Make Corn Cakes for a Change

When I think of cornbread and fresh summer vegetables, I think of it prepared in a cast iron skillet – what my mom called “a pone of cornbread.” When I came to Nashville, I started seeing corn meal pancakes – topped with barbecue.  The Martha White® recipe files contain plenty of corn cake recipes.

Corn cakes are my husband’s cornbread of choice and I love to make them for him. The recipe I use is very similar to basic cornbread batter, but cooked into pancakes. If you make pancakes, you will have no trouble with cornbread batter.

Below are a few things I’ve discovered over the years of making corn cakes.

My recipe of choice is Martha White Sweet Milk Corn Cakes.  I sometimes make it with buttermilk instead of sweet milk. In case you don’t know, “sweet milk” is regular milk. Southerners often use this term to differentiate regular milk from buttermilk. If you prefer buttermilk, you may need to use a little extra due to its thicker consistency.  Buttermilk also tends to make the corn cakes a little crispier. Try both and see what you think.

How you prepare the skillet will have an effect on the outcome of the corn cakes. Using a non-stick cooking spray works great and creates a slightly crisp and tender corn cake. If you prefer a crunchier crust, heat a little oil in the pan before adding batter.

Corn cakes can be made with self-rising corn meal mix or a cornbread mix. This Mexi Corn Cakes and Barbecue Stacks recipe is reminiscent of my first corn cake experience. It’s made with a corn bread mix and corn with red and green peppers. To add a little heat, include some chopped jalapeno!

Reinvent Corn Cakes as Stylish Appetizers

As many of you know, Martha White® has been associated with bluegrass and country music for many years beginning in the early 50’s. During that time, we were planning a release party for a new bluegrass album. We wanted food reminiscent of the roots of Bluegrass, but with a little flair, too. My friend Mindy suggested we serve mini corn cakes topped with barbecue. I thought it was a fabulous idea and so did the guests.

Of course, in the intervening years, we’ve seen creative chefs reinvent traditional Southern recipes in an amazing variety of creative ways. I’ve been so impressed by young cooks who are serving traditional Southern food, like grits, collards, fried green tomatoes and catfish, in their trendy restaurants. These talented chefs, along with cookbook writers and traditional home cooks, have reminded us to pass on our food heritage to the next generation.

There are so many wonderful examples of how simple recipes like corn cakes can be transformed into a delectable appetizer. My favorite is Roasted Corn and Red Pepper Corn Cakes with Avocado Salsa. Enjoy!

Mealtime Should Be a Family Affair

When I was growing up, our days revolved around mealtime. In those days, nobody ever thought about missing a meal because there weren’t a lot of other options and we loved my mother’s cooking. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn how to cook, set the table, practice good table manners – and it was a great time for talking. My father was a great story teller and with four older brothers and sisters, there was always plenty to talk about.

Being involved in the mealtime preparations was very rewarding to me and with just a little planning and creativity, family mealtime can become one of the most enjoyable parts of your day.

Depending on age and interest, kids can be a big help with preparing and serving meals. You will be surprised that they are more likely to try new foods that they’ve helped prepare. For a quick dinner that’s always fun for families to make together, try Mexi Corn Cakes and Barbecue Stacks. The kids will love helping cook the corn meal pancakes. They can even help stack them with purchased or homemade barbecue and slaw.

With a little extra planning, family meals can be transformed into a time of sharing responsibilities and meaningful conversation – a time to create memories you will all treasure.

What mealtime traditions do you have at your home? I would love to hear them.