh, and it worked just fine.)
6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
(My addition: 2 tablespoons agave nectar -- add more to actually taste it.)


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and blend well.
3. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and 3 tablespoons of the butter and stir until smooth. (Add the agave here as well.)
4. Heat the remaining butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 1 minute until hot but not smoking. Shake the pan to coat the bottom. (I also coated the sides.)
5. Pour the cornbread batter into the hot skillet. Bake for 20 minutes, until brown on top and crispy brown on the bottom.
(My addition: Let cool for 20 minutes in pan, then serve.)

From Feb 2009 Recipes and Product Reviews

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