"It’s My Own Invention"

After a while the noise seemed gradually to die away, till all was dead silence, and Alice lifted up her head in some alarm. There was no one to be seen, and her first thought was that she must have been dreaming about the Lion and the Unicorn and those queer Anglo-Saxon Messengers. H o w- ever, there was the great dish still lying at her feet, on which she had tried to cut the plum-cake. “So I wasn’t dreaming after all,” she said to herself, “unless — unless we’re all part of the same dream. Only I do hope it’s my dream, and not the Red King’s. I don’t like belonging to another person’s dream,” she went on in a rather complaining tone; ” I’ve a great mind to go and wake him, and see what happens.”

Lewis Carrol, Through the Looking Glass

My Grandmother, a Russian immigrant, ran a Catering Company on the Southside of Philadelphia. My Mother owned and worked a Catering Company in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC. I went to law school, passed the Pennsylvania bar and now pretty much run a Catering business.

When we do our Home Restaurants my ten year old, Martin Lane, works with us. We have done five now and she has begun to fall into a rhythm, choosing jobs she likes. “I’m going to bubble the water now…” as she grabs the penguin shaped water sparkling machine, click, press, squeak… Her enjoyment seems to come from knowing what she is doing and getting a thing done before being asked or worse someone telling her what to do. She takes on authorship of everything she creates for better or for worse, and like Alice through the Looking Glass, we feel her not wanting to belong to anyone else’s dream, so she makes it her own dream.

Martin Lane has made cornbread for our last three Home Restaurants. We use a recipe given to us by John’s Mom, that has changed over the years. John’s family is from Georgia and will tell you that only Northerners put sugar in the cornbread. ML is psyched to cook her Grandmother’s recipe even if she will not eat any.

ML and I are both Vegan so I have changed this recipe when we are eating. However, in the Home Restaurant, we have been making the “authentic”, that is to say with buttermilk and amazing Farm Fresh eggs and butter. At the last dinner we wanted to make the cornbread extra crusty and super moist as it was being served as the protein of a dish with summer salad (another southern favorite of marinating tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions all from the garden in vinegar). The Bread had to be perfect in order to pull off such a simple dish. Martin Lane mixed an Amazing batter and when it hit the hot cast iron skillet that had been heating in the oven for over an hour, you could tell it was going to be a good one.

It is fun to watch ML cook and experiment with food–even foods she does not eat. She seems to take more care with things like eggs. She is pretty much fearless in the kitchen and if she does not like something she will let you know!

We began a discussion the next day on whether the Vegan Cornbread was better than the “Authentic”. We decided to have a taste test to find out exactly what the differences were, of course with John doing the tasting…

He said the Vegan was much more meatier or bouncier and maybe even moister while the “Authentic” was cakier, not dry at all… The big difference was the crust… the non-vegan made an amazing dark golden brown crust. John said he would be happy with either one of these slices-–However we must keep in mind this recipe comes from his Mama and these cornbreads as he says are his “Proustian Madeleines-–In Search of Lost Time AND Remembrance of Things Past…a little of both, please.”

Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg beaten
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 oz melted butter (plus about 1/2 oz. extra set aside for pan)

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place heavy bottom 9 inch skillet (preferably cast iron in the hot oven for at least 20 minutes to heat thoroughly).
2.Combine all ingredients and wisk until they are thoroughly incorporated.
3.Pull hot skillet out of the oven and working quickly so skillet stays hot add 1/2 oz butter and coat the bottom of the pan. Immediately pour batter in skillet and place back in the oven. Bake until golden brown and is slightly springy to the touch, about 20 minutes.
4.Remove from oven and remove from pan. Cornbread is delicious hot just out of the oven or at room temperature.

Vegan Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups almond or soy milk
1/4 cup pureed silken tofu
1 1/4 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 oz melted non hydrogenated margarine such as Smart Balance (plus about 1/2 oz. extra set aside for pan)

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place heavy bottom 9 inch skillet (preferably cast iron in the hot oven for at least 20 minutes to heat thoroughly).
2.Combine all ingredients and wisk until they are thoroughly incorporated.
3.Pull hot skillet out of the oven and working quickly so skillet stays hot add 1/2 oz of margerine and coat the bottom of the pan. Immediately pour batter in skillet and place back in the oven. Bake until light golden brown and cornbread is slightly springy to the touch, about 20 minutes.
4.Remove from oven and remove from pan. Cornbread is delicious hot just out of the oven or at room temperature.

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This entry was published on July 21, 2009 at 4:10 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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