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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Corn

   A lot of countries have taken ingredients and not only made them their own but have done so to such an extent that most people believe they have been using them for thousands of years. Tomatoes for example, are one of the main ingredients for Italian foods and they are known far and wide for the many ways they use them. Granted, they do some wonderful stuff with them but some people forget that tomatoes come from the new word and before the fifteen hundred's there were no great tasting sauces made from them. When a lot of people think of potatoes they think of the Irish forgetting that potatoes also come from the new world. Feasting on pigs cooked in a pit using hot stones is a trademark of many of the pacific islands but until European sailors dropped pigs off on those islands to provide a food supply for their voyages the main protein for those feasts would have been fish. Most of the spices that the French use so well in their food came from Java and other members of the "spice islands" and there are so many foods in America that came for other countries a person could write a book just listing them but one of the things that we had and kept in the new world was corn.

   There are a lot of amazing things that corn can be used for and I wish I could say that Okies came up with them and for all I know maybe they did but the only thing we used it for down home was some pretty good eats. Ingredients

   Corn Bread: It seems like there's as many different ways of making corn bread as there are people making it. Everyone has their favorite recipes including adding different spices. I had a couple of cousins that came close to a knockdown, drag out fight over adding sugar. This is what I tended to think of as "regular" corn bread like Grandma used to make.

• 1/2 cup butter

• 2/3 cup white sugar

• 2 eggs

• 1 cup buttermilk

• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

• 1 cup cornmeal

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.

2. Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

   Sawmill Gravy: I ordered this from a cafe in North Carolina one time and they brought out sausage and white gravy, not what I was expecting. Granma used to make this for me and sawmill gravy was what she always called it.

In a large saucepan over medium heat melt 4 Tbsp. butter

Add 4 Tbsp of fine ground cornmeal mixed with salt and pepper and whisk to blind

Continue to whish while slowly adding milk until all the ingredients are blended.

This is one of those meals where all I ever did was watch Grandma make it. I never made this on my own and I hope I have this recipe right but my memory isn't what it once was so if I've missed anything I apologize. One thing I remember about these is that you could take the left over's, cut them into pieces about 3" by 3" and fry them into a kind of corn bread for supper. I know a couple of times she added onions and sausage to the mix which I really liked.

   Corn Dodgers: The recipe for these is the same as for regular corn bread except you add a little more corn meal to make a thicker dough, roll the dough into ball about the size of goofballs' and deep fry them. Now I'm not going to lie to ya, these things turn out to be very similar to corn meal rocks but they are really handy to carry along while you're wondering in the woods or working in the fields. You need some pretty strong teeth to eat them but they do taste pretty good. P.S. it's kind of fun to set one of these out and watch the squirrels try to eat it.

   Some of the best corn we ever had when we were kids was other people's corn. We used to sneak up to Bill Longs corn field and pilfer a couple of ears each then we'd take them down to river and soak them in the water for five or ten minutes. After that it was just a matter of laying them still in their sucks directly on the coals of the campfire until they were cooked. You have to be careful peeling the shucks cause they would be really hot but if you're careful you can peel them down to the end and use them as holders. Add a little salt and pepper and you got some great eating and they always seemed to taste so much better than your own corn.