It is exciting to write an article in February that is about eating food from the garden. As much as I am craving a fresh tomato or raspberries, this is just as cool. Last summer we grew an heirloom flour corn named Mandan Bride. It was originally grown by the Mandan Indians of North Dakota and performed excellent for us. Our stand of corn was only about 40 square feet or so, and we ended up harvesting about three and a half quarts of cleaned kernels. We processed them all by hand and we were very surprised with the success of the harvest.One difference between flour corn and what most people know as sweet corn is that sweet corn is eaten fresh, and flour corn is allowed to dry right on the plant. Harvesting can be tricky if it is a wet year, but that was not a problem for us last year. Along with the corn, we also interplant beans and usually squash. This is known as the three sisters, a traditional Native American gardening technique that maximizes space. The corn is usually planted in mounds, the beans climb up the corn, and the squash grows between the mounds of corn. We will discuss more of the gardening in future posts. Now onto cornmeal and baking.
Making cornmeal is easy. The only thing that you need to have it go smoothly is some kind of grain mill. There are many different kinds of mills to choose from. What we have is a corona style mill and it worked out great. I usually use this mill for crushing malted barley when I make beer, so it is nice to know it can be used for different grains. We milled up just over a cup of whole kernels, and ran them through twice. We ended up with about a cup and a half of finished cornmeal. Following is the basic recipe we used, but cornbread has many variations to it. Add bacon, jalapenos, fresh corn, shredded cheddar cheese, or what ever else you might think would be tasty in cornbread.
Coarse Cornmeal 1 cup
Unbleached all purpose flour 1 ¾ cups
Baking powder 1 ½ Tablespoons
Baking soda ¼ teaspoon
Salt 1 teaspoon
Raw sugar ¼ cup
3 large eggs
Honey about ¼ cup
Melted butter 2 Tablespoons
*Soured milk can be made by adding 1 Tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of whole milk, and let it sit for at least five minutes before using.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Soak cornmeal in buttermilk/soured milk over night.
2. Next day combine all dry ingredients.
3. Combine beaten eggs, honey, and cooled melted butter, and then add to cornmeal mixture.
4.Combine all the wet and dry ingredients together.
5.Pour mixture into a heavily greased pan and bake for about 30 minutes. Check the cornbread with a tooth pick, and if it comes out clean it is done.
6.Let it cool for a few minutes, serve with chili and cold beer and you will be a satisfied customer.