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Monday, January 18, 2016

Cornbread Girl in a Light Bread World

I've had a hankering for some cornbread for a while. But I didn't take the time to pull out bowl, buttermilk, cornmeal, skillet to make some. Today I decided was a good time to pull myself from the keyboard and enjoy a pone of homemade cornbread. It's good, if I do say so myself!
When I was growing up deep in the Georgia back country, the bread in our diet consisted of biscuits, cornbread, occasionally crackers and 'loaf bread.' The last was what we called store-bought bread, and it was seldom found on our table. I would not attempt to tally the number of biscuits my mother 'stirred up' and shaped by hand over almost forty years to feed her husband and, eventually, eight children. My parents divorced when only two of my siblings were still at home, but I'm sure she still made biscuits on a regular basis. And even after she was diagnosed with Type II diabetes.
I married and moved to Tennessee and I heard loaf bread called 'light bread.' And was introduced to the mouth-watering delicacies, homemade yeast bread and rolls. Of course, even in Tennessee, cornbread was and still is a well-loved staple at the dinner table. Biscuits, too, especially for breakfast, accompanied by a good serving of gravy, bacon and scrambled eggs.
By the time I moved to Tennessee though very few housewives stirred and shaped the biscuits by hand like my mother. Spoons were used, mostly wooden spoons, also new to me. I was happy to learn that method, I hated the feel of sticky, wet dough on my hands.
To say my family was poor is like saying Donald Trump is well-off. In fact, most of the people around us were in the same boat. The time period in which I grew up was the tail end of the Great Depression, and recovery was slower to reach rural Georgia.
But I believe that era produced strong, self-reliant people who have contributed much to the world. And I don't regret those years. I'm quite happy to be a 'cornbread girl in a light bread world.'
I wrote this piece several months ago, last year in fact, as one of my Kingsport Daily News columns. But I was thinking of making cornbread today and decided to recycle it.