By C.C. Horne, Contributing Writer and Junior at Converse College
For many Americans, life has flipped on its side because of the coronavirus. Despite the pandemic, many try to make the most out of their situation.
One shift is that preparing food at home is becoming the new normal. This became true for me as well.
After returning home from Converse College to begin online schooling, I started spending more time learning to master the stove and oven, something not easily available to me at my college dorm. My progress has been a teetering one. There are days where I fry a good breakfast of scrambled eggs, crisp turkey bacon, and French toast sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Then there are days where I cook pancakes, except one is too dry, one is too burnt, and one has flip landed on the stove, the uncooked side spilling over the glass top in gooey streams.
The idea to oven bake cornbread while staying at home came from my grandmother. She grew up in the small town of Camden, S.C. and from a young age she would often visit her older sister who crafted an excellent cornbread and vegetable soup.
Cornbread is a kind of food that is distinct to the American south, similar to fried chicken, homestyle macaroni n’ cheese, or grits.
The ingredients needed were fairly basic, and likely already accessible in the average household. It was a box of Jiffy’s corn muffin mix, ⅓ cup milk, and 1 egg. A muffin pan, bowl, measuring cup, and Crisco shortening were also needed to complete the cornbread muffins. Before even beginning, we washed our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dried them with disposable paper towels. I would recommend anyone wanting to make cornbread to proceed with these steps.
First, preheat the oven to 400 °F. Do this first since the oven will take a while to heat up. Next, take a spoonful of Crisco and lather it in the pan. Make sure to spread the shortening evenly, that way there won’t be any risk of the cornbread sticking. After, I suggest sticking the pan in the oven for a few minutes to let the shortening soften.
After that prep work was out of the way I poured the mix, egg and milk into the bowl. If you don’t have milk, you can substitute ⅓ cup of water. Then blend the ingredients until the batter has formed a slight lumpy consistency. Let the batter rest 3 minutes before filling the pan ⅔ full.
Lastly, bake the batter for 15 – 20 minutes until the cornbread muffins look golden brown. Once the muffin top has fully risen, a thin slice of butter can be placed over the top so that it melts through the cornbread.
At that point, the cornbread was ready and steaming. All that was left was to bite into the golden goodness from southern cuisine. It smelled amazing and tasted even better. I guarantee its warmth and tinge of sweetness makes it such a charming food to enjoy. Bon appétit!
Local Southern Cooking
If you’re not quite ready to master cooking a Southern style meal, local restaurant Taste of Home takes its food truck out to various locations around Laurens and Spartanburg throughout the week. The Woodruff location is currently closed, but the Laurens restaurant is open for carryout.