Author Julie Herman is the author of the multi-award nominated Three Dirty Women Landscaping, Inc. Mysteries for adults. A lapsed Master Gardener, she lives on a small organic farm outside Houston where she and her husband ride herd on an ever-shifting population of creatures. Today she talks about her middle-grade mystery and shares an old family recipe for spoonbread. Learn more about Julie and her books at her website.
Ever since we got the chickens, I do a lot of cooking with eggs. This recipe for spoonbread came from my father’s mother’s mother, via my Aunt Ruth, who wasn’t a cook, but loved this recipe because there were so few ingredients.
Sophie from Burned loves just about everything her mother cooks, particularly her chicken and dumplings that they eat every Tuesday night. Unfortunately, I have had little luck cooking decent dumplings. So that particular culinary love of Sophie’s is an unfulfilled fantasy of mine. Another of her favorite meals includes spoonbread, which I do actually cook — and love.
As a historical note, I looked at a lot of other spoonbread recipes, and this is the only one I have seen that uses clabbered milk. The word clabber comes from the Irish word for thickened. The Irish word for milk is banne. Stick them together and you’ve got ‘bonnyclabber’ which is an old-fashioned word for buttermilk.
Wray/Sinclair Family Spoonbread
1 cup white cornmeal
2 cup boiling water
Butter (I use 2 -3 big spoonfuls)
1 cup milk
1/2-teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sour the milk by adding 1/2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 tsp water and lemon juice. Set aside to clabber.
Do not let the cat drink the milk. (This last was added by Aunt Ruth. I don’t know what happens if the cat does in fact, drink the milk. I suspect you would probably want to start a new batch.)
Grease 2 qt. baking dish or muffin pans.
Scald cornmeal with the boiling water. Stir in "some" butter. (See above for how much I decided “some” butter was.)
Beat eggs. Add to cornmeal mixture. Add milk. (Presumably the cat didn’t drink it!)
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 45 - 60 minutes.
Makes a lovely custardy corn side dish. My grandmother made this a lot during the Depression when food was hard to afford. Sophie’s mom makes it because she’s a single mother on a strict budget. I make it because it’s one of my favorite comfort foods. Enjoy!
Sophie would be the happiest girl in the world if she could spend every day hanging out with her friends Yasmine and Tanner, and riding her beloved horse, Cricket. But she stands to lose all of that and more when her mother is accused of theft and arson. As evidence piles up and friends turn away, Sophie scrambles to clear her mother’s name—and soon finds herself in the middle of a hot mess.