This week the weather has been cold and blustery. I held back on turning on the furnace until yesterday, (October 1) but it was pretty obvious that fall had already come in with the equinox.
The first fall-like thing I did was to uproot my zucchini plants and pick a bunch of tomatoes and green beans at my community garden plot. It seems that when the plants get cold the flavor goes gets pinched and bitter too, as if all the sugars are being used just to keep the plants warm.
Then, soup was made. This one had garden vegetables, pork, and beans. I had some leftover polenta, so I grilled that and added it at the table, for extra-ribsticking. The sad, cold vegetables were much tastier after a bath in this protein-rich broth.
On the side, a triple corn cornbread I invented, with homemade sour cherry jelly, cold butter and local honey.
I have come to realize that baking is not the science that my home ec teacher thought it was. Rather it is an art that employs scientific methods. Many of my best creations happen when I start making something and then realize I am missing the main ingredient. This is how I found I could make corn bread without cornmeal. And so can you. Here's the analog version:
Put 2 T butter in a heavy pan 9-10" pan to pre-heat with the oven set at 425 F. Cast iron is best.
In a separate bowl, pour 2 C boiling water over 1C polenta, cover and let sit 10 min.
Then mix in 1/4 C buttermilk, about 1T of the now-melted butter, and 2 egg yolks. (save the whites.)
Now add 1t salt, 1t Baking Powder, 1/2t baking soda, 1/4 C white flour, 1/4 C Masa Harina, and 2T flax seed meal.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in. Pour in the pan (it will be moist). Bake for about 20 min or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The heaviness of the polenta with be offset by the fluffy egg-whites.
My mom used to make a corn bread from the Tassajara cookbook that settled into three levels, one of which was custardy. Do you all have your favorites?