Friday, December 28, 2012

Macerated fruit & more cornbread

The decision to become a domestic diva was not a conscious one, but started with fruitcake --- or the absense thereof this year on the shelves of a retailer I always thought could be depended upon.

So that's the fruit, which as been macerating for roughly 18 hours in a half cup of rum. And this will be, among other things, fruitcake day. The lovely thing about fruitcake is that there's no rush. Once baked, it becomes eternal. So with any luck, this will become next year's fruitcake, too.

If you doubt that, the world's oldest known fruitcake, baked in 1878 by Fidelia Bates, remains in her family today, carefully maintained as of 2003 by a great-grandson, Morgan Ford, of Tecumseh, Michigan.

According to a news report I saw just before Christmas, the consumer demand for fruitcake is declining at a rate of about five percent per year, the only truly worrisome sign I've seen lately that America is going to the dogs. This may be why that retailer heretofore favored dropped the offering this year.

This does not bode well for Claxton, Georgia, which advertises itself as the fruitcake capital of the world (Claxton's other claim to fame is the fact that on Dec. 10, 1984, a meteorite fell from the sky above Claxton and struck a mailbox --- the only known direct hit a mailbox ever has taken from a meteorite). Corsicana, Texas, too, where the Collin Street Bakery continues to crank out cake for a nationwide market.

Again, I don't care if you wish me "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas." But I do expect to be served fruitcake.

I have a freezer full of chicken soup, enough to carry me thorough lunch well into January. But soup calls for cornbread, which like fine wine comes in several varieties, each suited for differing purposes. The skillet cornbread recipe that you'll find indexed in the sidebar here works beautifully with vegetable-beef soup.

Chicken, however, calls for something a little lighter, more finely textured and with just a touch of sweetness. So here's the recipe for that. 

1 stick (half cup) butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt butter over low heat in a good sized sauce pan and remove from heat. Immediately whisk in sugar, then the two eggs. Add baking soda to buttermilk, then that combination to the sauce pan, and whisk to combine with butter, sugar and eggs. Add salt, cornmeal and flour and stir until thoroughly blended --- but don't overdo it. Pour into buttered 8-inch square baking dish and bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for rougly 35 minuetes. All done. 

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