Food is such an integral part of our lives and of our culture that, especially as women, our cooking becomes an extension of who we are, sometimes even to the point we are known by the things we cook.
Surely you’ve heard something like this, or even said something like it yourself. Oh, that’s so-and-so. She is the sweetest person. She makes a coconut cream pie you would not believe… Our signature dishes, those foods we make best, become like tasty aspects of our personality.
Obviously we should all be judged by our characters rather than by our cooking, but I think it’s wonderful when BOTH commend us.
My dear aunt lost her mother this past week and we all share in her loss. Beckie Payne was a beloved Christian woman, known for her kindness and her graciousness and her wit.
And her Mexican cornbread.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people make comments about Granny Beckie’s Mexican cornbread. Mention her name and mention of her cornbread was likely not far behind it! So it wasn’t surprising to me at all when her cornbread was even mentioned at her funeral. Good foods have a way of making lasting memories much like good times.
I must tell you, though it pains my southern heritage to admit it, I don’t generally care much for cornbread. But this stuff is so good, very moist and flavorful with just the right touch of heat. And though it pairs well with a lot of main courses, it is marvelous with soups! We usually have it with homemade vegetable soup, but it would give a nice kick to old fashioned pinto beans or spicy black been soup or virtually any soup or stew you can think of!
So in Beckie’s memory, let me share.
Beckie’s Mexican Cornbread
3 cups self-rising cornmeal
1 small onion, chopped
3 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 (15-oz) can cream style corn
1 cup oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 T. sugar
1 1/2 cups grated cheese
Mix all ingredients and pour into two greased iron skillets or two greased 8 x 8 baking pans. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
Granted, this hardly qualifies as a low-fat/calorie recipe, but it could definitely be tweaked to be more clean-eating-friendly. For one thing, I actually make my own cream style corn with flour, milk, and salt and pepper. The creamy flavor is so much better than canned!
My kids can’t always take the heat of jalapenos, so I’ll often substitute green chilies. I’ll add a few tablespoons of chopped chilies from the freezer or I’ll use canned. And since we don’t usually eat two pans of the cornbread at once, I usually slide one into a freezer bag and freeze until the next soup night. Sometimes I think it’s even better reheated!
Granny Beckie will be missed. Nothing or no one can replace her. But there’s something comforting about pulling out a recipe a dear loved one has perfected and recreating it. It can bring back a flood of memories; some sad perhaps, because we miss them, but far more that remind us of moments of love and laughter and simple joys.
Good cornbread and beautiful memories. I wonder if that’s why they call it “comfort food”.