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The Resilient Gardener

You can heatsomeup(in themicrowave) andadd

To grind polenta meal, I simply grind the corn

Quick-Cooking Polenta


cups of water


brown sugar or jam or maple syrup and/or milk,


Tbs. butter or other fat or oil

cream, or butter. My favorite polenta dessert is


tsp. salt


Maple-Gold Polenta made with ‘Cascade Maple-

Toss the butter and salt into the pot with

Gold Polenta’corn.ForthisI use leftover polenta, extra butter,and puregrade-B maplesyrup (which is much darker and more flavorful than grade A). My variety ‘Cascade Maple-Gold Polenta’ is named both for the color of the pericarp and

the water and bring it to a boil. Then add the cornmeal in three batches, whisking each in. After the water returns to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer the cooking mush for 7 minutes,

endosperm of the corn (maple-brown overly-


ing rich, deep gold) as well as for this particular dessert, for which it is theperfect variety.

in my hand-crank Corona mill. (See the section in chapter 4 on mills and milling.) My electric

stirring with a spatula the entire time.Then cover the pot, remove it from the heat, and

let it sit quietly to finish cooking by itself. After 45 minutes, come back and give the polenta a final stir to stir in some of the water that will have separated a little bit. I like to eat some of the polenta hot and ladle

impact mill makes a meal that is too fine for polenta. Polenta meal should be coarse to give it

the rest into bread-loaf pans, which I and refrigerate when cooled.


the most appealing cooked texture.I run thecorn through the Corona mill initially on a setting


Carol’s Universal Skillet Bread

just coarse enough to crack the corn. Then I run

It took me more than a decade to develop

the cracked corn through a second time with


recipe for making cornbread that tastes

the burrs set as fine as practical and examine the resulting flour, then open up the space between the burrs until the biggest corn bits are about 2 millimeters long.This is ascoarsea texture asone can have and still havethe bigger bitscook allthe

great, that holds together well enough to make sandwiches, that doesn’t require any other grains, and that doesn’t need xanthan gum or other artificial binders. Here’s the primary trick: To hold the corn together,

way through with myrecipe. One cup of whole ground corn grinds into about 1¼ cups of polenta meal. I always make at least2 cups of cornmeal into polentaat once.You need this amount or more,sincethe finalcooking depends upon the heat retained by the pot and the volume of food.

you add boiling water to part of the corn - meal to make it into a sticky semicooked paste. Then you add most of the other ingredients to form a thick, gooey “pre- batter.” You add the rest of the cornmeal (containing the baking powder) last. Both the sticky, cooked paste and the eggs help hold the bread togetherwell enough so that no other grains, milk, or artificial binders


cups of coarse-ground meal from a true

are needed.

flint corn of pristine flint type


got the basic concept of adding boiling



Skillet Bread Ingredients (For  2  large  loaves  of flint  corn
Skillet Bread Ingredients
(For 2 large loaves of flint corn skillet bread, 6
cups of cornmeal total) (See modifications at the
end of the recipe for flour and dent cornmeals
as well as how to establish amounts for different
For directions, see text (page 266).
3 cups (half of the) cornmeal, placed in a large
stainless steel bowl and whisked to breakup
any lumps
4 cups of water (in a pot)
Tbs.butter or other fat (2Tbs. per cup
cornmeal), also added to the pot
3/4 tsp. salt,also added to the pot
cups eggs (standing by,to make
the pre-batter)
Dry ingredients:
cups (the rest of the) cornmeal, in a separate
bowl, and
Tbs.Rumford baking powder (whisked
together with the cornmeal)
For flour corn skillet bread, use 1/3 of the flour
inthe pre-batterand cut thewater to 3 cups.For
dent corn skillet bread, use a pattern between
that of full flour and full flint types, depending
upon how floury or flinty the particular variety
is. For buckwheat and teff flours, see note 12-7.
You may need to modify amounts of water and/
or proportion of flour or meal in the pre-batter
depending upon the specific variety and even
the moisture content of the lot. Basically, if your
bread is too dry it needs more water. If it is too
moist it needs less. If your bread falls apart, you
need a larger proportion of the meal or flour in
the pre-batter step so there will be more paste to
hold the bread together. If your bread is gooey,
you need a lesser proportion of the flour or meal
in the pre-batter step.

water and using the resulting paste from some very old southern white cornbread recipes as well asfrom an oldScottish recipe for oatcakes.I raised theproportionofpaste and added the stainless steel bowl and one- minute waiting step as adjustments that result in abetter-cookedpaste,thusenhanc- ing the bread’s ability to hold together. I also grind my corns in the Whispermill, which gives the finest meal possible; this also helps make bread that holds together well. (One cup of corn makes about 1¼ cups of fine meal.) To my knowledge, this is the only cornbread recipe that produces

cornbread that holds together well enough to make sandwiches. The flour-corn corn- breads hold together even better than the flints; however, both can be used to make sandwiches. The ingredients for skillet bread in the sidebar are for skillet bread made from true

flint corns of very pure flint type. For these,

I use half the cornmeal to make the sticky

pre-batter paste, and use 2/3 as much water (by volume) as cornmeal. For pure flour corns, I use only 1/3 of the flour to make the pre-batter, and I cut the water to half as much water as corn flour. The pattern


