Friday, May 29, 2009

May 25, 2009: Memorial Day with Cornbreads and More

Memorial Day is a Monday holiday, and we decided to proceed with a Cornbread Supper for any people not tending their own backyard grills. About 25 people came to Supper, bringing several red-white-blue dishes: fruit salads, casseroles -- and a golden roast chicken.

Left-behind food labels suggest some of the variety of dishes (and colors):
> Strawberry & Spinach Salad
> Black Bean & Mango Salad
> Lemon Poppyseed Scones!
> Rice, black beans, local ground beef, Irish cheddar, salsa
> Lime Curry Orzo

Cornbreads, carrying out the Red-White-Blue theme:
> [Red] Super-spicy vegetarian with red kidney beans, Elmwood 2008 (frozen) hot and sweet peppers, cheeses, Campsie green garlic, and Blue Moon hot paprika
> [White] Traditional cornbread: Contains pork (bacon and cracklings)
> [Blue] New England sweet corn muffins with Reed Valley 2008 blueberries; vegetarian

Prepare for Savory Cornmeal Waffles - taste treat coming up on Monday night, June 8!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 18, 2009: Cornbread 'n Cocktails - Elegant, Fresh, Stunning Strawberry Ones

Andrea Immer, author of Great Wines Made Simple and many other texts on wine, asserts that corn is the single most wine-friendly food in the world. Which brings to mind the old (and eventually expurgated) text of "Beulah Land," Edgar Stites's grand 1876 Methodist camp meeting hymn: "I've reached the land of corn and wine, and all its riches freely mine..."

Later some Baptist revisions yielded a Temperance-minded version: "I've reached the land of joy divine..." But we'll not quibble. There's nothing wrong with joy divine, either.

One consistent longing in many beautiful old hymns is that we will commune with loved ones in freedom and peace in the next life. In this present life, we get to do some earthy and earthly communing already when we come together with good food, drink and friends. In fact, we are enjoying the blessings of corn and wine each week at the Monday night Cornbread Suppers.

This week a wondrous add-on event increased our joy -- earthly joy, though it almost seemed divine in some ways. Neighbor and cocktail historian, advocate, and inventor Mick Jeffries brought an entire cocktail production system across the street and set up shop in the Campsie dining room, muddling fresh Harrison County strawberries, adding the right amounts of fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and rum, chilling with ice - and straining the luscious light, tart-sweet, cold-but-not-frozen mixture into adorable tiny footed glasses.

Cocktailateur Mick JeffriesHistorian Mick taught us that cocktails originally were small sips. And with his muddling stick and pure ingredients he wiped out any memory of any sick-pink-frozen strawberry daiquiri ever sold at a chain restaurant. A thousand thank-yous to Mick for his generosity and good spirit(s).

A sizable group of people ranging in age from eight months to 97 years enjoyed an array of foods, including these few for which I collected the handwritten paper descriptions during cleanup:
  • Mrs. Smallwood's Bourbon pie (packing 1 cup Maker's Mark - and deemed more alcoholic than the daiquiris!)
  • Spinach + Feta Pie: Local spinach; Local feta; 1 egg; pecans, ground; wheat germ; non-fat yogurt
  • Old Time Buttermillk Pie
  • Pickled Beets
Cornbreads included these:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Recipe: Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato with Water DropsSubmitted by Anita Courtney

I got this recipe from a Fresh Market e-newsletter. It's quick to make and even better the next day. Roasting the tomatoes until they carmelize adds a rich flavor. Babies at the Cornbread Suppers seem to like tomato soup. The night I brought this recipe, two little girls both ate several cups of it.


· 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
· Salt and pepper to taste
· 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· 1 yellow onion, diced
· 2 carrots, diced
· 2 stalks celery, diced
· 1 cup chicken broth
· 2 fresh bay leaves
· ¼ cup fresh basil chipped
· ½ cup cream

Preheat oven to 450. Strain tomatoes, reserving juice. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with ¼ cup olive oil. Roast until carmelized, about 15 minutes.

In a medium sauté pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, yellow onion, carrots and celery and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, chicken broth and bay leaves. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add basil and cream. Stir to combine. Remove bay leaves. Puree in a food process or blender until smooth.

