Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Old Holiday Recipes

For years--decades--Joyce and I kept a clutter of old family holiday recipes (and other recipes for more mundane days), well, in a clutter.

Then one day ... a year or so ago ... a flash of insight! We realized we could put each one in a plastic sleeve, put each sleeve in a three-ring binder! Eureka! No ancient Greek discovering the principle of water displacement in his own bathtub could have been more excited.

We have a section in the notebook (yes, we are nerds; yes, we use dividers) devoted to holiday recipes. Among them are the white fruitcake and steamed pudding recipes my grandmother Osborn used. I make them every Christmas, varying only slightly from her instructions. I've also patched together a recipe I use to make the sourdough Christmas-tree bread we have every Christmas morning. A fruit-filled bread shaped like a tree.
Christmas, 2015
But there's one recipe for bread--cornbread--that I make by following strictly the instructions in an old cookbook--The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. I can't remember if this was my mom's copy--or if it's one we acquired early in our marriage (December 1969), but I do know that we've had that book a long, long time (the stained, faded, fragile pages bear mute witness).
The cornbread recipe is basic and quick: white flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, oil, milk. Bake 20-25 min in 425 oven. Simple, simple, simple.

Except when it isn't.

Every now and then I have a mild cornbread disaster (seems a contraction, I know--but it's definitely a disaster, but on the Hindenberg scale? mild). Like yesterday.

I made a double batch, baked in two Pyrex cake pans that I had sprayed with oil until they dripped.

But the cornbread didn't care.

It stuck. Clung to the pans with the reluctance--no, ferocity--of a kid to his mom on the first day of kindergarten.

Finally--temperature soaring near the boiling point--I simply scraped out one pan, knowing that the resultant mess didn't really matter: We were going to use it for the turkey stuffing on Thanksgiving. No biggie.

The other one? I sliced it in eighths. Tore out one of the slices (put its ruined self in the other sad bag for stuffing), then was able to use a spatula to remove the others in more or less decent shape. (I tasted some; it was great.)

But I wanted to have some slices to serve on Thanksgiving, too. Slices that looked, you know, unabused. So ... today ... I baked another (single) batch in one of those non-stick metal pans (I still sprayed the hell out of it), and ...

... success! It slipped easily out of the pan, as if it knew, otherwise, that it had a date with the disposer.

Now, the only problem: Keeping our hands offa it until Bird Day.

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