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Lessons in tweaking and remembering

By Staff | Dec 4, 2015

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