Cornbread Suppers and Other Corny Wonders

Cornbread Prep

Cornbread Prep

Ten Cornbread Suppers into the experiment, we are enjoying this weekly adventure in community, conviviality, cornbread, cornmeal, corn and....cocktails. Yes. Thanks to the generosity of excellent neighbor and excellent cocktail maker Mick Jeffries, the adults at Cornbread Supper 10 scored a bonus: Homemade, handmade, beautiful rosy red, small, delicious, fresh strawberry daiquiris. Strawberry Daiquiris, according to Mick, as they were meant to be.

At some point in the last 10 weeks, I discovered Maria Polushkin Robbins's recipe for spoonbread from her book, American Corn. It has become my new favorite.

Read the directions carefully; they are a bit odd, but I give them credit for producing a spoonbread beyond compare. Use fresh white stone-ground cornmeal for best results.

Spoonbread in spring in Kentucky: perfection. Spoonbread's rich taste and light texture pair wonderfully with our fresh asparagus and salad greens, chives, spring onions, strawberries.

Spoonbread fresh from the oven lays the most exquisite foundation for enjoying Kentucky's sweet elixir, sorghum, aka "sorghum molasses," just plain "molasses," or more formally, "sweet sorghum syrup." A bit of good butter on the hot spoonbread, a drizzle of sorghum - pure, sweet/salty/buttery/corny Kentucky.

I like the always light-colored, light-tasting, consistently outstanding Oberholtzer's Sorghum from Casey County (Liberty). Oberholtzer uses 100 percent pure sorghum cane syrup. During winter months Good Foods Market and Critchfield's Meats often carry Oberholtzer Sorghum. One Casey County grower sells Oberholtzer sorghum at the Lexington Farmers Market each fall.

Lucy Breathitt makes Woodford Gold Sorghum, a darker, caramel-tasting sorghum using nothing but pure sorghum cane juice from her farm in Woodford County (Versailles). This darker style sorghum is growing on me. I have usually associated dark sorghum with an underlying scorched flavor, but Ms. Breathitt's sorghum make a good case that well-made, tenderly evaporated sorghum syrups may be like roux - excellent in colors ranging from pale gold through brick, provided no burning occurs. On Saturdays, look for Ms. Breathitt and her Woodford Gold Sorghum at the Lexington Farmers Market near Bleugrass Chevre and Viburnum Valley Farm Confections, next to Clark County coffee roaster CaffeMarco.

Try this quartet -- chocolates, sorghum, fresh goat cheese, coffee -- as "closers" for your spoonbread-based spring supper. Bluegrass harmony.

rona