Recipe: Three Pea Toss

Three Pea Toss in Orange Bowl

Submitted by Anita Courtney

This recipe is from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper cook book by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. It has 4 shades of vibrant green and a great blend of flavors and textures. This dish is so cheerful and healthy looking that it makes me happy just to look at it!

1 cup sugar snap peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, cut into ½ inch dice
Generous pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup snow peas
1 cup frozen baby peas
2 tightly-packed tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
½ cup salted whole almonds, coarsely chopped

String the sugar snap peas with a small, blunt knife. Grasp the stem between your thumb and the blade and pull down the length of the peas pod. Rinse the pea pods and dry them thoroughly.

Heat a wok or a straight-sided 12-inch sauté pan over high heat. Swirl in the oil. Add the onion, sugar, salt and pepper and toss over high heat for 1 minute.

Add the sugar snap peas and toss for 30 seconds. Stir in the snow peas and cook for 20 more seconds. Finally, add the frozen peas and stir-fry for another 20 seconds or until they are thawed.

Turn the peas into a serving bowl and toss with the mint and almonds. Serve immediately.

Recipe: German Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Submitted by John van Willigen

This is a family recipe from my mother Jean Van Willigen. It seemed to have originated in a German restaurant in Watertown, Wisconsin where an aunt’s father- in-law was the cook. His name was Billy Schubert.

3 lbs. red cabbage, shredded finely
2 chicken bouillon cubes
½ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon salt
Pepper to taste
Dash of ground cloves
2 medium apples, chopped
3 strips of bacon (optional)

In a large kettle combine all ingredients except the bacon. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat: simmer covered and stirring occasionally for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until liquid is reduced and cabbage is tender. Thicken at the end with a bit of flour. Fry the bacon crisp and crumble as a topping if you choose. The recipe does well prepared ahead and can be served the next day. I use a food processor for all the chopping.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Recipe: Cornbread the Ruth Roberts Way

Crusty Cornbread on a Brown PlateSubmitted by Rona Roberts

Opening note: What follows below is a description, without real measurements, of how my mother, Ruth Roberts, made cornbread—without real measurements other than her good eye and hand. Eventually I developed some standard measurements that come close to her good skillet style cornbread. Those are at the bottom of this post. Scroll down if that's what you want.

I admit it – I don't use a recipe for cornbread.  I do follow a process that is nearly a ritual, though. My ritual combines ancestral traditions with the latest food news about the wonders of eating what is real, fresh, and grown close to home. Actually, in cornbread, the ancient and the latest views on what is good come together in joyous union.

I put my mother's well-seasoned cast iron corn stick and corn muffin pans into the oven and turn it on to 450 F. I set some filtered water to boil in my electric teapot. I get out my former husband's grandmother's chipped pink ceramic bowl. I get out fabulous Weisenberger Mill stone-ground white cornmeal, soda, baking powder, and Celtic gray sea salt.

Right about now I pull out the pans in the oven and put about a teaspoon of oil in each little spot. Yes, that much, maybe. I use grapeseed oil or olive oil, or, on rare occasions when I have it, bacon grease.

Back into the oven until the pans start smoking!

In the pink bowl I mix dry ingredients, something like this: a big scoop of stone-ground meal, a medium pinch each of soda and sea salt, and two big pinches of baking powder. Using a heavy whisk – a tool I never saw in my mother's or aunts' kitchens – I stir together those dry ingredients. I add a big swig of buttermilk, a very large egg or two medium ones, and a glug of oil, usually grape seed oil or olive. I aim for a thick texture. Whisk whisk whisk.

By now the teapot has boiled the water and shut itself off. I pour in a medium swig of boiling water. Stir stir stir. If it's thin as a runny milkshake, it's about right.Crusty Cornsticks

Out come the smoking pans. I use a 1/3 cup metal measuring cup as a batter-dipper and work as quickly as I can, pouring the thin batter into the sizzling oil in each little receptacle. Back into the oven until almost nut brown – maybe 15 minutes. Maybe 20.

Corn sticks and corn muffins and cornbread baked in skillets all work perfectly with sorghum. Options:

1. Drizzle sorghum straight onto hot cornbread, buttered or not, and eat with a fork.

2. Make the Magical Mixture of sorghum and slightly softened butter. Spoon onto individual bites of cornbread baked in any shape.

