Lessons in tweaking and remembering
Okay, I’m reporting back. For those of you who may have tried the unlikely cornbread recipe from last month’s column, and for those of you who haven’t, I can report an improvement to the formula.
As you may remember, the basics are: one box of cornbread mix, one 12-ounce can of diet ginger beer, and one cup of baking mix (like Bisquick), mixed together to form a loose batter, poured into a greased nine-by-nine baking pan and baked at about 325 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. In my oven, that takes about 45 to 50 minutes.
The cornbread that this recipe produces is moist and slightly sweet, with a ginger edge.
Not one to leave well enough alone, I have tweaked it further. To the basics, I now add an egg, beaten with a small amount of the diet soda to loosen it, then added to the dry ingredients with the rest of the liquid. Also, I have replaced the ginger beer with 12 ounces of flavored selzer; I use peach, to get sweetness without too much identifiable flavor. Finally, after the batter is mixed, I fold in a small well-drained can of Mexicali corn — the kind with the red and green peppers.
This produces a significant improvement. Next, I will try the new basic recipe with a cup of shredded cheddar and chopped fresh jalapenos instead of the corn. I expect this will turn out just fine.
I also learned something else new this month. I offer you a tip to always know how to navigate a dining table dressed for formal service.
Here’s how I learned:
At an advanced age, after a good, long life, my uncle passed away in October. The family assembled and a luncheon was prepared. At a long dining table, more than a dozen place settings included forks for salad and an entre, water and wine glasses and to the side, bread-and-butter plates.
Maya, the youngest among us, asked loudly, “How do I know which bread plate is mine?” The adults mostly mumbled; most of us were taking a flying guess ourselves.
Then a cousin piped up. She had a device for remembering. She told Maya to circle her thumb and index finger on each hand.
Go ahead, readers. Try it.
When you do, your left hand will make a lower case B, and your right hand, a lower case D. And there you have it. The B stands for Bread and the D stands for Drink. At a formal table, your bread plate is to the left, and your drinking glass is at the right-hand corner of your place setting.
Finally, confidence at the formal table, made from fingers forming little Bs and Ds. O