Appalachia Appalachian Food

The Last Day Of Mountain Flavors

Today is the last day of my Mountain Flavors Class. It has been a blast! Fantastic students-fantastic food-and fantastic fellowship. I told the class “I won’t know how to act next week when I’m back at my regular job.” I’ll be saying “When’s the breakfast bell going to ring? Where’s my dinner!!?” And I’m positive my co-workers will remind me I’m back in the real world and not at the folk school any more.

The last day of class will be about the 2 most common types of breads baked in Appalachia: biscuits and cornbread.

How to make southern cornbread

 

Folks in Appalachia-and in the south in general-take their cornbread seriously. I’m sure you’ve heard the jokes about how cornbread isn’t supposed to be sweet and it isn’t supposed to be cut in squares. Growing up we either had cornbread or biscuits with our meals-most of the time it was cornbread.

Southern cornbread recipe

 

Various recipes for cornbread are used throughout the country-even in my house. I make my cornbread one way-and The Deer Hunter makes his a different way (thats him showing off his cornbread in the photo above). I think the absolute must for making good cornbread-is the pan. It must be cast iron and it must be heated first-to get the type of cornbread that is preferred at my house.

The Deer Hunter is one of those cooks who throws a little of this and a little of that in, cooks it all up-and viola it’s delicious. For his cornbread he coats a cast iron pan with veg. oil, places it in the oven to heat, then-mixes up cornmeal (we both prefer white-and we use self-rising), a little flour, one egg, a little veg. oil, a dash of sugar, and some milk.  He sprinkles cornmeal on to the hot pan, pours the batter in-and bakes till done.

I’m one of those cooks who likes recipes:

Tipper’s Cornbread

  • 2 cups self rising white cornmeal
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup veg. oil
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • shortening or lard

Making cornbread in a cast iron pan

 

*before I even turn the oven on-I grease a cast iron pan liberally with shortening-if I happened to have real lard I’d use that. I put the pan in the oven and set it too 475 degrees.

*put 2 cups of white self-rising cornmeal into a mixing bowl

Cornbread in cast iron pan

 

*mix egg, oil, and milk together-and pour into bowl with cornmeal and mix thoroughly.

Sometimes-if I’m low on milk I’ll use a small can of evaporated milk mixed with a half cup of water to make up part of the 1 1/3 cups milk needed.

 

*once the oven has heated to 475-carefully take the hot pan out and pour the batter into it. You can see from the photo-the batter will instantly start to sizzle-so be careful not to get burned. Put pan back in oven and cook for 20 minutes or until done.

Recipe for cornbread

 

Many folks-love cornbread crumbled in a glass of milk-I never acquired a taste for it. Probably my favorite way to eat cornbread is straight from the oven slathered in butter-coming in a close second is cornbread with soup beans.

Tipper

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan
    November 28, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Hope to reach you by this post. All new posts since fall will not let me communicate with you. Thank you Tipper, you and your family for your daily blog. You are one of my blessings. Please check why I cannot get through.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    July 24, 2014 at 8:01 am

    My Aunt Jean (Hyatt) from NC taught me cornbread at an early age. No lard or vegetable oil for us! BACON fat! Yep, I’m one who keeps my bacon drippings in a container in the fridge (and woe be to my husband if he ever throws it away again). 1/4 cup into the cast iron pan and heat it on the stove to melt it down. Then pour it into the batter, stir and then into the “spittin’ hot” pan and THEN into the oven. Makes such a wonderful crust on the bottom! Dang, how I miss my Aunt Jean! She’d have adored this blog!

  • Reply
    Quinn
    July 20, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Congratulations on your class – bet that week flew by, and bet your students all had a great time and learned a lot! Thanks for posting the recipes here, too. Maybe I’ll finally get over my pie crust hurdle. using your recipe. I already know I love your cornbread! Your recipe is the one I’ve been using since the first time I tried it, which was about a year ago. Perfect!

  • Reply
    Tipper
    July 18, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Ed-I don’t add flour-but The Deer Hunter does : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    July 18, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    I love my wife’s yellow cornbread. She uses bacon grease on the skillet. My grandson told her that he liked it better than cake. My Grandaddy ate cornbread and milk almost every night for supper. I never could eat it either.

