For lo these past 16 months, some of our neighbors have given us odd looks and not really said much.
Actually, I’ve been OK with that, especially since the day I saw a few of the men in their backyard hunting for something. With guns. In a fenced-in backyard spanning less than an acre of manicured grass and concrete lawn cherubs.
So, we didn’t think they were quite right. And it turns out, they’ve felt the same way about us.
I was walking Henry the Wonderdog, and one of the women who lives there stopped me.
She said, “I talked to your brother the other day.”
I said, “Jeff? Oh, he’s not my brother. He’s my husband.”
She looked down for a second and then looked right at me and said, “I thought you two were awful familiar.”
Oh. My. God.
Then she paused and, as if to comfort me, softly added, “Well, you don’t look that much alike.”
So, if you need comforting – say, it’s a gray day or maybe your neighbors have assumed you were in an incestuous relationship with a sibling – I highly recommend a hunk of Cheesy Mexican Cornbread. If you have a Southern granny, you know Mexican cornbread, a simple cornbread amped up with corn, bell pepper, chopped jalapenos and cheese. Seriously addictive.
God is great. Cornbread is good. And neighbors are crazy.
Cheesy Mexican Cornbread
Adapted from “The Nashville Cookbook”
- 1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon chopped bell pepper
- 1 cup cream-style corn
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapenos (or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or dried red pepper flakes)
- 1 1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup cooking oil or bacon drippings
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, buttermilk, eggs, bell pepper, corn and jalapenos.
- Heat oil in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet for about 7 minutes.
- Pour oil from skillet into the batter. Stir lightly, and pour half of the mixture into the hot skillet. Sprinkle half the cheese on the mixture in the skillet, then pour the remaining cornmeal mixture over this. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
- Bake for 40 minutes. Serve hot.
Smashed Pinto Beans
Adapted from “Southern Living”
Makes 14 servings (serving size: 1/4 cup); 47 calories per serving
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add minced garlic, and sauté 1 minute.
- Stir in tomato sauce and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes.
- Mash bean mixture with a potato masher until thickened, leaving some beans whole.