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sweet and salty cornbread

Some say that during these economic downturns, we should all count our blessing for the things that we have (jobs, friends, a roof over our heads). For example, I know that I’m lucky to have a job that fills my fridge with food, puts clothes on my back and shoes on my feet, and allows me to go out every now and then. I recognize that mimosas and sushi are privileges, not rights. But I can’t help if I get a little angsty. You see, I had a plan. A big life plan. No, I didn’t have set dates for weddings, babies, etc, but I had a nice idea of what I wanted to do with my life post-college.

That all went to hell once the economy soured. I was supposed to have a great PR job that might not have paid as much as I was worth but I’d be ok with it. I was supposed to have this nerdy and witty boy who’d be able to make me smile all the time. Toss in a couple trips to Italy, Prague, and Turkey and you basically had the rough draft of my life plan.

Funny, I never planned on what I would should those plans fall through. I mean, if you do everything right, aren’t things supposed to work out? Instead, I find myself struggling a bit to just be. Don’t worry, you will get there. Patience Amanda! Times are tough; don’t get your hopes up too high. You should be grateful for what you have! These are all the things I hear, and I take the message to heart. But I cringe when I hear people say that right now, trying to accomplish those lofty goals of yours is ludicrous. Recessions= dreams. I couldn’t disagree more. I say dream big, and dream hard. Because sometimes, when you are struggling to pay the rent or provide for your families, your dreams are the only things that get you going.

Right now, it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut but why not flip the situation upside down? Sure, jobs right now might suck but maybe that’s a good thing. When else will you find the time to do research on that career you’ve been dying to get in to? Or how about heading back to college to get that degree your parents told you was pointless? Now is the time people. Do your research and get going. Instead of whining about my lack of job creativity, I decided that today was the day I started doing research on opening up my own small business.

Fully equipped with my books and internet, I am plunging headfirst in to these uncharted waters. I can’t tell you how excited I am. I’ve spent the past week staying up late, reading marketing research, going through business plans, signing up for extra classes, and I’ve never been more tired. But, at the same time, I’ve never been more excited. I know it will take lots of work and dedication, but I’m in it for the long haul. If it wasn’t for coffee and baked goods, I’d probably be moody and starving since I’ve had no time to properly sit down for actual meals, unless you count a bowl of edamame a meal.

There is nothing like a big chunk of cornbread with a big cup of ‘jo to fuel your late night endeavors. I used the recipe from King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Baking and I thought it turned out really good. While it may not be the kind of cornbread that knocks your socks off (exhibit A) it’s the kind of cornbread that leaves you satiated, not stuffed. Plus, I’d rather down biscuits and gravy if I was looking for a food coma. No, this cornbread is more of the every-day-kind, meaning you won’t feel bad for nibbling on this bread throughout the day. The honey adds a subtle sweetness and the whole wheat pastry flour keeps the bread light and fluffy while adding in some much-needed whole grains.

I prefer to eat chunks of cornbread fresh out of the oven, as they are hot and ready for a dollop of butter. I also like a little smear of jam, which might upset some of you, but cornbread and jam is like flavor nirvana.

Sweet & salty come together for the best combination. And really, when have I ever let you down?

Printable recipe
Origin: King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Baking
Yield: One 9-inch square pan or 12 muffins
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 to 30 minutes

● 2 cups whole cornmeal
● 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
● 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
● 2 tsp baking powder
● 1 tsp baking soda
● 1 tsp salt
● 2 cups buttermilk
● 1/4 cup honey
● 2 large eggs
● 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
● 1 tbsp butter, for the pan

Preheat the oven to 400℉. For a crispy crust, place a 9-inch square pan or muffin pan.
Whisk together the cornmeal, flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk, honey, eggs, and melted butter in a separate bowl. Add, all at once, to the dry ingredients, stirring quickly and lightly just until the batter is evenly combined.
Remove the pan from the oven and place the tablespoon of butter (or grease) into it. Swirl the pan around so the butter melts and covers the bottom and sides. Carefully transfer the batter to the hot pan, and return it to the oven to bake until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Note: if you are making muffins like I did, you need to cut the baking time down to 15 minutes. I started checking on mine at the 15-minute-threshold and they were close to being overbaked.
Remove from the oven, and serve warm. Cornbread will keep for 3 days when wrapped tightly with plastic wrap.

