Don’t Forget the Salt

“Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt.”
–George Herbert, English poet (1593-1633)

I decided to make corn bread this morning. It thought it would be a nice change from my usual weekday breakfast of oatmeal or yogurt with fruit. It was okay, especially with the touch of what we call “library honey”—the locally produced honey that we buy at the West Deptford Public Library. (Books and honey in one spot. How wonderful is that?)

The past few times I’ve made cornbread, it was—I have to say this—amazing. I’ve been using the same recipe for years, so the only thing I can think that made it more wonderful, is the substitution of almond milk for regular milk. This morning, however, the cornbread was just okay. The extra “zing” was missing. That’s because I accidentally omitted the salt.

Cornbread

Cornbread

Salt has been lauded since ancient times. References are found in the Bible and in ancient manuscripts. In the past, salt was so important that it was used for money. The word “salary” is derived from the Latin word salarium, which referred to the money given to soldiers to buy salt.  Cities have been founded  and wars fought over access to salt.  According to Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky, the city of Buffalo, NY, was founded on a salt lick. Buffaloes and other animals followed a trail to reach the salt lick, and humans followed the animals. Humans need some salt in their bodies, although many people consume far too much.

Salt helps to bring out flavors. I started thinking about how desirable it is to have a bit of metaphorical salt in our everyday lives. We need to add that bit of flavor enhancement—the compliment to a co-worker, the hug to a loved one, the actually voiced, “I love you,” the call just to say, “Hello.” Yes, a day can be fine without any of those things, but some praise, a sign of admiration, a kind word, a loving touch, these things blend the ingredients of everyday life and help turn an ordinary day into one that is more appetizing, or even luscious.
This is the recipe I use for cornbread. If you make it, don’t forget the salt!
Thanks for reading. Hope your day is delicious, filled with flavor, and maybe even a bit of spice!

Corn Bread (adapted from Anna Thomas, The Vegetarian Epicure, Vintage Books, 1972.
1 ¼ cups unbleached white flour
¾  corn meal
4 Tbsp. sugar
5 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup milk (or unsweetened almond milk)
2 Tbsp. melted butter
Sift together dry ingredients. Beat the egg with the milk and add it to the flour mixture along with the melted butter. Stir up everything together. Spread the batter in a greased 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes (I usually find it does not take that long, so make sure you check it before then.)  Eat it—especially still warm with good honey—and swoon.

For You: Bok Choy and Kale Chips

How do you make the brisket?
Can I have your recipe for Snickerdoodles?
What do you do with bok choy?

baked kale chips

baked kale chips (Photo credit: eraine)

The calls and messages come.
Sometimes they are frequent;

sometimes not often enough.

My friend calls it “the lost years.”

Those years when we were so caught up with our children,
their activities, and work
that we had little time to connect with each other.
It went by in a flash.
I’m past that time now.
My children are young adults.
They do not need me to take them to rehearsals

or lessons.
We talk companionably,
and sometimes with tears,
but more often with laughter.

I cherish every moment.

Your children are still young.
You chase them, and love them,

and take them here
and there
and here again.

“I love your blog posts,” you say,
“Even when they’re not about me.”
You laugh.
So this is for you.

“Make kale chips, “ I say.
“Bake them at three hundred,
but watch them carefully so
they don’t burn.
Maybe you can use the bok choy.”

I know I will not be lost to you.
We’re both amazing women.
But I’m the one with the recipes.

 

 

New Book: History of American Cooking

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I am happy to announce that my latest book, History of American Cooking (ABC-CLIO Press), is available for purchase! [Cue the drum roll and trumpet fanfare.] OK. This news might not be all that exciting to you, but I received my author’s copies yesterday, and holding the book that you’ve labored over for months or years never gets old. Trust me.

What this book is:

*A concise reference for students and the general public

What this book is NOT:

*A cookbook

*A book for food historians and scholars

What this book includes:

*An examination of the history and practice of cooking from approximately the 15th century to the present

*A focus on one particular cooking method, such as baking or broiling, per chapter.

*In-depth discussions of such dishes as fried chicken, doughnuts, and Thanksgiving turkey

*A chronology

*Sample recipes, mainly from 19th century sources

*Witty asides and pop culture references (Well, you can decide.)

How do I get this amazing book?

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/history-of-american-cooking-merril-d-smith/1112077272

http://www.amazon.com/History-American-Cooking-Merril-Smith/dp/0313387117

http://www.abc-clio.com/product.aspx?id=2147543574

I would be grateful if you would recommend this book to your public or school libraries, if you feel it would be of interest.