March 13, 2007

Cornbread Cake

Last night it was barbeque chicken. We had loosely planned our meals for two weeks, and though I knew it was BBQ chicken night, I hadn't really figured out any sides yet. I wasn't keen on canned veggies, and I couldn't remember what fresh veggies were around. (It's been a busy few weeks, and who keeps their pantry / fridge inventory memorized anyway?)
BUT -- I always have buttermilk pancake mix on hand, and I happened to have some corn meal left over from when I made Elise's wonderful creamy polenta last week. And I seemed to recall that a close friend of ours used to make her cornbread with pancake mix and corn meal. In our recipe box, it's listed as "Aunt Elizabeth's Cornbread". And cornbread always goes with BBQ. Besides, I've been thinking about Mimi's Bisquick Day event, and thought why not another mix? It'd certainly be faster, and the kids will eat it.
Some years ago, I was stationed with the U.S. Marines in the middle east. We'd been eating MRE's for several weeks, and when you're eating MRE's, I can tell you, the novelty wears off about halfway through lunch the first day. So eventually, they assigned us a Marine Cook, who was also an amateur boxer who hailed from Louisiana. I was assigned to KP, which I really didn't mind at all. This guy was sweating it out with us and saved us from the MRE's, I'm only too happy to help him out. He picked up a can of cornbread mix, cleverly concocted by one of Uncle Sam's culinary alchemists, and said "Can you read, doc?" (I was a corpsman a few lifetimes ago) I said "Yes, Staff Sergeant." So he tossed me the can and said "Make this." So I looked at the instructions, and noticed it said "optional -- n Cups sugar." Then I said "uh, staff sergeant...this says you can optionally use sugar." He shot me a Marine Corps Boxer look, rather than a Marine Corps Cook look (and I think the distinction is subtle, at best) and barked -- "NO! You NEVER put sugar in corn bread!! That ain't cornbread, - that's cake!"
So, Aunt Elizabeth's cornbread, as it's referred to in our recipe box, is being posted as Cornbread Cake, because even though it's been 16 years, -- I still defer to the Staff Sergeant on this one. But it's not a dessert cake, it's a ok-for-the-kids-to-eat-at-dinner cake. And it's tasty besides.

2 Cups buttermilk pancake mix
6 Tbsp cornmeal
1 Cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Cup milk
1/2 cup margarine (melted)

Mix the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Then mix the milk and egg together, and add them to the dry stuff. Mix all that together, then add the margarine. Mix everything together and pour into a greased 9x9 pan. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

You no doubt noticed from the picture, I used a #8 cast iron skillet. As long as it's well-seasoned, it works better than the pan.


Erika said...

Yum! I am with the sugar camp... I know true southerners abhore sugar in their conrbread, but I like mine with just a touch of sweet.

I love the story.

Charles said...

Erika, -- I think (personally) it's more than just a touch of sweet, but it's still tasty.
funny what things stick with us. I can't remember that SSgt's name. But I can see his face, and hear the conversation like it was yesterday.

Kristen said...

Oh yummy! That looks so good!