Select one of the keywords
The Cornbread Book: A Love Story With Recipes    by Jeremy Jackson order for
Cornbread Book
by Jeremy Jackson
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2003 (2003)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The first thing the author wants to do with this book 'is make cornbread one word'. The second 'is to have cornbread named the official bread of the United States of America'. Jackson says that when he was a child in Missouri and it was too cold to go outside to play, his mother fixed him his own little sandbox inside, complete with cornmeal in place of sand! 'In 1796, Amelia Simmons published American Cookery, generally considered to be the first American cookbook. On its title page the book claimed to be "adapted to this country". And indeed it had five recipes with cornmeal in them: three Indian puddings, one for Johnny Cake or Hoe Cake, and one for Indian Slapjacks.'

So, although cornbread is thought of as basically a southern recipe, it is eaten all over the United States in many guises. This tiny book starts with Basic Categories of Cornmeal, then segues into Keeping Cornmeal, and discusses Degerminated versus Whole Grain Cornmeal and Popcorn Flour. The proper equipment is suggested, along with the hint that dark pans will crisp cornbreads sooner. Now to the good stuff. Basic Cornbreads (along with their recipes) - Sweet, Buttermilk, Creamed Corn, Ozark; the author claims this is the recipe he grew up on which is probably why he grew up so manly and healthy.

There are all sorts of additions and substitutions that can be made with cornbread - rice, garlic, onion, nuts and seeds, fresh herbs to name a few. The addition of dried fruits sounds wonderful to me. I like the idea of Muffins and Drop Biscuits also. And then, yum, we go beyond the basics to Gold Nugget Popovers, Carrotbread with a Taste of Maple Syrup, Griddlecakes and Waffles. I am struck by the simplicity of the recipes, which can be whipped up and baked in no time. Don't Uppity Cornmeal Crepes sound great? And Jackson uses peanut butter as shortening in Nut-Butter Biscuits. Novel. The Corn Fritters would please me also.

We go now to Sweet Cornbreads. Sugar Cookies - I'd be a goner with them. Apple Skillet Flipcake sounds worth trying, or Berry Patch Cobbler - anything with berries suits me. Persimmon Coffee Cake. Caramel Corn Cake, where a crusty and tender cake floats on 'a golden sea of caramel Sauce.' Divine. Sweet Potato Cupcakes. My mother made some great Indian Puddings, but this one is made with Molasses Flour. Must try it. I've always liking working with yeast doughs, but have to admit I never used cornmeal. The Cornbread Book gives recipes for Yeast Cornbreads, 'In which Yeast, that frothing fungus, infuses our cornbreads with a breath of air, making them billow and puff and smell so nice.' Isn't that a great intro to the topic?

Popcorn White Loaf - imagine a flour made of popcorn! Worth working with just for the uniqueness. Portuguese Bread, Cornmeal Pizza Dough, New Zuni Bread, Hominy-Leek Monkey Bread, the ever popular Anadama Batter Bread. I could list them all, but if you're not intrigued enough by now to get your own copy, you don't like to eat and what's the use. Enjoy the author's dry wit and be sure to leaf to the very back of this wonderful little treasure to find the words and music to the Cornbread Song.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more NonFiction books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews