One of my favorite things about being southern is being southern but not really being southern. I was born in Kentucky but raised in northern Illinois by parents who were born and raised in small-town Kentucky and backwoods Georgia. I grew up just outside of Chicago but we ate grits and drank sweet tea and (much to the delight of my friends) my parents said “y’all.”
I feel like this “biculturalism,” if you will, affords me a sort of dual citizenship. I get to pick and choose what I like about each region and apply it to my identity and abandon the rest. From the Midwest it’s all cornfields and cumulous clouds and crisp fall mornings. Down south it’s yes ma’am and no sir and family and tradition and cornbread.
My Grandmother Betty makes the best cornbread I’ve ever eaten in my life, and I’ve mentioned before here that I suspect it is most certainly made with some sort of animal fat in an iron skillet older than this fine country we call home. Some things I just choose to ignore.
While I can’t replicate Grandmother’s cornbread (even with the recipe it wouldn’t be the same), I did find at least a suitable stand in earlier this week.
This recipe is a vegan adaptation of Bittman’s cornbread from How to Make Everything Vegetarian. (This is the best cookbook I own.)
- 1.25 cups nondairy milk + 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ground flax
- 2 tablespoons Earth Balance
- 1.5 cups cornmeal
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Combine the milk, vinegar and flax and let sit.
- Place an 8×8 dish over medium heat on the stove to melt Earth Balance. Remove from heat once the butter melts to prevent burning. Set aside.
- In a bowl, combine all remaining dry ingredients.
- Add wet ingredients to dry. Stir to incorporate. Pour into greased dish.
- Bake for 25 minutes on 375 degrees until the top is lightly browned.
For the record, cornbread is to be salty, not sweet. If you must have sweet cornbread (there is something wrong with you and) you can add 1 tablespoon of sugar to your dry ingredients. Don’t do this.