Jiffy Cornbread is an abomination to Southerner's everywhere, according to my sister's friend Erica. She is a bright woman. I was concerned that I was an abomination, but according to her I am not and have never been. We did make a couple of Jiffy cakes in college. Those were wild times. A whole cake for $.33. The icing was another $.33. I think we've all changed our ways since then. Unfortunately, I do have to admit to using the Martha White Buttermilk Cornbread mix. It is not homemade, but it is easy and I don't have to worry about whether or not I have buttermilk in the fridge. I really shouldn't say that I worry about whether or not buttermilk is in the fridge. It's not in the fridge. It's never there. That would involve a weekly commitment to cook multiple things using buttermilk, and I am just not at that point in my life right now...okay.
On my last visit with my nephew, I asked him to gimme some sugar. He's almost 5, and he already knows what that means. I suspect he normally hears it from his Gigi who says something along the lines of "Gimme some sugar, my doodlebug." And then she hands him money or peanut butter crackers. He has been trained properly. I don't think I will continue with the whole sugar, baby, sweetie thing. Only certain people can pull that off, and I am definitely not one of them. I do call one of the cats sweetie, but they seldom roll their eyes at me so I feel safe in doing so.
I had a friend suggest that I make the thing that has pistachio pudding and nuts and pineapple in it. The more educated know exactly what this is without me providing a name. Yes, it is Watergate salad. Why is it called that? Feel free to Google it and find the really boring explanations. This is not exactly a Jello dish, since it involves pudding. I recall as a child despising this salad/dessert thing. Now, I do not know why. It is really easy to make and delicious. I don't know why it has been eliminated from our family gatherings. The recipe I found had pistachio pudding, pecans, pineapple, Cool Whip, and marshmallows in it. Just mix them all together and stick in the fridge. My husband likes the green one better than the pink one, so there you go - a professional review.
Out of fear that a flash mob potluck may pop up, I decided to tackle a Jello dish that is worthy of such an event. My earliest Jello-related memory is of what we called Pink Salad. It may have been a way for our mom to sneak fruit into our diet, even though I did spend a great deal of time making certain I picked out as much of the fruit as possible. Let's face it, fruit is for cobblers and raccoons. I decided that the best test of my skills would be to try to recreate the recipe from memory rather than actually asking for it. That's always fun. It was pretty simple - fruit cocktail, cottage cheese, strawberry jello, and Cool Whip. I took a guess at the amounts and got close, I believe. One thing I failed to realize was that Cool Whip is still slightly frozen in the middle if you use purchased it about 15 minutes before you use it. This left some streaks of white in the dish, but it was still good. Truly, how can you mess up any recipe that involves Cool Whip. Maybe one day, I will no longer be the person who volunteers for rolls or drinks at the potluck. I dream of the day that I proudly sign the list under "Miscellaneous."
In that honored Southern tradition of frying everything and to fulfill my husband's wishes, I tried frying a little cornbread. I asked Momma if we call them Hoe Cakes, and she said that we just call it fried cornbread. I do apologize if we are not as colorful and folksy as you like. Fried cornbread gives you more of the best part of the cornbread experience, the crunchy crust. After Monday's experience, my husband said "wouldn't it be great if you could make this so that it had crunchy all around." Wish granted. This is probably the easiest project I've attempted. Get the oil hot. Mix together cornmeal and buttermilk. My mom says she makes it with water a lot of times, but I have leftover buttermilk for which I have no other use. The hardest part for me was making the first flip. I put a photo below of how messy that looked. In the end, I thought it came out very pretty...and tasty. As I was frying the cornbread, a friend of mine called and I told her what I was doing. We discussed how Paula Deen calls this food hoe cakes, so she thought that's what I should call it. I said that I was no Paula Deen. She said that I was right about that, "You're more of a Paula Don't." I don't think I'm going to answer the phone anymore.
The one time that I attempted making cornbread from scratch was just after my husband and I got married. I believe he was expecting that if he married a Southerner, the least he could hope for was cornbread now and then. He's from Buffalo and can make really good Buffalo wings; I can see where he might make incorrect assumptions about me. The cornbread cooked for what seemed to be hours, and it never did get solid inside. I had tried to make it like my Momma, which involves absolutely no measurement tools and apparently an egg that I didn't know about. Well, this past weekend, Momma came to visit us. She walked me through step by step. She does it slightly different than Martha White, although it's the same ingredients. And yes, I use Martha White self-rising white cornmeal for the same reason I use Tetley tea...because my Momma does. I'll put her recipe but for now I'm just going to show you a picture of how pretty the cornbread was. Momma said it was the best cornbread she had ever had. I do believe she is biased. Will I be able to repeat this when I'm alone? That is a question my husband would like answered.
Thinking only of my husband and not possible summer clearance items, I suggested that we stop to shop around at the Bass Pro Shop in Macon, GA. It seems to be a distribution center attached to the store, which means a large number of sale items. After we had shopped for a while and found nothing, we decided to get some lunch. At the same exit was a place we just could not pass up. It was called Pig in a Pit. I mean come on. What I liked most were the names of the sandwiches. There was the Piglet, the Piggy, and the Big Pig. I'm not sure why my husband couldn't order the Piglet. I guess Big Pig sounded more masculine. Along the same lines, I refused to order anything called Potato Logs. It was my style BBQ. I had to put quite a bit of the vinegar-based sauce on it, but that combined with the hot sauce had a lot of flavor. The sweet tea was very acceptable, and the sweet potato was excellent. If you somehow find yourself in Macon for who knows what reason, it wouldn't hurt to stop at the Pig in a Pit.