Historically cornbread has been around long before the first European settlers arrived. The Native American Indians taught the new settlers how to grind corn into corn meal to make “Pone”. Using a simple mixture of ground corn meal, water and salt this early version of cornbread became a valuable staple to the New settlers those first few years after their arrival. Cornbread was especially popular throughout the Civil War as it was quick and cheap to make. The ingredients used depended on the region; for instance, the addition of sugar and flour was typical of the North while the South favored an unsweetened version cooked in a cast iron skillet. Cornbread has had quite a makeover over the years. The variations are endless with each family claiming to have the best recipe ever.
You would think my dad being a farmer from Georgia would have passed along a treasured recipe. All we got was Betty Crocker and Jiffy. Needless to say I was never a fan of cornbread as it was always dry and flavorless. Then I met the Odoms in Woodville Texas. A loverly little town in East Texas with fresh air, tons of trees and lots of old 19th century houses. Odomville was a small community comprised of the descendants of the Odom family located about 30 minutes out of town heading East toward Fred Texas.
During my visits in Odomville I mostly enjoyed sitting at the kitchen table with Mr. Odom and Alice eating a square of cornbread. Alice died of old age shortly after I arrived in Woodville. It was a somber time for us all even more so for her beloved Mr. Odom. They had known one another since childhood and the loss was almost more than he could bare. I continued to visit Mr. Odom when in the area as I so enjoyed his stories of Odomville. And so it was on my last day in East Texas I was with him at the kitchen table once again sharing a meager snack of cornbread and milk.
I am extremely particular about cornbread. There are but two recipes I can say I have enjoyed one being Alice Odom’s recipe and the other one is this recipe for honey whole grain cornbread. The sweet kiss of honey mingles well with scrumptious earth grains. Serve as a side with chili or a salad.
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup whole grain flour
2/3 cup honey
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9X13 baking dish; set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix honey and butter until combined. Add eggs, buttermilk and soda; mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix cornmeal, flour and salt. Add flour mixture to milk mixture; folding just until combined. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
If you do not have a natural foods market near by Whole Grain Flour can be found in most supermarkets that sell Bob’s Red Mill flours. If you cannot find whole grain try blending 1 part kamut + 1 part spelt + 1 part hard white wheat.
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