Dorcas Annette Walker
As we enter the New Year lots of celebrations are underway. There is the lighted ball in the New York’s Times Square, California’s Tournament of Roses with the Rose Bowl football game, Florida’s Orange Bowl, Texas’ Crown Bowl, and Louisiana’s Sugar Bowl. In Vancouver the Canadians enjoy the traditional polar bear swim. However you plan to celebrate the New Year, we can look ahead with anticipation to a new start with a New Year full of fresh promises. A time of looking back over the old year and make New Year’s resolutions for the new.
New Year traditions include certain foods. It is believed that anything in the shape of a ring is considered good luck because it symbolizes coming into a full circle, completing a year’s cycle. So the Dutch eat donuts on New Year’s Day. Cabbage is also believed to be a good luck vegetable; the cabbage leaves representing paper currency. Some folks eat black-eyed peas with hog jowl to ensure a year of prosperity. Others eat sauerkraut and pork. In some regions rice is the luck food that is eaten on New Year’s Day.
I’ve chosen cornbread, a staple of the South, to start the New Year off. No matter what the New Year’s menu might include, for the mountain folk of Tennessee you can rest assured that cornbread will be present; a golden, round bread placed on a dish and served by each person breaking off a chuck along with pinto beans, hog jowl, and cooked cabbage. Native Americans used ground corn long before the European explores arrived in the New World. Cornbread was popular during the Civil War because it was cheap and could be made in many different forms. I was first introduced to cornbread when my husband and I moved south to pastor a small church in the Blue Ridge foothills of North Carolina. Up until that time I had only heard of cornbread or read about it in books. It wasn’t until we moved into the mountains of Tennessee that I experienced cornbread baked in an iron skillet and fell in love with the first taste of the hot, crispy, Southern bread. I began adding cornbread baked Southern style to our menu.
Cornbread is considered a soul food enjoyed for its texture and scent. There is nothing like the smell and taste of hot, crumbly cornbread spread with melting butter and topped with homemade jam. Cornbread is easy to make and very nutritious. The secret to making Southern cornbread lies in baking the batter in an iron skillet with grease, which forms a golden crust as it bakes. There are many recipes for cornbread. The mountain folk prefer using the white cornmeal making a batter of cornmeal, egg, and buttermilk. I prefer the yellow cornmeal for color and add flour. My recipe is known as light cornbread. Preparation time is five to ten minutes and serves eight- depending on how many pieces of cornbread each person eats.
Place 3-4 tb bacon grease or shortening in 10 inch iron skillet and put in oven to melt.
Mix together in a bowl with large spoon:
2 c yellow corn meal
2 c self-rising flour
3 tb sugar
1 ½ c milk
Pour cornmeal batter directly onto melted grease in iron skillet. Bake at 350º for 35-45 minutes until golden brown. Turn cornbread out on dish and serve while piping hot!
Dorcas Annette Walker is a freelance writer, author, columnist, and photographer from Jamestown, TN. If you have any cooking tips or favorite recipes you are welcome to contact me by mail at: Dorcas Walker, 929 Wildwood Lane, Jamestown, TN 38556 or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Walker family and Dorcas’ books check out her website at: www.dorcasannettewalker.com or htpp://dorcasannettewalker.blogspot.com for other Creative Mountain Cookin recipes.