  • Reply
    Sherry
    July 18, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Ummmm good, Tipper. I make my cornbread just like you. No sugar for me! So happy to try all these recipes! Just got back from your mountains! We rode the Smoky Mtn Railroad! I cannot seem to soak up enough of that majestic scenery to last me. Ahhhh, God is so good! So glad He made mountains!

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    July 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Like you, I bake our cornbread the same.I ALLWAYS heat the pan first (that makes yummy crust). My dad always crumbles it in his buttermilk. I like it like you do, fresh from the oven with butter. And one of my favorite meals would be fresh corn bread with a bowl of beans, chopped onion and, cole slaw. Another would be cornbread, fresh pole beans with potatoes, cole slaw, corn on the cob and fresh sliced tomatoes, cucumber and onion. You can’t get better than that! Oh my, I may have to make some for supper.
    Enjoyed your cooking sessions!
    Pam

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 18, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Tipper,
    I love cornbread and mine is about the
    same as the Deer Hunter’s and yours.
    But no sugar. Since my gall bladder
    won’t process cornbread well, I add as
    much flour as meal. When I make corn-
    bread, I try to get Mayfield’s thick
    Buttermilk and have a feast. Pinto beans ain’t worth fixin’ without cornbread, in my opinion. Thanks for sharing some of the things you’ve learned at the Folk School…Ken

  • Reply
    Susi Jones Pentico
    July 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Tipper,
    This is a big cornbread house way out here in southern California. I grew up in N. Calif. and we had cornbread and milk for breakfast, or lunch or dessert at night.
    Mom cooked it generally in a cast iron skillet. My heavy skillets went with government shipping to heavy. I use Corning Ware generally and it does the job. I loved the flavor of the cast iron skillet even for eggs etc. Beginning to think we got a lot of Scott ancestral line in Mom’s side carried down. They were in Virginia and Kentucky up to IA to Wyo To CA. Here we also chop and drop jalepeno peppers in the mix and a sprinkle of good cheddar cheese.
    Thanks

  • Reply
    Susi Jones Pentico
    July 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Tipper,
    This is a big cornbread house way out here in southern California. I grew up in N. Calif. and we had cornbread and milk for breakfast, or lunch or dessert at night.
    Mom cooked it generally in a cast iron skillet. My heavy skillets went with government shipping to heavy. I use Corning Ware generally and it does the job. I loved the flavor of the cast iron skillet even for eggs etc. Beginning to think we got a lot of Scott ancestral line in Mom’s side carried down. They were in Virginia and Kentucky up to IA to Wyo To CA. Here we also chop and drop jalepeno peppers in the mix and a sprinkle of good cheddar cheese.
    Thanks

  • Reply
    Susi Jones Pentico
    July 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Tipper,
    This is a big cornbread house way out here in southern California. I grew up in N. Calif. and we had cornbread and milk for breakfast, or lunch or dessert at night.
    Mom cooked it generally in a cast iron skillet. My heavy skillets went with government shipping to heavy. I use Corning Ware generally and it does the job. I loved the flavor of the cast iron skillet even for eggs etc. Beginning to think we got a lot of Scott ancestral line in Mom’s side carried down. They were in Virginia and Kentucky up to IA to Wyo To CA. Here we also chop and drop jalepeno peppers in the mix and a sprinkle of good cheddar cheese.
    Thanks

  • Reply
    Tom
    July 18, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Tipper-WOW! That class of yours this week sure went fast. Enjoyed hearing about what a great experience it was for you and the students.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 18, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Tipper-Your recipe doesn’t mention flour. Do you use a cornmeal mix, which has flour in it? I use two parts self rising cornmeal mix to one of self rising flour, so mine is about half flour, but I make what I like and like what I make and everybody that don’t like what I make can make their own.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    July 18, 2014 at 11:20 am

    You are surely covering one of my favorite subjects today–cornbread. I love it, and one time I was out of flour and light bread, so I ate leftover cornbread with morning eggs. It was delish, but sounds like bad combination.
    I must get back to the old ways when my cornbread was once superb. I make a bland cornbread with trying to use Pam with no lard to cut down on all the stuff the Docs fuss about, and of course leaving out the egg yolk.
    When I actually made melt-in your-mouth cornbread I used several tricks learned from the old ways. I always mixed with buttermilk which gave it that extra kick, and I was taught right before it was completely done to turn off the oven and let it finish browning…this resulted in a crunchier crust for some reason. If it is a little hard throw a tea towel over it and the steam softens. We all have our ways, but have never really met a bad batch of cornbread even when it is crumbling everywhere. Now biscuits are different, and it helps if the cook has some Appalachian roots.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 18, 2014 at 11:07 am

