Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cooking: Corn Meal Mush

This family loves anything that can be called comfort food or peasant food. Foods that are cheap and filling, or maybe foods that bring back fond memories, are sometimes the best food there is. Sometimes we even elevate poor people food to the next level, and to our kids it feels like a real treat. Recently we discovered the joy that is corn meal mush.

My mother seldom, if ever, made cornbread when I was a kid. When she was young, her father (my grandfather) was laid off and the family of 5 had to go on welfare. One of the staples that was provided by the government food programs was corn meal, and it was given in far more abundance than white flour. So my grandmother dutifully fed her family corn bread and corn mush on a nearly daily basis for many months. My mother soon grew tired of this, and she vowed never to eat corn meal again - if she could help it. To her, eating corn meal was a sign of hard times.

We always have corn meal in the house. Mr. Farmer bakes bread frequently, and he dusts the bottom of the loaves with corn meal to keep them from sticking. More recently, we purchased quite a bit more for making scrapple. We love cornbread with our chili. We even use it to fry fish sometimes. Somehow, however, we never thought to make breakfast mush out of it.

Mr. Farmer made some as a midnight snack and it was amazing! Hot cereal isn't all that exciting as a rule, but corn mush has a saltiness that oatmeal can't deliver, and the texture is just slightly heavier than farina (which I really don't care for because of the sliminess). I went to bed that night with a full belly and a satisfied- but not overwhelmed- sweet tooth. I have the leftovers in the fridge chilling to try as fried patties. I can't wait!

The Recipe:

3 cups hot water
1 tsp salt
1 cup corn meal
1 cup cool water

Sugar & Butter (or milk)

Boil the hot water and salt in a large pan. Mix the corn meal into the cool water. Slowly add the cornmeal water into the boiling water and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes and reducing the heat as you go. Cover and cook on low for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot with butter or milk and sugar.

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