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Spoonbread: glorious humility.

Occasionally I find myself standing in front of a pantry that I think looks scary empty; it feels like I am in a dark pit with giant spiders chasing me, all squealing for snack, supper, sustenance. In my weakest moments, I throw up my hands and trudge off to the store to find a quick fix.  In braver moments I pause and think.  And think.  And pray.  Surely the one who invented the idea of food can help me:  a  light in a dark pantry.

The truth dawns on me that the pantry is not empty.  I have flour.  I have milk.  I have the ingredients to make baking powder even if I don’t have baking powder.  I have any number of basic ingredients to make lovely food.  Crepes.  Biscuits.  Silver dollar pancakes.  Homemade syrup.  Spoonbread.  Suddenly I find that we are not desperately out of food, rather, I was just out of fresh ideas.

I give you spoonbread.  Glorious humility.

Andrea’s Spoonread

2 c. milk

2/3 c. yellow cornmeal

1 T. unsalted butter

1 t. salt

4 eggs separated.

Separate eggs and whip the whites until they form peaks.  Gently beat the yolks and set aside. Combine milk, cornmeal, salt and butter in a 3 qt. saucepan.  Whisk over medium to medium low heat until the mixture begins to bubble and then thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in egg yolks.  Sitr the egg whites into the mix.  You can gently fold them in, but I prefer to have them actually mixed in a bit so that I don’t get a big bite of egg.  Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish, about 9 inches round.  Bake at 425 for 20-22 minutes, until golden and puffy.  Serve immediately.

NOTE:  I also enjoy adding corn to this recipe.  During cooking time, just add 1 to 1 1 /2 c. tasty sweet corn (fresh, frozen, or as a last resort, canned.)   You can find other spoonbread recipes online:  Gourmet.com and Martha Stewart have  great suggestions.  Steer clear of the spoonbread recipes with jiffy corn bread mix and sour cream–tasty though they may be, they really aren’t spoonbread.  Give the authentic southern version a go first.   

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Frittata, eat a lotta.

The hobbits were keeping me hoppin’ in the kitchen every morning asking for second and third breakfasts.  It seems that the usual dose of breakfast cereal and milk wore off by about 8:30 and I was faced with loved ones pleading for another helping of quick sugar.  The sugar grumpies’ culprit:  frosted shredded wheat.  The solution: a balanced breakfast high in protein!

Sausage is expensive.  Eggs are cheaper.  Eggs are really cheap if I buy the ordinary eggs.  The other eggs, the tasty eggs with beautiful golden yolks, laid by happy cage free chickens, are triple the price. I will leave you to sort out your own personal budget-to-conscience ratio.

I was left with the dilemma of finding new ways to cook eggs.  For feeding a crowd, as indeed I am raising, I have learned about the frittata.  I’m going to give you a picture, but let you hunt the web for a recipe that suits you.  Let me just rouse your curiosity with a description.  I saute veggies in our big cast iron skillet, pour over top a dozen well beaten eggs, then gently stir in our favorite cheese.  It cooks till the bottom half sets up and then I place the skillet under the oven broiler.  Oh, the eggs puff up light and fluffy, the top browns nicely, and presto! in just a few minutes breakfast (or supper) is ready.

The cost:  1 dozen eggs, cheese, veggies:  it all depends on what you pick!  This can be a budget meal, OR a gourmet extravaganza with boutique cheeses, organic red pepper and asparagus, and a pound of prosciutto.

The budget version is $1 for eggs, $1.50 for cheese, .50 onion, $2.00 for some other colorful veggie.  $5.00 total!  Add $3.00 for a fruit side and it comes under the Low Budget cut-off.

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