Why God gave it to the South, I can’t be certain, but I’ve been told because we were here in Virginia first and because the Indians already called it porridge or suppone and suppawn making it much easier to show us how to feed ourselves before we stole their land and planted tobacco.
The further South you go the more complicated the recipe becomes. Same ingredients naturally it just becomes a matter of if you beat it to death before you bake it. I’m going to tell you how we do it out here in the forest.
Stoke the wood stove and fill up the fire box with the slab wood to get that bugger good and hot so the oven will hold the proper temperature for baking your spoonbread. You should have had either your husband or child fill up in your wood box long before you went out to milk the cow.
The cow, she’ll only have to give you a quart if you’re in a hurry and can’t spend time completing the entire milking process. After, all that is what the menfolk are for or at least it was before this new age of living and may once be again if people don’t start being nicer to one another.
Next, take a trip to the hen house and gather three eggs. I hope your hens are not like mine and on some sort of a march against this or that they know little about. Now I’m going to take a leap of faith here and give you credit you probably don’t deserve for making butter yesterday from the cream you skimmed from your cow’s morning milking’s so you will have it to make your wonderful spoonbread. I’m also going to take a larger leap of faith that a plow was taken to the good earth God gave you, corn planted, tended until it was grown, dried, harvested, shucked, stripped from the cob and ground into a powder fine cornmeal.
If you’re still with me here comes the magic. Scald the milk with what would be called today 1/4 teaspoon of salt. In the old days, it was a splatter in the palm of your hand. The splatter would, of course, depend on the size of your hand. That being said men should not measure the salt for you. Sprinkle in ever so slowly one cup of cornmeal and with a spoon, stir the pot. I prefer a wooden spoon, always have always will when mixing or stirring food of any sort. You will want to cook this in a double boiler for one hour before you gently add your well mixed melted butter and eggs.
Give it a good whipping and pour in a heavy warm oven baking pan, place it in the oven. Some folks say for around forty-five minutes at 350 degrees. Me, well the gauge on the wood stove broke years ago so I just keep the fire stoked not too much and not too little. While the spoon bread is baking I suggest you tend to your own knitting and by that, I mean resist the impulse to repeat gossip that was laid upon you in the course of your week with friends that may come by for a visit. Take a tiny peek from time to time into your oven while they are there, you will get the feel for when it’s nearly ready and time for them to move along and out of your forest.
Now, if it was necessary to include the part where you butter the baking pan you would be pouring the cornmeal, milk, butter, salt and egg mixture in you have been tending too for the past hour your hopeless and should find a high paying job and join a good country club. They do serve spoon bread still here in the South and still claim it as their own being modified and not stolen from the Indians.
Play nice out there in the world tomorrow and I’ll tell you about grits when I come back from Boston. That’s where my granny was from. She was into Plum Pudding and I like it very much.
PASS THE KNOWLEDGE ON!