Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Elinor's special cornbread

Now this here's a recipe for Sunday dinner. Or Wednesday, if you're interested in celebrating something special. A little more trouble than the everyday recipe but it's worth it.

Company's Coming Cornbread

1 cup sifted flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal
1 egg
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons cooking oil
strawberry preserves
2 more tablespoons sugar

Sift together flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add cornmeal.

In a separate bowl whisk together egg, milk and oil. Add to dry ingredients and mix to combine.

Pour batter into a greased pie tin. Spread preserves over top of batter, then sprinkle with extra tablespoons sugar.

Place in a preheated, medium heat oven and bake for a half hour or so. You'll know when the bread is done if you're any kind of baker. And if you're new to the kitchen consider this one of your first trials. We all have 'em. If I remember correctly, one of my first cooking trials included a bushel of cukes, a bowl of apple cider vinegar and two crocks of salt. Oh, what a mess that was! Yes, a real mess.

But that's a story for another day...

Elinor's Fast Cornbread

Elinor's Fast Cornbread

4 T. butter
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425°.

Use butter to grease cast iron skillet. Place in warmed oven, wait until butter melts, then swirl around in skillet until all sides are evenly coated. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. I use an old Fiestaware bowl, a yellow one, but you can use any kind of bowl you've got on hand. Then, add the egg and milk and stir until the batter is well, you know. Like batter.

If there's a little butter left in the skillet, pour that into the batter and mix it in. Then, pour the batter into the skillet. Pop the skillet into the hot oven and bake the whole shebang for, I don't know...maybe a half hour or so. You'll know when the cornbread is done. It'll be golden brown on the top and a little bit crusty on the bottom.

Serve it with dinner, or for a snack. It's good hot from the oven and cooled the next morning for breakfast. But if you really want to have leftovers for breakfast the next day, you'd best double the recipe. Yes, I'd say make two if you really want to eat your fill.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Corn bread and little boys

Goodness, but my Jamie could put away food when he was a little boy! Lordy, sometimes I thought he had a trap door to him, he ate so much. We never minded, not one bit. Used to love to watch him eat, truth be told. Always good to see a youngster eating his fill at the dinner table. Especially if he uses good manners, and knows what his napkin is for. Of course, my Jamie always knew how to behave at dinnertime. Always.

He liked nearly everything I put on his plate. Except--why, except peas and carrots. Oh, he liked peas and carrots well enough. Still does. Just didn't like them mixed together. Touching each other, you know? And he still doesn't. Why, I guess we've all got a quirk or two, don't we?

One of Jamie's favorite foods was--and still is--my corn bread. Oh, but could the boy put away some corn bread! As much as I'd bake, he'd eat.

I told him when he was young--very young mind you...maybe two or three years old--still in short pants, that's how young he was--that cornbread wasn't my own invention. Nosiree, it was made long before I started baking it. Told the little guy it was made by the Indians--Native American Indians--way back before any of us even got to this land. First bakers used nothing more than a little cornmeal, some salt and enough water to make a batter. Cooked it over an open fire, too.

Land sakes, at least I never had to cook over an open fire. I may be old, but I've got my new gas range and that makes what little cooking I do now a snap. Not that I do much cooking anymore, mind. No, I mostly brown toast and boil water. But there was a time...

Oh, I'm rambling again. I have a habit of doing that, I think. Comes from living alone for so long. Having no one to talk to but myself. Oh, and sometimes I talk to those who've come and gone, like Amos and Al and my dear cousin. Father, too. I talk to Father a lot. But let's just keep that between us all right-y? I'd hate for anyone to think I was some kind of doddering old woman a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

Maybe the next time you visit I'll share one of my cornbread recipes with you. All my recipes are old family secrets but I think I can share one or two. Leastways, I think I can.

You come on back soon. I'm sure we'll have more to chat about. Maybe swap a recipe or two. Maybe.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Remembering Special Days


Oh my, birthdays sure have been big in my little country house! Yes, I remember many a birthday cake sitting in the center of our worn pine table. Lots of singing around that table, too, let me tell you. Lots of singing. Not all of it would take any blue ribbons at the country fair talent show but it came from the heart. Yessirree, right from the heart.

Of course my dear mother left this earth giving me life, so I never had the priviledge of having my mother sing Happy Birthday to me. To have her bake me a cake. It's hard to miss what you've never had but Lord, I missed it. Yes, I missed it. Never told Father though I suspect he knew. He must have known.

Still, Father made my growing-up birthdays happy and gay. Always found time to bake my birthday cake himself. Lop-sided. They were some of the lop-sided-est cakes I've ever seen, but boy, they sure were tasty. What I'd give for one of those lop-sided cakes right about now. Lemon, I think. I'd surely enjoy a slice of lemon cake...

Ooh, I do ramble! Here I am going on and on about lemon cakes and Father and it's not even my birthday! No, it's not. My birthday isn't until--well, that's hardly the topic either, is it? No, I'm supposed to be talking about someone else's special day. Someone very special is having a birthday today, I hear.

Sarita's mother. Yes, it's true! Sarita's mother is having a birthday today. Woo-ee, a reason to celebrate! Every day the Lord gives us is a good one to my way of thinking. But those extra-special ones, like birthdays of those we love? Well, they're...well, they're extra-extra-special days, aren't they?

I hope you'll help me wish Sarita's mother a happy birthday! Let's all send wishes her way for many happy, healthy returns.

Now you all have a nice day, you hear? Remember, it's a special one.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Welcome From Elinor

SNOWDANCE by Sarita Leone

Welcome to From the Pages! It's me, Elinor Montoya, from Snowdance. I wasn't sure you recognized me, seeing as you've got to visit with me through this computer screen and all. Ah, it's so good to have you here! And so good to have a place to chat with all of you!

Sarita assures me that this is the spot where we, the characters from her novels and short stories, will have a chance to sit a spell with all you nice folks. Sort of get to know you all a little better, and to give you the chance to get to know us as well.

I must admit, I was nervous about chatting on this new-fangled Internet thingy but once again Sarita assured me it would be fine. Between you and me, I worried I might get sucked right into the whole Internet and be lost in Cyberspace or something. But hush on that, won't you? Let's just keep that between us. I don't want to go showing my age on this first visit with you.

I figure as long as I pretend this keypad (or keyboard or whatever it's called) is my trusty old black 1935 Royal, I'll be just right as rain. This key-thingy doesn't have that nice, deep, satisfying clacking noise that my old Royal has when my fingers hit the keys but that's fine, too. With this new contraption I don't have to hit the keys nearly as hard as I used to do with the Royal so typing's easier on my fingers. Rheumatism, you know. Oh, right. That's the "old fashioned" term for it, isn't it? Nowadays the doctor calls it arthritis ... but it doesn't matter what word he uses, my fingers smart something terrible sometimes.

Then again, I don't want to let on I'm as old as I am. I figure a woman's got to keep some secrets, doesn't she? After all, the color of my bloomers and the number of years I've lived on this earth may be the only two things this Internet visiting business might not be able to decipher. So for now I'll keep my--

What's that? My age? Snowdance? Readers who already know...

Hmmph. I guess you already know some of my secrets, don't you? You've read the book, and know I'm 97 years old--and darn proud of it, too.


Well, then, I guess I'll just say "Welcome to From the Pages" and leave it at that. You'll come back and visit with me again, won't you? Even if you do know I'm an old woman living in a new world? Good, I'd hoped you'd say you'd be back. Maybe next time we'll talk about ... oh, I don't know. I'll think of something. Until then, you take good care. And don't forget about me.

You don't know the color of my bloomers, do you?