Seriously, Cornbread

Durham, one of the most diverse, tolerant cities in the nation is my much loved home.  I wouldn’t trade living in the Bull City for anything.  It’s a funky, lively, friendly burg that is willing to give every person and idea a fair shake.

And yet, up until a few weeks ago I was guilty of a prejudice, which was acknowledged to anyone who cared to ask.  I had no patience for this particular belief system and harbored serious doubts about the character and stability of its adherents.

I love too.  Steaks, burgers, pork chops, scrambled eggs, bacon…

I’m not very proud to admit it but, I was utterly bigoted against all things vegan.  I was convinced it was the flavorless choice of persnickety, joyless, holier-than-thou people with whom I wouldn’t want to be stuck next to at a dinner party.  I mean, they can’t eat honey, but bread is okay.  Yeast is a living organism too, right?

But then, at Whole Foods, I discovered the moistest, most delicious cornbread I’ve ever eaten, and was completely flabbergasted to discover that it was vegan.

Whenever I eat something that I really like, I try to get the recipe to share with you, gentle reader.  If the answer is no, often I try to come up with a recipe which is inspired by what I’ve eaten.

I’d say my success rate is 85-90%.  Funnily enough, I’ve never had anyone offer the recipe but refuse permission to print it.

Getting this one was a little tricky.

Unlike an independently owned and operated business, or where the recipe is owned by the individual, Whole Foods has a corporate structure.  The bakers at your local store can’t just give out the recipes all helter skelter-like.

I was directed to contact Pat Parker, the baker in charge of 38 Whole Foods bakeries in the South.  He generously sent me the recipe for the corn bread.  But its arrival brought with it a number of new complications.

Being much more precise, professional bakers use weight, not measure.  Meaning instead of 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour, it will be 6.75 ounces, or 180 grams, because to confuse things further for the home baker, sometimes recipes are in metric.

And, if a bakery is going to make something, say cookies, they don’t make a home amount like two or three dozen, it’s more like twenty dozen.  So then, the ounces in the recipe become pounds.

And that is what Mr. Parker sent me.

I converted the recipe to ounces, and reduced the amount by 75%.  But, I felt that after two such drastic conversions, that to convert to cups and tablespoons would be pure folly.  It would be like translating a novel from Russian to English, then putting the whole thing in iambic pentameter.  I was afraid that instead of making corn bread, you would get some kind of mutated abomination that would climb out of the oven under its own steam, and steal your car.

So, the recipe is in ounces.  But I don’t recommend attempting this unless you have a very accurate digital scale.  My scale is analog, and I’m too chicken to give it a go.

Whole Foods vegan cornbread

vegan cornbread

0.65 ounces Baking Powder

0.156 ounces Baking Soda

2.06 ounces Frozen Corn Kernels

7.75 ounces Yellow Corn meal

.25 ounce Egg Replacement

3.71 ounces Evaporated Cane Juice

4.45 ounces Canola Oil

6.2 ounces Pastry Flour

0.165 ounces salt

12.375 ounces Soy Milk

3.09 ounces water

Rub a couple teaspoons oil into cast iron skillet and put in oven.  Preheat to 375 degrees.

Sift together baking powder, baking soda, corn meal, pastry flour, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together egg replacement, cane juice, oil, milk, and water.  Add corn kernels.

With wooden spoon, combine wet and dry until just mixed.  Do not beat. 

Pour into skillet and bake 15-20 minutes or just until it browns around the edges and center springs back when touched by finger.

Makes 1-10 inch skillet which serves 6-8.

So I will leave you with two pieces of information about me.

I’ve rethunk my whole vegan people/vegan food bias.  And, when I want some more of that fabulicious corn bread, I think I’ll probably head over to Whole Foods, and buy it.

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Thanks for your time.

 

Ate My Fill On Blueberry Hill

About six years ago, I was disgusted.  And also, scornful.

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That’s me in 11th grade with my best buddy, Waldo.  Fat and spotty–it’s a wonder that boys weren’t lined up around the clock…

Since junior high my weight had stayed around 185.  I’d fluctuate; from an infrequent low of 160 to my max weight of 227 after The Kid’s birth.

But finally, I made a decision.  My weight was creeping back up to 200, and my clothes felt tight and uncomfortable.  I was sick and tired of being fat.

This time, I made two changes that made all the difference.

I increased my activity level from nonexistent to light.  As I got healthier, I moved more.

And I finally realized that losing weight was just the beginning.  I had to keep the weight off once I reached my goal.  But I also knew there was no way I could live the rest of my life only eating rice cakes and poached chicken.  A life without potato salad and cake was not a life in which I wanted to participate.

My primary strategy would be to limit calories.  One meal per day would have a maximum of 300 calories.  Then I’d eat a normal dinner with unlimited fresh fruit or veg between meals and a bite of something sweet before bed.

This is an actual picture of me, grazing.

This I could live with.

I had another tactic.  I would absolutely not eat flavorless “diet food”.  I held “frou-frou” food in complete disdain.  Most healthy swaps little resembled the food they were imitating, and not only did they not hit the spot, they had no idea where the spot was, or what to do with the spot if, on the offside chance, the spot was located.

But.

If there’s a healthier option for something, I give it a go.  If I’m unable to tell the difference between the more voluptuous version and its healthier variation, I go for healthier.

This diet philosophy worked.  It’s been five years now, and my weight stays around 128 pounds.  I wished I’d figured it out decades ago.

Last week when Petey and I were in Whole Foods, Demo Specialist Joe DiBario had a table set up and was serving Portobello sliders.  For dessert, he’d made a delicious treat that I ended up buying.  At home, after I polished it off, I called the store and asked for the recipe.

It’s a creamy blueberry pudding topped with goji berries and cooked dried apples.  I could eat a bowl of the apples and goji by themselves.  They’d make an awesome topping for all kinds of things, like oatmeal, or pancakes, or even on pork chops.

It becomes pudding by using chia seeds, a food that a few years ago I would have laughed at, not eaten.  Chia seeds are insanely good for you and when allowed to sit in a liquid will swell and form into a texture that is quite similar to tapioca pudding.

Team Leader Andrea Mastrobuono, was kind enough to act as a go-between, get the recipe from Joe, and send it to me to include in today’s column.

Blueberry Chia Pudding with Turmeric Apples and Goji Berries

Blueberry chia pudding:

blueberry puddng

1 cup chia seeds

3 cups apple cider

½ cup crushed blueberries + ¼ cup whole

Zest and juice of ½ lime

½ tablespoon honey

¼ teaspoon allspice

Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

Turmeric apples:

turmeric apples

1 cups agave syrup

Juice and zest of ½ lime

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 cup dried apples

In a small saucepan, combine agave, lime, salt and turmeric and bring it to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour over dried apples.

Goji berries:

goji

¼ cup goji berries

¼ cup orange juice

Cover Goji berries with OJ and let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Assemble the dish with your pudding as the base and top it with turmeric apples, and goji berries.

Makes 8-10 servings at around 200 calories each.

This pudding is the kind of thing I want to eat on a rainy day fresh from the shower.  Whether you’re watching your weight or not, it’s delicious.  But it just happens to be better for you than a handful of Flintstones chew-ables.

I loved Romper Room, but Miss Carol never, not once, saw me in her fickin’ magic mirror.

Definitely, happily, on the do-bee list.

 

Thanks for your time.