08 October 2010

Of cast-iron, cornbread, and anniversaries

Tuesday was my parents' 25th wedding anniversary.

Now that I have some marriage experience of my own, I know that it's a miracle when anyone stays married for more than a month, let alone does it happily. And once children arrive, the miracle is compounded. Why would two people stick together for so long? What is the glue between them? It's certainly more than lovey dovey feelings. You need more than that to make you do something painful, awkward, confusing, and inconvenient-- which marriage is. (Not all the time, mind you, nor even most of the time, but often enough to give anyone second thoughts.)

Well, the glue is grace. Grace and a covenant. Without God's help, a pair of sinners could never enjoy a thriving marriage for 25 years. Without a binding covenant, they could never convince themselves to stay when things get hard. So I am thankful for grace and covenants, because they have upheld my parents for a quarter of a century, and now they promise to uphold my own marriage for "as long as we both shall live."

Anyway, my miraculously married parents took the day to themselves (as well they should, after giving every day for the past 23 years to their all-too-demanding children) and I kept an eye on the siblings still at home. Combined, we eat a lot. For the six of us at dinner, I made a big pot of my favorite chili and a big skillet of cornbread.

I'm still working on using cast-iron. Any tips? It's definitely not nonstick, even after seasoning and multiple uses, and I am not sure if it will ever get there.

Cast-Iron Cornbread
(adapted from More With Less)

6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups stone-ground cornmeal, white or yellow
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 eggs, beaten with a fork

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While it heats, stick in your skillet (I think mine is 8 inches across the bottom) along with the butter.
2. Stir together cornmeal, flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Once the butter has melted in the oven, whisk together butter, milk, and eggs. Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisk just until combined. You might have some lumps or streaks left. It's okay.
3. Coat the skillet with nonstick spray for good measure (unless you are confident in the nonstickiness of your pan. I'm not.) and pour in the batter. There will still be a trace of melted butter left in the pan, and it will rise up around the edges of the batter. Deliciousness.
4. Stick the skillet back in that oven, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove, cool slightly, and cut into golden-brown wedges of heaven. Contrary to its name, this is tender, delicious cornbread. Oh, and it makes a lot. Just saying.


  1. Well looks like the cornbread my Mom and I do and just the way we do it. Just keep seasoning it. A tip my mom uses for fast seasoning is after she cleans all that ummy stuck on stuff she puts oil in it on turns on the stove. It is a quick season, all ready for the next time thing. My eggs turn out fine as long as you use a lot of butter (me not so fond of, Brad LOVES)

  2. Rebekah,
    Buddy and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary this year, too. It's definitely by the grace of God that we are still married and closer than we were the day we said "i do".

    As far as cast iron is concerned, here is a link http://chickensintheroad.com/farm-bell-recipes/cooking-with-cast-iron/ to one of my favorite blogs where this man is talking about cooking with cast iron. I purchased a cast iron skillet within the past year and really love it. It makes me wonder why I was so afraid of it for so many years. You should check out the entire blog sometime - I think you would really enjoy it.

  3. I love this cornbread recipe!

    I've used cast iron for years now and it is very non-stick. If your pan is new, not vintage, use metal utensils to stir and cook in it. It wears down any bumps that new cast iron tends to have. After you cook in the skillet, wash any gunk off with water, NO SOAP, and put it on the burner to dry off. When it's dry and hot, rub some lard or shortening in it. Do this every time after you cook, and it will build up the seasoning.

  4. Rebekah, I use several cast iron skillets, I never use soap on them, & I always squirt olive oil in them after they are cleaned (w/water only) I put them back on the hot burner to dry. Works great.