The Resilient Gardener

The Dedicated Cornbread Skillet IhavetwocastironskilletsthatIusefornothing
The Dedicated Cornbread Skillet
the skillets sometimes called “cornbread pans”
but it was too small, and oiling and cleaning all
those separate sections is too much of a pain. I
because I don’t want fish or hamburger flavors in
my bread or cakes. (One does not ever wash cast
permanent cure on the pan and somewhat to the
rack so the cornbread loaves fall out. Then I set
the pansdown and pour a dollop of corn orother
vegetable oil into the hotpanand wipe it around
with a paper towel. (I’m careful not to touch the
skillets with my bare hands while doing this, as
they arestill very hot.) Then at some point later,
after the skillets have cooled, I removethe excess
oil with a paper towel, removing any crumbs in
the process, and giving myself pristine oiled
pans. (I leave only the oil that won’t come off. I
remove all the excess.)
flavor for a while. Soap is fatty.) The other main
I store my cast iron skillets upside down on
is because that way I never have to clean them,
not even in water. The standard way of clean-
ing cast iron pans is to wash them in water only,
When I take the cornbread out of the oven,
I turn each skillet upside down over a cooling
a shelf. They should be stored open to the air.
Storing upsidedownprevents dust from settling
inthe pans.When it’s timefor some morecorn-
bread, I just pop the pans in the oven to heat
them. They are already oiled as much as is
needed. I not only don’t ever wash my cast iron
skillets with soap, I never even wash them with

for dent corns is somewhere in between. (For buckwheat or teff skillet bread, see note 12-7.) Most flour corn and dent corn varieties taste best with some sugar, about 1 tablespoon per cup of flour. Southern-style white cornbreadis madewithout sugar.

For flint corn skillet bread, I start off by putting half thecornmeal into a largestainless steelbowl, one that’s big enough to mix everything together. (The stainless steel matters, since this half of the cornmeal needs to cook into a sticky paste when the boiling water is added.A heavier bowl absorbs


more heat and cools the ingredients.) The other half of the cornmeal goes into a smaller bowl along with the baking powder. I whisk both lots of cornmeal to break up any clumps in the dry ingredients and mix in the baking powder. Of

course I use duck eggs in the recipe, but chicken eggs will work fine.

I set the oven rack on the lowest possible

position and preheat the oven to 450°F. (I start preheating the cast iron skillets at the same time as I turn the heat on to boil the water.) Before I make the pre-batter, I take the cast iron skillets out of the oven.(The skillets are not heated to full



temperature, which would cause the oil to smoke and burn.If thebatterboils and bubbles when put into the skillets,they are toohot.) The amounts given are enough for two large cast iron skillets, which will produce two large round loaves. My skillets are 8½ inches and 9 inches across, measured as internal dimensions at

First toss the salt and butter or fat or oil into a


think it is still cooking and developing its flavors as it comes out of the oven.) I let the bread cool completely, cut one end off each loaf to eat, and put the rest of each loafina big Ziploc bag. (The whole rounds don’t quite fit.) One bag goes into the refrigerator.The other stays at roomtempera- ture and is eaten over the next three days. When

Parching Corn

My first experience with parching corn was in

the base. (Everything around my house is indi- vidual.) The traditional preheating of the skillets gives a nice crust as well as shortens the cooking time andthus makesit easier to bakeacornbread that cooks all the way through anddoesn’t burn.

pot with 4 cups of water and turn the heat on to bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, into the preheated oven go the two cast iron skillets. Bring the water-salt-butter to a boil and dump it into 3 cups of cornmeal. Then whisk it around quickly as it cooks and thickens into almost a solid mass. Leave the steaming meal for a minute to let it cook further.Then add the eggs, whisk to scram - ble them,and incorporate them fully,creating the pre-batter. Remove the cast iron skillets from the hot oven. Dump the dry ingredients into the pre-batter, whisk them together very rapidly (in about two seconds), and immediately pour or scrape (with the aid of a spatula) half the batter into each of the two skillets. Place the batter-filled skillets in the 450°F oven.

the first loaf is gone, the other comes out of the frig. The bread will keep without molding for only about three or four days, since it contains no preservatives. To make sandwiches, I usually cut the loaf in ½-inch slices that are about 1½ inches wide, the thickness of the loaf, and I make sandwiches that are long rectangles instead of squares.These hold together better than squares and are easier to get my mouth around.

the living room of my friend and colleague, the irrepressible renegade germplasm collector, plant breeder, and seedsman Dr. Alan Kapuler, other- wise known as “Mushroom.” That particular year Mushroom had grown seven different Hopi flour corns. When fall came, ’Shroom had ears of the varieties stacked all over his living room. Everyone who visited the Kapulers got handed a


check the bread at 25 minutes. Sometimes I

bag of corn and a container to shell into while

take it out then. Sometimes it takes an extra 5 minutes. When the bread is done, there is a nice golden brown crust on top, and the bread has pulled away from the sidesof theskillet. Turn the loaves out on a cooling rack and let them cool for at least half an hour. (The bread tastes good warm but doesn’t taste good hot. I


they were visiting. By late fall, all the bags of ears had been turned into buckets of kernels, and Mushroom was trying to figure out how to use them.So he tried just toasting the different kinds of corn in a dry cast iron frying pan and feeding them (or trying to feed them) to his family. “Here,try this one,”Mushroomsaid,carryinga