Saturday, September 6, 2014

Corn Bread with Cheese and Bacon

Today is hot--it's over 90 degrees already, and the forecast is for continued hot weather this coming week, albeit with a slight cooling trend...hopefully staying in the 80s. But even so, I can feel the soon-coming turn of the seasons. Fall is just around the corner, no matter what the thermometer says.

Just this week I noticed that it was still pitch black outside when I woke up, while during the longest days of summer I can rarely beat the grey of early morning. And another thing that clues me in to the change in seasons is that I recently made my first batch of hot chocolate mix, which I only drink during the cooler months.

And then today, I got a terrible urge for chili and cornbread--again, something I'm not prone to eat during summer. So as a goodbye summer/hello autumn recipe, I'm going to share my cornbread recipe with you today. By the way, the recipe can be found in my latest book:

First of all, let's talk cornmeal. If at all possible, use freshly ground corn for your cornmeal. I'm a firm believer that cornmeal can go rancid quickly if left to sit on a shelf. But if grinding your own grain isn't something you do, then store your cornmeal in the refrigerator. That way it will last longer before turning. I do usually grind my own corn, but today I used an interesting heirloom variety that I got at our local Saturday Farmer's Market:
I've thought of growing this old-time variety and it was a pleasure to try it out first. It has a very corny taste, but isn't overpowering, even with the rich color. Here's a closer view of the ground corn so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about:
Now for the recipe:

Corn Bread with Cheese and Bacon

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup instant dry milk
(or you could simply use 1 cup milk and leave out the water, which is listed below)
2 T. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon (or use real bacon bits, which you can get in large bags for fairly cheap at Costco)
1 egg
1 cup water (which you'll leave out if you decide to use liquid milk instead of dry milk)
1/4 cup oil

Grease a 9 x 9-inch pan and set aside.(You could also get away with an 8 x 8-inch pan, but you may need to bake it a few minutes longer.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, instant milk, sugar, baking powder, and salt and stir to mix well. Add the cheese and bacon and stir well again.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg and then add the water and oil and mix until well blended. Stir this liquid mixture into the cornmeal mixture and beat by hand just until well blended and smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until done.

And this is the delectable result:
I think you'll love this recipe. It's hearty and tasty. But it's also just about foolproof, so if you want to add some finely chopped onions or peppers or what have you, go for it.

Obviously, cornbread teams well with chili, but it would also be good with soup or stew or even just a salad. Very versatile!

Try this recipe and see if your family loves it like my own family does. It's quick and easy and sure to please!

As the days of summer wind down and our thoughts and energy turn toward the coming cold months, I pray that you and your loved ones will be snug and well-fed throughout the season.

Blessings to you and yours,

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