Sunday, 23 September 2012

I have cornbread

baking in the oven as I write this. The Senior Cat is going to a "shared lunch" today and this is "finger food" which can be cut into slices.
I have a standard recipe. It is supposed to make twelve "muffins". I double the recipe and make it in a heavy duty cake tin which has a pattern of flowers on the bottom. You are supposed to turn the cake out and get the flowers on the top of course. Perhaps the idea is that, if you are making real cake, you do not need to ice it. I do not know. I have never made that sort of cake in that sort of cake tin. It would be a lot of cake. There are just two people in this house and we almost never eat cake.
But the cornbread is a different story. For a start it is savoury. It made from the usual flour and eggs and milk but no sugar. You add oil and parmesan cheese. The recipe says "dried dill" but I add a pinch of cayenne pepper and then parsley or carrot or courgette or sometimes a combination of these things. I once flung in a few chopped semi-dried tomatoes. I have put in very finely chopped onion and celery. I have no doubt I could find other things to put in as well.
Someone else - going to the same function - asked me yesterday, "How do you think of those things?"
She was worrying over whether she should make scones instead of sandwiches and yet I know she is a good, competent cook. She can ice cakes beautifully - something I am hopeless at doing.
It puzzled me a bit at first but then I realised that she is someone who always follows the recipe to the letter. She does not deviate from it. Experimenting is not for her. I think can understand  as I suspect her childhood, growing up in the country during the war, meant the meals her mother could cook were very plain. She has never had the courage to experiment herself.
Oddly though it is because of similar circumstances that I do experiment. As a student in self-catering accommodation I looked for the cheapest but most nutritious food I could find. Most of the other girls (it was single sex accommodation) did the same.  Nobody was going to cook a roast dinner - meat was rarely seen.
We experimented out of necessity but we did it with the support of our kitchen mates. It has taught me something about what works. So, today, the cornbread has carrot and courgette in it - and the Senior Cat has just complained he will have to wait until lunch time to taste it.
That is the other thing which makes it a pleasure to do - someone else who appreciates his food.


Jan said...

DIL used to follow recipe to the letter and we used to tease her till we found out that that is how her mum cooks. Good cooking, old recipes and no deviation. One holiday period when I lived with son and DIL she was there for the holiday. She walked down the hill about a mile in reasonable heat because recipe she was cooking said to "serve with beans." We had peas, salad stuff, zucchini but no beans.

We tried to tell her that beans were just someone's idea or what they had in hand. But beans it was.

DIL used to be amazed how my son, who is a good cook could throw things together and have some idea of what went with what. Then she realised he had learnt from me. She has now loosened up but her mum has never changed.

the fly in the web said...

I learned to feed myself when cast adrift from the hall of residence in my second year in the company of flatmates all on the same voyage of discovery.
Eggs featured heavily to start with but by the end of our third year we were all cooking quite adventurously...but not from cookbooks.
I like to have books, but more to give ideas than to copy slavishly.

catdownunder said...

I wonder Jan whether such people are frightened that food might be inedible or wasted - or whether they follow all other instructions to the letter? I know people who will knit sleeves to the length the pattern says rather than adjust them to fit the wearer too.
Ah, yes Fly in the Web - eggs were important but the advice of friends over ways to cook them was invaluable wasn't it!