Monday, October 20, 2014

Meatless Monday: The Joy and Benefits of Cooking at Home

Food writer Mark Bittman makes a strong case that cooking and eating at home is good for you and for your family. In the “How to Eat Now” issue of Time,  Bittman wrote, “…not cooking is a big mistake—and it’s one that’s costing us money, good times, control, serenity, and, yes, vastly better health.”  

In his newest cookbook, How to Cook Everything Fast, he demonstrates how easy meal preparation can be if you are organized and do a bit of planning ahead. This latest addition to the How to Cook Everything series is full of hints on how to stock your kitchen, menus, preparation tips, and suggestions for making the most of your time. Even though I’ve been cooking at home for most of my life, I suspect I can learn a few tricks from this volume.

In the spirit of illustrating just how simple it is to cook at home, I thought I’d share a favorite cornbread recipe from The Moosewood Cookbookwritten by Mollie Katzen in 1977. 

You will need a few simple ingredients and an 8” or 9” square metal pan or ovenproof glass dish or a cast iron skillet (my pan of choice) for baking.

Delicious Corn Bread

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup buttermilk* (OR 4 Tbsp. dry powdered buttermilk and one cup of water)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal** 
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. melted butter

  • Preheat oven to 425° (400° if using a glass pan)
  • Butter your baking pan well.
  • Beat together egg, buttermilk (or water), and honey.
  • Mix all dry ingredients together.
  • Combine all ingredients, including melted butter, and mix well.
  • Spread into buttered pan. 
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes.
  • Test for doneness at 18 minutes. The tester (or sharp knife) should come out clean when inserted into the center of the pan. When the bread pulls away from the side of the pan that is a good indication that it is about done. You want the bread fully baked, but not dry.

*If you are doubtful that you will use up the remainder of the liquid buttermilk before it goes bad, try powdered buttermilk instead. Powdered buttermilk stores for months (the site claims years) when refrigerated, and there are clear instructions for its use printed on the container. Mix the powder with the dry ingredients and add water when prompted to add the liquid buttermilk.

**Bob’s Red Mill has a Non GMO variety if this matters to you.

My favorite cornbread pan — empty!
Cornbread is the perfect accompaniment to chili or stew and is great with butter and jam for breakfast. It reheats well if there are leftovers. Once you’ve made your own there will be no going back to the store-brought variety. 

Here’s to home cooking! 

Happy Meatless Monday. Good health to you, and to the planet.

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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