The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Monday, December 20, 2010

Simple Tastes: Nonie's Light Cornbread

I have very simple tastes in food. I've tried lots of fancy recipes here and there over the years, but most of that fancy food just doesn't satisfy me. A few years ago, when Joyce and I went out sometimes to high end restaurants with a gourmet couple we used to know, we generally judged the experience "fun" but not necessarily tasty or filling.

I suppose this goes back to my upbringing. My Mom was a great cook, but what she did well was take the simplest fare and do it with quality in her own unique way. Her specialties were yeast rolls, cornbread, potato salad, cole slaw, white beans, meat loaf, roasts, fried chicken, chocolate cake, apple pie, etc.

Joyce, the other great cook in my life, is from the same simple tradition. She learned some things from her mother, but also a lot from her Grandmother Talley. Over the years she's even taught me some of those secrets.

On this past Saturday afternoon, while I was doing the grocery shopping, she prepared the evening meal. Around 3 PM she put on the white (Northern) beans. They were ready by the time I came in.

Then I watched (and took a couple of pictures) as she prepared Nonie's Light Cornbread, which is what we call it now. "Nonie" is the name our grandkids all call her. This cornbread has been modified over the years to reflect the low fat approach we take to our diet. We don't try to  eliminate fat, just keep it low.

Nonie's Light Cornbread

1 and 1/2 to 2 cups White Lily Buttermilk Corn Meal, self rising. Some in the South might consider this a travesty, not using Martha White. We think the White Lily is finer ground, resulting in a smoother, less coarse texture in the baked bread.

One egg. Not two, one will do.

1 to 1 and 1/2 cup of skim or 1% Milk. The mixed batter should have consistency but still pour from a spoon.

Use no oil or lard in the batter. It's good that way, but you get a lot of fat grams.

Using a whisk, stir all these together in a batter. Stir well. One of Grandmother Talley's secrets was making sure the ingredients were thoroughly mixed together.

While you're preparing the ingredients, spray some of that no stick butter flavor cooking spray inside your iron skillet.

Place in oven for five minutes as it's pre heating to 450 degrees. When you pour the batter in, it should sizzle in the hot skillet as it fries the batter around the edges. These crunchy parts make for some good eating later when the bread is ready.

Place the skillet with the batter in the oven for approximately 15 minutes. If your oven has a window, you can tell when the cornbread is ready; the top will be a golden brown like in the pic above.

We butter the top of the bread in the skillet with Smart Balance Light spread. Cut into pie shaped sections. Enjoy!

That Saturday night we had White Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Cole Slaw, Onions, and Nonie's Light Cornbread. Ummm. Ummm. Good.

Simple, but good.


  1. Sounds so good it just makes your tongue want to slap your brains out!
    We here in the south, have been left with a legacy of great food.

  2. Your Mom's (and Joyce's!) cooking sounds a lot like a Mom I knew and loved. Being as how the lady was born and raised in Atlanta that should come as no surprise.

    That said... my Mom's Southern "roots" was the foundation for her cooking; she added bits and pieces from the regional cooking in all the places we were stationed in over the years. The most notable additions came from living in Paris for three years, California Southwest cuisine was the second biggest influence. She had a unique cooking style by the time the Ol' Man retired from the AF, lemmee tell ya!

    I DO miss her cornbread!