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.
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.