Cornbread and snowflake lights

Thanks for all your kind words on the last post. It was cathartic to write, and I hope that maybe, just maybe we can spread some extra kindness in the world.

As I mentioned in the last post, I channeled my anger into baking. When I get a spur-of-the-moment urge to cook or bake something, I’m always at the mercy of what’s in stock in our pantry, which is at the mercy of the Modern Love Machine’s whims as he’s the grocery shopper in this marriage.

When I was angry the other day, I knew I had a few sweet potatoes on hand and consulted Epicurous for some sort of sweet potato bread recipe. I found sweet potato cornbread, and with a little substitution** I ended up with this:

It’s warm butteriness was just what I needed that day. It didn’t taste of sweet potatoes at all (which was kind of a shame), more like plain ol’ cornbread — and I am a cornbread fanatic. I dubbed it my Angry at the World Cornbread. I think I ate a fourth of it on my own before the MLM even came home. The recipe is after the jump if you’re interested.

And also as I mentioned in the last post, it’s not all doom and gloom here all the time. Really, this has been an enjoyable Advent season thus far. We’ve managed to squeeze all the decorating in around two busy work schedules. I knocked out about 80 percent of my Christmas shopping today online (Etsy’s Facebook tool and Pinterest are my new shopping BFFs). And because we’ve already done two mass mailings this year with wedding invitations and thank you notes, the Christmas card effort is being kept to a lazy minimum of a photo card sent to all the people whose mailing addresses we had that we knew were correct and anyone who bothers to sends us a card. We’re chasing no addresses this season.

Christmas ornamentThe Modern Dad and I made this on Father-Daughter day at Girl Scout Camp in 1989

In about two days I’ll be entering Staycation mode where I work only when absolutely necessary (like three days in the next two weeks) and blowing my leftover vacation days the rest of the time. With decorating, shopping and card mailing almost done, I’m going to spend that time indulging in trips to the movie theatre (I love a good solo matinee), cashing in on a birthday massage and pedi gift certificate, baking some more and just plain enjoying the twinkle of the Christmas lights.

snowflake lightsOh, we painted the dining room a while back, and I STILL haven’t bothered to order the fabric for the curtains. Maybe I’ll get on that during Staycation. Or maybe I’ll just keep our current window treatment installment.

**Did you know that you don’t ever need to keep buttermilk on hand unless you really, really want to? When a recipe calls for somewhere in the vicinity of a cup of buttermilk, get your measuring cup and throw in a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice and then fill the rest of the amount needed with plain ol’ white milk. The vinegar/lemon juice acts as a souring agent, and buttermilk is like a sour milk.

Angry at the World Cornbread
or Sweet Potato Cornbread if you’re in a happier state
from Bon Appétit by way of Epicurious

1 1/4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 1/3 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Pierce sweet potatoes in several places. Microwave on high until tender, turning once, about 12 minutes. Cut open and cool. Mash enough potatoes to yield 1 cup packed (reserve remaining potatoes for another use). Place 1 cup mashed potatoes in large bowl. Whisk in eggs and buttermilk.

Blend cornmeal and next 6 ingredients in processor. Add butter and blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add to egg mixture. Stir just until blended. Transfer to prepared pan.

Bake corn bread until deep golden on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. (Can be made ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature up to 2 days or freeze up to 2 weeks. Thaw at room temperature.)

yields 10 to 12 pieces

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14 Responses to Cornbread and snowflake lights

  1. katelin says:

    oh goodness this looks delicious, i love cornbread, yum!! also those snowflake lights are uber quite, excellent pick.

    • They are my favorite lights! I hung them on the porch last year but didn’t have enough to go all the way around so they looked funny. I couldn’t figure out what to do with them this year until I realized, why not bring them inside?? They make the dining room so warm and happy!

  2. Yum, yum and YUM. The thing that excites me most about being back on land is the prospect of Christmas! baking!

  3. Jessica says:

    I LOVE cornbread! And that recipe looks awesome, I will have to check this out 🙂 YUM

  4. Ally says:

    Thanks for the tip about the buttermilk. I am always in the midst of baking and have to make a mad dash to the store to get some more.

    • I’ve always been driven crazy by recipes where I have everything but one thing — and that one thing only comes in large packages, like buttermilk. I’m kind of lazy, so my substituting can get out of hand sometimes to the point of ruining a dish, but this one works so perfectly that I use it every single time.

  5. allison says:

    I make a kick ass pumpkin bread with cranberries. THAT is delicious and something I bake when I’m in a mood too.

  6. angie says:

    you must go see My Week with Marilyn. I think you’ll love it.

    • YES! It’s on my list. Can you believe I haven’t seen The Help yet, though? I read the book, but it’s been at the top of my to-watch list for months. It’s still at the dollar theater here, so my goal is to go Friday and catch Marilyn, Midnight in Paris and maybe Hugo next week.

  7. sizzle says:

    I love a solo movie trip too. I hope to get one in during my break from work too. Enjoy it!

  8. courtney says:

    Hey, I’ll have to remember that buttermilk trick! I’ve bought many a quart of buttermilk for one recipe and ended up throwing half of it out.

    You deserve a break, lady. I hope your Staycation is super relaxing.

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