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June 7, 2009 - 9:02 pm

justatitch - The good news about life plans is that while they can sometimes taste a little bitter when they don’t go as planned is that they usually transform into something sweeter than you could’ve dreamed. Good for you for working so hard! You deserve good things.

June 8, 2009 - 2:29 am

Ozge - Oh Amanda this is so exciting! All my prayers are with you :)

June 8, 2009 - 4:33 am

Lindsey - As I like to say, life is what happens when you’re making plans. I’m the queen of making plans, and I’m trying to become more flexible for when they don’t work out. Some will, some won’t. It can be hard to think positively, but at the same time, when things don’t work out, you can have a life changing event.

One example is how last summer I was job hunting, and while at the time I was frustrated by going on interviews but not getting hired, I felt like I was in a rut at work. Then the economy went to hell, and my boss left, giving me opportunities at my current place, and I’d be without a job had I been hired at any of the places I had applied, as many of them laid off staff in my area. So some things can be a blessing in disguise, you just might not know it right away.

June 8, 2009 - 6:32 am

bakingepiphanies - One thing I’ve learned, Life always knows better than we do. Mostly, it’s just a matter of us catching up to all the bigger, better, greater dreams Life has in store for us when we let go of our limited, inside-the-box thinking. Good on you for taking that challenge and turning it around. Lovely cornbread – can’t beat the sweet and salty, and I like the idea of using whole wheat pastry flour instead of AP.

June 8, 2009 - 10:23 am

stephchows - Great job staying positive, it can be really hard to especially when you see friends struggling. I am so grateful for my job and the constant support of loved ones

June 8, 2009 - 12:34 pm

gemma - Good luck! This recipe sounds perfect for the rainy week I’ve been having.

June 8, 2009 - 12:41 pm

kickpleat - This looks great…but really, you just need to say the words “sweet & salty” and I’m yours. Bookmarking.

June 8, 2009 - 9:57 pm

FOOD IS LUV - i love cornbread and these look delicious! love your photos too!

June 9, 2009 - 9:30 am

Sally - Oooh, I hope you open up a sweets shop somewhere in downtown Sac. I’ll be your #1 customer! We need a better baked goods locale here in Sac.

June 9, 2009 - 1:35 pm

Jess - It sounds like these are exciting times for you! You did a lovely job capturing the simultaneous anxiety and fun inherent in moments like these. Sweet and salty. Yes. I love the photographs in this post. And by the way, I’m with you that jelly on cornbread is heaven.

June 9, 2009 - 5:56 pm

Nicole - Sounds like you have had a busy but exciting week!
I agree with you one hundred and ten percent!
Keep your dreams big!
Good luck with your dream of opening a small businesss! It’s creativity that we need right now, not lack of!
Hope all is well!
Peace and Love!

June 10, 2009 - 2:30 am

Melissa - Good for you! Good luck with it all!

June 11, 2009 - 7:12 am

Robin - So exciting, Amanda. Can’t wait to have more details. You go, girl! :D

June 12, 2009 - 1:51 pm

nicole - You know I love the sweet-salty … Best of luck to you my dear! I know you’ll succeed at whatever you do, and I can’t wait to hear all about it.

June 12, 2009 - 5:15 pm

cindy - congrats on the new business dreams and schemes! very, very brave. today i signed up for a jewelry making class…i’ve been tinkering with it for a while, and it seems like the time to get serious…dream big, all of that! great post, and as for the cornbread…yum!

June 17, 2009 - 2:37 am

syrie - Good luck Amanda. You\’ve got a great attitude! And you\’re a fantastic cook!

March 10, 2010 - 5:42 pm

Jen - I made this cornbread in a cast iron skillet to go with some gumbo, and it was super lovely. Thank you for the inspiration!

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