Irony: Simple Cornbread Recipe

by Maris Callahan on February 4, 2010


I love irony. I grew up in a small suburb in New Jersey where there wasn’t very much history or culture. When you wanted history or culture you took a train for an hour in either direction and visited New York City or Philadelphia. However, there was a former dairy farm in our town that had a little bit of notoriety: in its heyday, it was the home of the Borden icon, Elsie the Cow.

As a child, my mother had visited the very farm on a field trip with her Long Island an elementary school. Thirty-five years later, she and my dad purchased a new house for our family in a  neighborhood that happened to be an up-and-coming homeowners association with almost four hundred properties — on the same piece of land as the former Borden dairy, Walker Gordon Farm.

I imagine that when she was six, my mother wasn’t thinking that one day, she would be married with two children and living on a quarter-acre plot of land on the former stomping grounds of Elsie the Cow.

I took the above photograph in July when I visited Chicago and went to BlogHer. The bus, the 147 route, is one that I see frequently on Michigan Avenue and though it’s not one of my regular routes, I was surprised when I recognized it among the hundreds of random shots I took with my point-and-shoot in between sessions of conferencing and making easy chicken fajitas in my friend’s barely-stocked kitchen.

I like that things you never expect, things that never even cross your mind, can eventually happen. Places you never expect to see again wind up being places you call home.

Now that I’m calling a new place home, I’ve been readjusting: to my new job, my new time zone and yes, even my new kitchen. To keep balance, I find myself making simple recipe that I know like the back of my hand: classic turkey chili that I could probably make with my eyes closed, my favorite chocolate chip biscotti and whole-wheat beer bread, which is so simple.

Recently, I made cornbread to pair with my beef and pinto bean chili. Since cornbread is such a simple, no-frills recipe, I like to jazz it up, such as in my skillet cornbread with caramelized onions. But sometimes, uncomplicated is good. When it comes to cornbread, you don’t always need the bells and whistles.


No-Frills Cornbread


1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup sifted flour

1/4 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup 1% milk

1 egg, beaten


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

2. Mix oil, egg and milk together and add to dry ingredients with a few swift strokes. Do not over mix. Bake in a greased 9x9x2 inch baking pan for 20 to 25 minutes.

Note: to make a sweeter, moister cornbread, use the following ingredient measurements: 2/3 cup milk; 1/2 cup sugar; 1/2 cup oil; 2 eggs.

Stop by my Chicago Now blog today for tips on how you can create your very own Foodie Registry!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Daryl Callahan February 4, 2010 at 6:53 am

You have the knack of making any place a home-even a room in a dingy rental townhome!!! It’s truly a gift


mandy February 4, 2010 at 9:11 am

I agree, sometimes uncomplicated is best. (And can I tell you how much I love that biscotti recipe. My stepsister is hooked on it now as well)


kat February 4, 2010 at 9:37 am

Yes, simple cornbread is often exactly what is called for


cindy February 4, 2010 at 4:23 pm

oh, you had me at simple cornbread. i love it with honey and butter…yum!
your mom’s story reminds me of my (future) father in law…he always reminisces about how san jose (ca) used to be all orchards and agriculture, and now it’s pretty urban-suburban.


Pam February 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I have been looking for a simple cornbread recipe – I think I just found it.


thatShortChick February 4, 2010 at 6:07 pm

you would not believe the complexity that is my mother’s cornbread recipe. I am definitely passing this along to her.


pigpigscorner February 5, 2010 at 10:59 am

Love simple and satisfying dishes. I tend to cook simple and familiar dishes during weekdays.


grace February 5, 2010 at 1:09 pm

cornbread requires no frills, especially if you’re having it with something as wonderful as chili. the crumb on your batch looks ideal!


Natasha - 5 Star Foodie February 5, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Especially with chili or stew, a simple cornbread is definitely the way to go!


Kerstin February 7, 2010 at 11:26 pm

I love homemade cornbread, it just always makes me smile!


convection toaster oven April 6, 2010 at 4:48 am

I entirely be of the same mind regarding some points, but you certainly have a unique perspective.


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