    My mother always made her cornbread in a 9×13 cake pan. Her cornbread was a little more cakey than most people make today. Hers held together better. We didn’t cut it, we broke it. Most of the time the bottom crust would peel off, sometimes the whole thing in one sheet. The other kids didn’t necessarily like the crust, but I did. I would beg borrow or steal all I could get. I would spread mustard or catsup on it then roll it up like a taquito.
    I can’t make cornbread like Mommy did and don’t know anyone who can. I know she didn’t add egg or sugar. I know she sat the pan on top of the wood stove, melted lard in the pan and poured most of it in the batter (yes, it was thin like cake batter.) I know she rocked the pan around and sometimes dropped it on the floor to level the batter. Not dropped like you imagine, she could bend over and put her hands, palm down, on the floor, so it was like a low table to her.
    Sometimes she would leave her cornbread on top of the stove a little while before she put it in the oven. To get a good crust started, maybe.
    After she put the cornbread in the oven, she would look at it once in a while and give it a half or quarter turn. She adjusted the temperature as needed by adding wood to the fire and/or opening and closing the damper.
    Precious memories!

  • Reply
    Wanda
    July 18, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I usually use oil but bacon grease sure tastes good. Put the grease in the pan & sprinkle with cornmeal (helps it not stick) & put in 450 oven until cornmeal is brown. I don’t have a recipe–just eyeball it but I do use self-rising “corn meal mix”, an egg & whatever milk is on hand & water will do in a pinch. I put the meal in bowl first & add the milk & egg off to one side where I beat it together first & then mix into the meal.
    I have a dedicated iron skillet for cornbread for just us & a bigger one for company which I also fry fish in 7 fried pies. Family size skillet was a wedding gift from a dear old friend who said she gave one to all her kids when they married–she considered me one of them, too which was a great honor to me.
    We would eat cornbread every day. I love buttered cornbread with a sweet onion & garden tomatoes. Also any vegetable supper especially with beans & peas. Must have with homemade soup & wilted lettuce & onions.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    July 18, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Well Tipper, if your post does not inspire folks to get busy baking a cake of cornbread, I reckon they just may be on the lazy side of life.
    We will be in Ga and NC for family reunions this weekend. But there may not be any cornbread on the grand spread in the Wike Cemetery on Sunday. But we will do fine and then we will make a big STOP @ THE WILLY NELSON CONCERT @ UT on Sunday evening. In my 15 years of teaching in Nashville, I NEVER SAW WILLY PERFORM. BUT THAT GRAND MOMENT IS GOING TO HAPPEN SUNDAY, IF THE GOOD LORD IS WILLEN!
    Cheers,
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    July 18, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Something that Miz Susan took to doing which I’ve copied is to put about half a stick of butter in the pan when you put it in to pre-warm. It makes a beautiful and tasty crust and there is zero sticking to the pan.

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    July 18, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Cornbread looks good,makes me want to make some right now. I make mine the same way even heating the cast iron skillet first. I have a question for Blind Pig readers, switching from corn bread to beans. I have some white half runner strings beans that have been picked a few days. Does anyone know if I can dry these maybe in my hot attic? Or another way? then shell them and just use the beans. Help please Blind Pig?
    Thanks,
    Cheryl in Kentucky

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 18, 2014 at 8:35 am

    One of my favorite things is cornbread! And my favorite dessert is cornbread crumbled in a tall glass with sweet milk. To me, that is as tasty as any cake or pie for dessert.

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    July 18, 2014 at 8:15 am

    No buttermilk? I am very sorry.

  • Reply
    Joji
    July 18, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Lord I love cornbread……I guess I better make some tonight….I save my bacon grease and use it along with 1/2 buttermilk 1/2 milk. I also do like Deer Hunter and heat that pan with grease real hot before I put in the mix. No sugar though. My mouth is watering and its only 8:00 in the morning….

