Last weekend brought a string of perfectly crisp fall days. The kind where the air smells like clean water and the grass grows thick like a blanket. The mornings now are shrouded in mist and the afternoons lend themselves to golden hues.
Fall really is the best time of year. Until winter arrives with its snow days and hot buttered rum. Then that’s the best time of year. But I digress.
I spent last weekend sipping pumpkin beer and wandering through pumpkin patches with Alice and Cole. We saw duck races and pig skits. There were towers built out of hay and a very large corn maze that we opted not to get lost in. Alice bought a berry crumble pie and I free formed a traditional Jack–O-Lantern Face.
It was opening weekend of duck season. The three of us celebrated with Duck Chili. It seemed appropriate.
And necessary seeing as there are a few pounds of duck still lingering in the freezer, which will soon be dutifully replenished by Garrett and the Duck Shack Boys.
Growing up I didn’t like chili. In fact, chili and I had an intense love-hate relationship. Because while I didn’t like chili, I LOVED my mom’s cornbread. Now I get that cornbread recipes can be as personal as your family meatloaf or lasagna.
But let me tell you, the debate is over. My mom’s cornbread is hands down the best. It’s got a big enough bite to give your belly the warm and fuzzies, while staying tender enough not to knock you on your ass, like some dense cornbread can.
On the sweet side, it doesn’t need extra honey. It’s good as is, right from the pan, eaten warm with or without chili.
Mary Rae’s Cornbread
Mary Rae is insistent that you know she makes this exclusively with buttermilk now. (Within 12 hours of publishing I received both a Facebook comment and phone call alerting me to such.) However, I stand behind my use of milk. Because not all of us keep a stock of buttermilk in the fridge and milk turns out mighty tasty. This is the best darn cornbread, after all.
1½ cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup cornmeal
1 TBS baking powder
½ tsp salt
1¼ cups milk (or buttermilk)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 TBS butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Sifting with a spoon to combine.
Combine milk, eggs, oil, and butter in a small bowl. Whisk to fully combine. Pour liquid into dry ingredients. Fold until just blended. Pour into prepared baking pan.
Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.