In my family, there are certain things you don’t eat w/out cornbread. It’s just not done. These would include: any kind of beans (but especially bean soup), almost any kind of soup (but especially chicken noodle or potato-based chowders), and chili.
There are more (anything Grandma or Aunt Bonnie served w/ cornbread, for instance). Suffice to say, cornbread is pretty serious business at my house. And especially when company comes.
Last night, I committed heresy. I served a variation of my mother’s cornbread recipe TO COMPANY. And I had the temerity to cook it in Great-Grandma’s cast-iron skillet!
Because the deal is, I have family (whom I adore) who have celiac disease (gluten intolerance, often very serious). And even our cornbread — which has a high proportion of cornmeal (the secret to good cornbread, in case you wondered) — still has wheat flour. A no-no for two nieces.
So I’ve been experimenting w/ gluten-free breads. I like to cook, and it’s fun. BUT… It can’t just be ‘gluten-free.’ It has to also taste good. Hence my working w/ my new favourite ingredient: BUCKWHEAT!
It’s a very old grain substitute (turns out buckwheat is neither a grain nor a cereal; who knew??). And I grew up eating buckwheat pancakes. But that was about it, until we went to Asia, where buckwheat noodles (soba) are common. I like it.
But it doesn’t cook like wheat. It needed some…reflection. Some tinkering. And since I know how to make cornbread almost in my sleep, that was a good place to start. Turns out? All it needed was more moisture, a little more fat, and a shorter cooking time. And voilà! Wonderful buckwheat cornbread! TOTALLY gluten free!
My husband was skeptical — all modesty aside, my usual, traditional cornbread is pretty spectacular. Buckwheat wasn’t high on his list of things to try. Still, he’s a good sport, and when I offered to make it last night, when his sister came in to visit for a couple of weeks, he was game to try it. It was a HUGE success.
So: what’s this have to do w/ beginner’s heart, I hear you wondering? IF you’ve even made it this far…
Don’t let well-enough alone, folks. Don’t ‘settle,’ or become ‘that person’ who won’t play w/ his or her food. Seriously — what can you do, to your ordinary life, that might make it more of a gift for someone else? I know — I won’t belabour it. But think about it: who might need buckwheat cornbread in your life?