Sunday, July 19, 2015

"Life is just a bowl of butter beans"

Life is just a bowl of butter beans
Pass the cornbread, if you please
I don't want no collard greens
All I need is a bowl of butter beans

And so It begins ....

Ma'maw Cordie's black-skillet cornbread with Not'cho Daddy's dirty beans.

.... with a pan of Southern cornbread and a pot of beans.

Original FB post, July 16, 2015 ~

Something I had never -- as in NOT EVER -- done before; made my Ma'maw's Southern Iron skillet cornbread. This is traditional, down-home cornbread of corn meal, a touch of flour, baking powder, salt, pinch of white sugar, an egg, buttermilk, bacon fat and butter.

What's your favorite cornbread recipe?
 — with Annie Miller..

Lifted from Doug McCoy
This summer of 2015, I tell you, is not the best of times for a Son of the South. Often times I imagine sitting down with my Elders going back to Knoxville, GA, in the 1830s. The crooked little man with the bushy beard is John Sanford Saunders, Great Grandfather on Mom's side, CSA combat veteran, and my oldest Patriarch. Next to Old John is his last-born boy Wiley Preston Saunders, my Grandfather; and at his right side, his last-born baby girl, my Mom, Gracie Ellen Saunders.
We all know "The Look", don't we.

As I was saying .... That little post on cornbread and beans provoked more than a few comments:

"I like a buttermilk recipe, too. It's very close to yours, but I've never added bacon drippings before. I, too, use my grandmother's cast-iron skillet."

"Martha White (lol) with a bit of sugar and chopped jalapenos. Pour half batter in a hot iron skillet, spread shredded cheese, then pour rest on top & bake."

"I have my great-grandmother's skillet," the widow Vernon allowed. There's a character! Regular readers will, no doubt, be reading more from Liz by the by.

"The best comfort food will always be greens, cornbread, and
fried chicken." ~ Maya Angelou

 Elise over at Simply Recipes offers this take on Southern cornbread.

2 cups cornmeal OR 1 1/2 cups cornmeal and 1/2 cup flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp sugar (optional)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp bacon drippings

This is a solid base from which to set out and explore, but keep in mind these two essential points:
     1. No two cooks make the same cornbread, and 
    2. No cornbread baker worth his salt measures.

I like the three-to-one (3-1) cornbread-to-floor ratio; makes for a good crumb. Really old school cooks will insist on leaving out the flour altogether. This harkens back to cornbread's early people .... <Cue the Dream Weaver music!"

First Cornbread was whooped up by Native American Peoples using only ground corn, salt and water many moons before there was a Columbus to dream of a New World. Different regions of the New World to-be had differing varieties of corn. Blue corn, for instance, was favored in the Southwest, while yellow corn grew best up North. Down South folks, naturally, were used to white corn. White corn likewise would give The South grits, hominy and that shameful feeling of white supremacy.

No sooner had the White Eyes arrived to discover a plethora of great cornbreads when they went to monkeying with the indigenous, native mixes. Northern insurgents soon were fortifying native cornbreads with honey, molasses, even white sugar when they could get it. Below the as yet undiscovered Mason/Dixon, however, no backwoods redneck would be caught dead with sweet cornbread in his poke.

Sweet vs Not Sweet remains the basis for many a Great Unpleasantnesses to this day! Note the "(optional)" appended to the "1 to 2 Tbsp sugar" in Elise's recipe above. Even in a Southern savory bread, a pinch or two of white sugar helps make the other component flavors pop without a sweet taste coming through.

Now, Mom's people were all solid South. Dad's folks, on the other hand, were Upper Midwest, right along the Ohio-Michigan line. So my own personal favorite cornbread mix is 3-to-1 yellow cornmeal-to-floor and a healthy handful of sugar. Yeah, it's sweet, and Mom always swore I never got it from her!

Buttermilk by all means. I mean, buttermilk to drink ain't worth the spittin' out, but it is essential in cornbreads, biscuits and all kinds of cakes.

To my way of making it, the egg is NOT optional. Don't skimp on the butter, neither! If half a stick is good, the whole damn stick is better!

Now to the bacon drippings. Do NOT add this fat to the mix! Every precious last drop of it goes into that large, black cast-iron skillet you should have prepped before you ever started mixing up a batter. So set the oven on 400F, put the bacon fat in the skillet, and set the skillet in the oven. NOW go to making a batter.

Dry mixes with dry and wet with wet. Combine wet and dry in a large mixing bowl (prefer glass) just until the blend is uniform and a bit bubbly. Don't over-stir it.

When -- and not until -- your skillet is screaming hot, carefully remove it from the oven and dump all the batter straight way into the smoking fat. Yeah, it's gonna bubble and sizzle like Satan's own tea around the edges, but never you mind that. Get that skillet back into the oven immediately, if not sooner.