  • Reply
    dolores
    July 18, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Another tempting way to start or end the day. I like my cornbread with honey on it. I enjoy the sweetness and the texture in my mouth. I am saving this recipe for a future time. Thanks for the yummy recipe.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 18, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Tipper–I’ll offer a number of alternatives to your (and the Deer Hunter’s) approach to making cornbread.
    First and foremost, I think stone-ground meal is far better than the store-bought, “hot ground” stuff. I personally prefer yellow but that isn’t a big deal.
    Second, try “seasoning” that cast iron skillet with a piece of streaked meat. Get the pan warm and rub that streaked meat all over it until it shines like a new penny. Or fry up the streaked meat first to season the pan, and when you pour off the grease save it and use instead of oil in your batter.
    Third, and now we are getting into the cholesterol-laced, sho’ ’nuff tummy tickling scheme of things, you just might want to put a handful of cracklin’s in that batter. I must admit it’s been a long time since I had craklin’ cornbread, but Momma and especially Grandma made it regularly.
    Whatever, you’ve done gone and made me hungry, and here I am far from home ad untold miles from a glass of milk and crumbled cornbread.
    Jim Casada
    http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com
    third

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 18, 2014 at 7:36 am

    I did not know to heat the pan first. Other than that, your version is the way I make mine. Heating the pan next time I make it!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 18, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Both those cakes of cornbread look mighty fine to me. You and the Deer Hunter are both very good cooks. I prefer white cornmeal also. I’m not sure why, it just seems to taste better to me. I also like a little coarser grind than you can get in the grocery store. I used to order meal from a mill near Brevard NC. The woman, wife of the owner, would send my 5 or 10 pound package with the postage receipt taped to the outside. When I got the package I mailed her a check for the meal plus the postage showing on the outside. You can’t order anything now without paying up front. That was a different time and different people. Her name was May and I called her when I needed more cornmeal. Ordering from the mill I could get it fresh with no preservatives. I stored it in the freezer.
    I cook like the Deer Hunter, without strict measurements. I add the amount of milk needed to make it the right texture for baking. I use a cast iron skillet We used to always keep one skillet exclusive for cornbread baking. That way it stayed seasoned to perfection without ever sticking.
    One of my all time favorite meals is cornbread crumbled in a bowl covered with soupy well cooked Pinto beans topped with chopped sweet onion…..well cooked pinto beans is a whole different discussion!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 18, 2014 at 7:34 am

    PS…Sorry Deerhunter, no sugar in my cornbread! I’ve been known to add a bit of flour if I need a cakey type bread for some reason.
    Cornbread crumbled in milk for a snack or even for lunch was our fare when I was a kid. There wasn’t a lot of junk food as they say today but always cornbread on top of the stove or in the oven!
    My Mother wanted hers crumbled in buttermilk and sprinkled with salt and pepper..ewww, not me!
    She also, as I have mentioned before, ate black walnuts mixed with cornbread, like a dessert!
    I have heard of this since commenting on it before, it must be a true mountain Appalachian thing.
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    TimMc
    July 18, 2014 at 6:17 am

    I haven’t commented this week but everything look delicious, eating as well as you all obviously do, how do you all stay so thin? Probably cause you stay so busy…

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 18, 2014 at 5:58 am

    Tipper,
    I am trying to think of the times we have cornbread. With garden vegetable soup, stew, chili, green beans, black-eyed or field peas, mixed beans, pinto beans and greens, also fish if we don’t have time for hush puppies, or just drop a thicker batter into the hot fish oil for flat puppies when camping, etc. Rarely have cornbread with beef unless it’s in the stew or chili!
    When making a regular pone for supper, I always use as we drink it here all the time, skim milk! The other day for the stuffed squash recipe, I used evaporated milk and water. For making stuffing for the holidays I always use buttermilk and use buttermilk until I have used up the container. Mom used a square pan, Dad used a cast iron skillet. I use a cast iron skillet. I am careful to get my pan good and hot and with enough oil or shortening in it before pouring in batter. I hate for the middle to stick and I hate to have to re-season my cast iron pans!
    Great post Tipper, I have enjoyed all your recipes this week. I know everyone will miss the class and I am sure learned a lot!
    Thanks Tipper,

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