3. Next day, split leftover cornbread and toast it in your toaster oven. Now it's crispy on even more surfaces. Repeat steps 1 or 2, or both steps 1 and 2, above.


The promised recipe Maybe! Try it! Adapt to your taste! This is primarily a skillet or pone recipe.

Note: for crispy cornsticks, the batter works better if it is a bit thinner (from hot water) and fatter (from bacon grease or other fat) than these proportions. But nothing matters as much as having the pans or skillets blazing hot and amply greased before you add the batter.

Cornbread, when made Kentucky-style, has no flour. It is naturally wheat-free.

   Yield: Serves 8–10 from one standard 9-inch black skillet


·       2 ½ cups unbolted white cornmeal
·       1 Tablespoon baking powder
·       1/2 teaspoon soda
·       1 teaspoon salt
·       2 cups buttermilk
·       1 egg
·       1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon browned butter, coconut oil or bacon fat
·       ¼ - 1/3 cup boiling water
·       Option: Coarsely ground black pepper, up to 1 Tablespoon, or other forms of peppery flavor (ground or crushed cayenne, for example) according to taste

Follow the baking steps above. 425 degrees works nearly as well as 450, and is a bit easier to manage.

May 11, 2009: We tried Mexican-Italian-Swiss-USA Cornbread

Multinational CornbreadThe big dish, a variation on Paula Ann Abbott's Mexican Cornbread, included Stone Cross Farm sausage, Swiss cheese, local Sapori d'Italia aged goat cheese, homegrown Wayne County corn, Campsie green garlic, Elmwood Stock Farm's 2008 sweet red peppers (roasted and frozen) as well as their gorgeous pastured, free range, certified eggs, and more.

I also tried Drowned Cornbread a third time - and that's it for that idea, until someone develops a better way to make the American Corn recipe work with its promised layer of custard.

The third cornbread was an olive oil version of traditional Kentucky/buttermilk/boiling water, baked in sticks, muffins, and a small skillet.

I failed to collect little descriptive food labels after people left, except for the one labeled "Pink Beauty Radishes from the Koch backyard." Beauties for sure! And they appealed to one of our one-year-old Cornbreaders, who ate several as if they were popsicles.

I remember a wonderfully aromatic chick pea dish, several lovely salads, and objects on the dessert table - but not what they were. Any reminders welcome!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Campsie Cornbread Suppers: The Recipes!

Anita Courtney says: Let's create a Campsie Cornbread Suppers recipe collection. Please send me ( any recipes that you’ve brought that you'd like to share and I'll post them on this blog. We'll have our own eco-friendly, local cookbook. If there is a dish you really liked but you don't know who made it, feel free to request it and we'll try to track it down. If you get more than 3 compliments on your dish, you're pretty much required to send it in. Here's to more connection, crunch and comfort on Campsie.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 4, 2009: Lots of People, Lots of Children

Beautiful platter that held local caprese saladFunny how good the "every bit local"caprese-style salad looked after the long months without fresh local tomatoes. The big platter of Bleugrass Chevre goat cheese/Roland Macintosh hydroponic tomato/homegrown herbs/vinaigrette may have lasted three minutes - and then the beautiful pattern on the platter underneath got to show itself off.

A lovely large crowd of people brought a record-setting number of young people with them, many of whom ended up moist (that's a euphemism) from (parentally approved) play in outdoor puddles, romps through the back yard, climbs on the mulch pile, and other adventures. Quite a few people new to the Cornbread Suppers appeared this week, with and without children.

The left behind food labels for the evening included these:
  • Chili with beef + beans + ??
  • Grandma Neal's homegrown pepper relish (McCreary County) SPICY
  • Zucchini and yellow squash saute' -- vegetarian, vegan
  • Rhubarb Compote
  • Chocolate pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream
  • Trifle: Blue, black, and raspberries w/organic cream & yogurt
  • Rice Pudding with Cinnamon - enjoy!

Cornbreads for the evening:
  • New England (sweet) Corn Muffins with Reed Valley blueberries (vegetarian)
  • Add-in Cornbread; corn, bacon, Campsie green garlic
  • Traditional buttermilk hot water cornbread: sticks, muffins, pone