Foods for Thoughts

American and European Customs and Cooking Flavored

               with Autobiographical Anecdotes                  

by Carolesweb

 

                                                                                

                                                                               

                                                                                                       

 

Autumn has arrived-my favorite season,
and with it a myriad of traditions and festivals.
Most are connected to a special food or meal,
and I love celebrating them in turn.
These are the days of taking in the harvest,
honoring the good wills of Nature.
In the States Thanksgiving is celebrated at the the end of November.
In Germany Erntedank is at the beginning of October.


For me that means potatoes in the cellar,
enough wood for our woodburning stove,
an abundance of black tea in the cupboard,
20 liters of Sicilian olive oil, a basket of apples,
a bit of apricot jam, a couple of bottles of Barolo.
Mid November I will bake some Christmas Stollen,
so that they will be ripe in time for the beginning of Advent.
For now I've baked a cornbread. It tastes great on its own, or with butter,
or with grilled pumpkin and potatoes, or grilled chicken.
I like it best on its own still warm from the oven.
This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks.
Certainly it is one of my first and very influential in the way I cook,
the Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas.
I bought a paperback version of it when I moved to England at 23,
and used it thoroughly until all of the pages fell out,
at which point I sadly but respectfully threw it in the bin.
Amazingly enough, you can get it on Kindle, which I now have.
So here is her recipe.

Serves 4 to 6 generously—and that’s the way
you have to serve this bread.
1¼ cups unbleached white flour
¾ cup whole-grain corn meal (stone-ground if possible)
4 Tbs. sugar
5 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 Tbs. melted butter
Stir everything up well. Spread the batter in a buttered 9-inch pie dish
and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 30 to 35 minutes,
or until it is lightly browned around the edges. Serve hot with butter.

I have added a can of corn kernels, a spring onion, and
a teaspoon tip of hot pepper oil.
In the Summer I can usually get some really hot peppers
which are sliced thin and kept in a little jar of olive oil in the fridge.

Besides Julia Child who I watched on TV after school,
some books that I have read from back to cover more than once are
Italian Food by Elizabeth David
Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé
Cuisine de Jardin (Meals from the Garden) by Ralf Kabelitz.

 

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The Vegetarian Epicure: i still have our copy of the book, a 1980 christmas present from my mother! We cooked with it, and also Molly Katzen's The Moosewood cookbook- and as we got serious about bread, we turned to the Tassajara book on bread ( after the James Beard bread book)
But the funny thing is that my first trials in the kitchen happened in Binghamton, and with corn bread: i enjoyed the corn bread served in the dorm food halls and when i moved off campus, corn bread (and its history) was the first subject i looked up in the local library and learned to bake. I liked it, and still do, plain, eaten still warm slathered in butter- if ever in afternoon tea mode: butter and runny honey. Wonderful memories which your posts evoke: i still go 'back' to particular recipes even if we moved on to the Handmade loaf and leavened bread a couple of years ago-- and in Corsica, i use polenta for the corn bread when i run out of classic corn meal brought back from the States.
the pictures you take are beautiful and i so enjoy the stories and anecdotes, many of which bring up memories past and more recent.

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I love sharing this with you. I often start writing and divert to an unpremeditated path during the course of my thoughts.
What did you find out about the history?

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