I am very fond of my elderly copy of Cross Creek Cookery, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Ms. Rawlings was the novelist who wrote The Yearling and the memoir Cross Creek. Just south of Gainesville, Cross Creek was nonetheless an isolated rural community, where Rawlings lived and farmed in a citrus grove, and wrote her books.
This cookbook is a collection of family, personal and regional recipes that Ms. Rawlings liked to cook, and she was apparently a very good cook indeed. It's no end of fun to read. The book, which was published in 1942, has a charming bookcloth pictoral cover, as well as nifty endpapers, and is just a nice object altogether. I don't have the dustwrapper, and my copy is a little shabby around the edges, but it is a reading and cooking copy, and I am attached to it. I found it many years ago in a used book store, and snapped it up. It is the sort of cookbook you can read for entertainment, but there are also a number of very good recipes I use often. It seems to be available in paperback, as does Cross Creek which I am embarassed to admit I have not read (yet).
I have been using Ms. Rawling's very nice recipe for cornbread slightly adapted) for some time. It is entirely and perfectly plain, though you can jazz it up with additions if you want. But I like it just as it is, for breakfast, with coffee or tea, warm, cold, toasted, with or without butter and/or homemade jam. It is especially delicious made with Anson Mills coarse yellow cornmeal, which I learned about reading Eggbeater, and ordered. It was definitely worth the trouble, and I'm getting some more.
This is all you need:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal (nicest stone ground available, or order from Anson Mills)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk or soured milk
1/4 cup melted butter, bacon fat, or drippings
Put a well greased heavy 8 or 9 inch pan, preferably your well seasoned 8 or 9 inch cast iron skillet, in a cold oven and preheat oven and pan to 350F. Meanwhile, combine flour, cornmeal, baking soda. and salt in a bowl. Add buttermilk, mixing thoroughly. Depending on the age of your AP flour, it may absorb more liquid. You can add a bit more buttermilk when the batter seems too dry, which you will be able to assess with a little experience making this. (Sorry, not terribly helpful, I know...but true. It is really a matter of feel, I'm afraid....but not complex.) Add egg, mix. Stir in melted butter. Open the oven, pull out the rack with the pan, and pour the batter into the pan. Pop it back in the oven and cook 30-40 minutes, until golden.
While looking for the site citations for this post, I began reading about Cross Creek, and decided I have been missing something. I understand from reading some reviews, that the book while "of it's time" (hmm, hope that doesn't mean it's racist, as is sometimes the case) shows an unusual sensitivity to environmental issues and is a well done evocation of the rural community. So I'll be looking for the book to find out about that.
Meanwhile, it turns out there is a movie of "Cross Creek", with Mary Steenbergen playing M. R., and her Cross Creek home is a Florida state tourist site! Who knew? I guess I should have realized that nothing about a Pulizer Prize winner would be obscure.