Life is so confusing most of the time.
It's scary a lot.
Because you never know what's coming around the corner to bite you.
I'm one of those people who lives in a constant state of anxiety about The Future.
Especially now, when I've kind of realized, that I'm just getting older, and I still haven't made my first million or starred in a movie or even gotten my driver's license. And suddenly, all these Major Life Descisions are creeping around that corner.
What I love about cooking and baking in particular, is that you don't have to worry about The Future. Cooking is an excercise in being present. If you set out to bake a chocolate cake. You'll get a chocolate cake. (And of course, there's uncertainty about the deliciousness of your cake, but regardless, you get a chocolate cake.)
Baking is not like life, where sometimes you give the world love and then it gives you lemons.
I'm so afraid of getting lemons.
But the really gorgeous thing, is that lemons are a very vital part of your cooking repetoire, because, hey man, you can make lemonade. And so really, lemons aren't so bad, and aren't you glad that things turned out the way they did? Because really, everything always happens for a reason somehow?
At least, that's what I tell myself: Everything happens for a reason. Even if that reason happens to be totally the most lame-ass, stupid reason in the world.
You would think that I would follow all this up with a recipe that has lots of lemons. Instead I'm giving you a recipe for something a bit unexpected. Corn bread.
Humble, plain jane, workman, ordinary, everyday corn bread. Corn bread for beans. Corn bread to go with mystery meat. Corn bread with jelly and butter and corn bread warm by itself. Corn bread is the perfect comfort food. Corn bread will always be cornbread and it will always be there for you, even when The Future is looming, hiding around the corner, coming to bite you.
Jeanne Owen's Corn Bread
from James Beard's American Cookery
I am in love with this recipe. It's the best cornbread I've ever eaten ever. It is delicate and rich, without being overwhelming. It is not fancy. There are no expensive cheeses in it. It's. Just. Corn bread.
This is also the first James Beard recipe I've ever tried and I really liked it. According to Beard, this recipe is from a lovely woman named Jenanne Owen, who, "Was a brilliant cook and a stalwart discipline of the art of good living. "
I love that, a discipline of the art of good living. Good living is all about discipline. I am a big believer in discipline.
In addition, Mrs. Jenanne often served her cornbread for cocktails "In the form of small square sandwiches filled with bits of ham." Obviously, I want to go to one of Jeanne's cocktail parties RIGHT NOW, only I would probably be the awkward anti-social guest who is too busy eating corn bread and ham sandwiches to actually socialize and get plastered.
1/2 cup sifted flour
1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs well beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
1/3 cup butter
Sift all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and milk and beat with a wooden spoon. Beat in the cream, and lastly the melted butter. Pour into a 8 1/2 x 11 inch well buttered pan, and bake at 400 degrees, for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until center is baked through. (Testing with a toothpick is a good idea. Also, lightly tapping the surface of the bread is a good indicator for how baked it is.) Remove from oven.
Eat warm, preferably slathered with butter and served with a hearty, earthy comfort foody complement.
p.s. I put some diced mild chile peppers on top. Because I think color is nice.