Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cornbread and Food Images

When I was young my mother used to make baked beans and what she called Johnny Cake, i.e. cornbread. I have no idea if Johnny Cake is a regional expression – my mom is from Winnipeg – or perhaps just an old fashioned one. I am sure someone out there in the ether can tell me.

This is NOT her recipe, handed down from mother to daughter for generations out of mind. It is one that I found in a magazine last month when I needed to make cornbread to go with the baked beans I was serving on Boxing Day.

½ c all-purpose flour
½ c fine yellow cornmeal
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 tsp baking power
1 tsp salt
½ cup whole milk, room temperature
1 large egg, room temp.

Preheat oven to 425. Butter a 9 * 5 inch loaf pan.
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
Whisk milk and egg in a small bowl
Pour into flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over-mix, the batter should be lumpy
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until top is golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Chris has asked us what food-related book titles we like. I was thinking along the same lines: at the end of the year we could have fun with a “Best of” list of books we’ve read that make the best use of food. Food can do so much in a novel: it sets the scene, creates a mood, adds description, gives clues to the class and time of the characters. How a person approaches food can tell you a lot about their character, their values, their attitude to life. All types of mystery books, from cozy to noir and everything in between, use food images very effectively.

Or not.

I am currently reading – for educational purposes only – The Lost Symbol. About half way in and so far not a drop of food or drink has passed the lips of any of the characters. What does this tell me?

These are really boring people.


Donis Casey said...

I thought johnny cake was a Southern U.S. dish! That shows how much I know.

Vicki Delany said...

Reading your Alafair Tucker books, Donis, I am always amazed at the similarites in expressions and habits between your characters and my Western Canadian family.

Donis Casey said...

I had a woman from Alberta tell me that Alafair uses expressions that she hasn't heard since her grandmother was alive. You know the old saying that there's nothing between Texas and the North Pole but a barbed wire fence, so I suppose the plains culture, food, language sweeps up and down the prairie with the wind.

Chris V. said...

A "Best of " sounds fun... Lost Symbol.. no food? They live on air?? haa!

Ellen said...

I thought Johnny Cakes were pancakes made from cornmeal. Years ago I purchased JC mix from an online vendor in RI along with a coffee syrup