Food isn't love. But it is culture and history, the warmth of belonging and tactile 'Yes!' that says you're home. And where home is. Ask any ex-pat.
Most folks have food traditions. One of our family favorites is Aunt Flossie's Jalapeno Cornbread. She was my grandmother's cousin's wife and in those Hill Country days, Aunt was pronounced Aint. Just like Mrs. was Miz. As in, "The Golden-Age Club voted Miz Bragg 'The Girl I Most Want Under the Apple Tree' the year she was 96. Most of the Golden Age guys were under 80 but Miz Bragg was cute and strong and smart and knew how to cook.
I never knew Aint Flossie but judging by her representation in our family cookbook, she knew her way around the stove. I know her cornbread has a fan base --some variation of it comes to table at most of our gatherings.
Aunt Flossie's Jalapeno Cornbread
Before stirring up the cornbread, spread a couple teaspoons oil in a #8 cast iron skillet (mine is 8 3/4" across the bottom and approx. 10" rim-to-rim) and put it in the oven while you preheat it to 400 degrees. Starting the cornbread in a hot greased skillet gives a nice crisp bottom crust.
1 c yellow cornmeal
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c buttermilk
1 c creamed corn (I use frozen corn kernels & add a dollop of buttermilk if the mixture seems dry.)
1/4 c bacon drippings (nowadays we use canola oil)
1 med onion, minced
2 lg jalapeno peppers, minced. *The jalapeno heat mellows in cooking so leave the seeds in for a bite. If I'm in a hurry I substitute a tsp or so of red pepper flakes.
1/2 lb. grated cheddar cheese ** I usually omit the cheese layer and add a light sprinkle of low-fat cheddar on top. A hit of toasted cheese flavor, fewer calories.
If you want to make it like my mother does, use the creamed corn and layer the cheese.
Mix all ingredients except cheese. Pour 1/2 batter into hot skillet. Spread grated cheese over this. Pour remaining batter over the cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes until top is brown. Let stand to set. Slice and serve from skillet.
Enjoy with loved ones, and memories.
Copyright 2009-2011 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.