Figure on 20 minutes, but your oven will vary. Keep an eye on it, but don't go opening that oven door no sooner than 15 minutes. We're looking for a rich golden brown top. Once out of the oven, let it set off-heat in the pan for another good 20 minutes.

IF you can wait that long ....

Photo stolen from Rick Ross

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Simmer Down Saturday, Fourth of July Eve Rag

gimme a A.
sound of a G chord strumming....

We're on the bed, there, like we NORMALly are
She's Hulu hoppin', I'm on the Umpteenth Plain of KLONDIKE
Wishin' I had a car. Not sure why. A car would be totally useless up
on Klondike Falls except to rhyme with "are"!

Waitin' for it to come around again like Arlo taught us to....

.... wishin' I had a car.
A Ford, a Lincoln, ev'na Merc'ry would do
Will chop and stroke and bore it into a Rescue
For Wayward Sensi Plants and Homeless Hemps, too

When 'cross the street the bombs start bursting in air!
The dogs cut loose, of course, givin' Cisco a scare ~
A foster dog, transient in the pack who'se never before seen nor heard tell of carryin' on like this before ~
We're up and at our windows; glad it's so dark
Save for the Rainbow Glow over Hamiltion Park!

and that's a whole 'nother song I haven't wrote yet,
the Rainbow Glow Over Hamilton Park
love me some scotus, HONK! HONK!

THEY're getting off, over at the Country Club.
THEY're shootin' a wad with rockets in the air!
The SWELLS are gettin' it on over at THE Country Club
While the Law allows we commoners cain't do that!

2 bee, or knot too B
by keeping it going
add a verse, a line, an aside
tag me back,

By Dawn's Early Light

Two hundred, thirty-nine years and counting of We, the People striving for a more perfect union.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Throw It Out Thursday

Throw It Out Thursday

I’m looking at three big boxes, side by side by side.

Box #1 is marked, “SELL.” Box #2 is labeled, “GIVE,” and the third simply says, “BURY.”


Donald Trump bounces into Bin #3 for all eternity or until I leave this world, whichever comes first. Bless his heart.  Needs his hardened human model replaced by a baboon's heart, provided said baboon died of natural causes unrelated to heart diseases. Maybe then he’d find some compassion.

Call it the 3-box solution to clearing out clutter. As you move about your particular enclosure, grab crap at random and ask yourself, “When was the last time I used this?” If you cannot answer immediately, if you have to think about it more than a couple or three seconds, whatever it is goes into a box. #1. #2. or #3.

If nothing else, you'll soon learn to look and think before touching!

Speaking of looking and thinking better: How long has it been since y'all've dropped in at Juanita Jean's, The World's Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc? Might wanna think about gettin' yourself in there, now that the political season is a simmering.

Friday of the Fourth

Friday of The Fourth ~ I'm hearin' Sgt. Joe "Justh the facths, ma'am" Friday with a lisp

It’s dark out, yet, at ten to six of a morning. Both windows, north and south, reflect on the black beyond with ghostly, shadow-like images. There’s my shadow self, looking for all the world like Gollum in an electric yellow tee, pecking away at his precious.
"Gollum" courtesy
 Dragonstooth Miniatures.

Good Friday morning, good friends and neighbors. Can you tell I was listening in on LR, The Liberal Redneck, yesterday? Normally I am not a fan of talk radio, because I've usually got my own channel booming through my head, making it difficult to hear someone else's bullshit above my own. But LR's hour yesterday with that Pee Dee, The Pagan Goddess, was an ear opener, to say the least.

"The Christian Right is gulping down the Kool~aid!"

"This must be the end of times!!"

"God cannot possibly allow this to pass!!!" 

But He has.

Once upon a time, Friday of the Fourth kicked off Camping Season, usually somewhere on Arrowhead ~ the state park or the backside of Hippie Beach, Pawnee Point in a pinch or all the way out to Tree in the Middle of the Road Park (TMRP).

I could tell ya where TMRP is, but then I'd have to get you into a witness protection program.

You know you're getting old when your youngest cub says, "Dad, it's too damned hot, muggy and buggy for that shit! 'Sides, NASCAR's on the TV!" I think that kind of let down The Kid, #2 "He Tries Harder" grandson, who's been looking forward to Camping With the Guys since landing back in his native state. He'll get his night out with the boys all in good time, but on the old men's terms. Don't tell The Kid, but I'm thinkin' somewhere down in Brewster County, maybe out around Christmas Mountain, some weekend come this fall.

Photo courtesy Sam Houston State University

Of course, I knew by a couple days ago, at least, we weren't going camping. Not this weekend of all weekends. I'm just relieved the boy backed out first.

Finally...maybe...if I don't run across something else. You HAD to know this was coming:

Photo courtesy Paws In The City