I moved from a bustling city to a small town, so thickly-painted with Mayberry charm, that I decided to stay a little while. Twenty one years later, this laid-back town is still one I enjoy exploring, even alone, day or night.
My biggest worry? Being mugged at needlepoint in a Walmart parking lot, while Andy Griffith lurks in the shadows, whistling a familiar tune.
You're probably asking yourself, where is this pleasantly-strange little town?
Whereas my question is, what in the heck is sheriff Andy Griffith doing hanging around Walmart?
If, like me, you live in a town that atlas forgot, then you'll appreciate simple recipes, like the following.
Only three ingredients make up these addictive Cornmeal Crisps, because (unless you live in the Sahara desert) who counts water?
Make. Eat. Share (as always, the latter is optional).
1 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
1½ to 2 cups boiling water
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Whisk together cornmeal and salt in a mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces.
Slowly stir in enough boiling water until mixture resembles watery mashed potatoes. Continue to whisk until butter is melted and batter is smooth. Set aside.
Lightly grease two rimless baking sheets with nonstick vegetable spray, and wipe off the excess, leaving a light coating on the pans. Drop batter by teaspoons onto baking sheets. Slam baking sheets onto the kitchen counter a few times to spread the batter very thin.
Bake crisps for 20 to 30 minutes until golden around the edges. To get the crisps to curl up as shown, turn them over during the last 5 minutes of baking. Makes about 50 cornmeal crisps.
Adapted from 'The Gift of Southern Cooking,' by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock.
Please note: You might be tempted to use parchment paper, but I don't recommend it. Parchment paper will buckle, making it difficult to remove the crisps without breaking.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Edna Lewis' version for a simple and dramatic way to serve these. Instead of dropping the batter by teaspoons, divide batter among two baking sheets, tap, tap, tap, and bake as directed. Once cooled, break them into shards.
Did you notice the grated lime zest in some of the crisps? A nice touch.
There are times, however, when the men-folk request a little heat, so adding a tiny pinch of cayenne to the batter makes them happy. As for me, I like them plain.
But I urge you to plunge into it with blind faith, and share your experiments with me.
Whether you decide to spice up your Cornmeal Crisps, or not, try pairing them with this quick and refreshing Guacamole Soup, and enjoy. I always do.
Chilled Guacamole Soup
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups chicken broth
1 large avocado, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons salsa
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro*
Purée soup ingredients in a blender or food processor. Salt & Pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Garnish with crema fresca, diced avocado, chopped tomato or chopped cilantro. Serves 4.
*I'm not a fan of cilantro, so I use fresh mint.
Did you miss that? Go back up. And look at my 'new' antique kitchen scale.
I went right into a schoolgirl rave when I laid eyes on this old scale, at an estate sale recently.
This is not just another pretty copper face, it's also pretty accurate. The kind of thing I'm incapable of walking away from.
And this one kept calling my name. But I ignored the voices, and brought it home with me anyway.
Another recent find was this humble marmalade crock. Being in the antiques business with years of experience under my belt, I believe this fine piece could be traced back to the turn of the century. Or possibly T.J. Maxx. Not sure which.
I filled it with violets, because "they're the only flowers I cannot destroy," she said in a tremulous voice