Monday, November 16, 2009

Pilgrim Cat Cornbread

Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Today marks the start of the Happy Fun Enjoyable Thanksgiving Food-And-Book-O-Rama!  Hooray! Every day until Thanksgiving, I will be posting a new recipe from a holiday-themed book.  I have 10 recipes ready and standing by, and 10 days in which to make them (excluding Thanksgiving itself), so I will do my best to post one each day.

There are several great Thanksgiving-y books out there that I did not pull from - of course, how could I get them all?  Many of the ones I did not choose have Thanksgiving pageants or costumes or visiting relatives as the main story, and the meal spoken of in them is usually the typical turkey-and-stuffing fare.  I chose a few books with typical dishes - like today's cornbread - but I did my best to get some of the more off-beat fare, because not everybody eats that stuff, and most of us already know how to make it, or at least where to find a recipe.  But without further ado or distraction, I give you...

Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock
Pilgrim Cat is a picture book that follows a young girl, Faith, who sets sail on the Mayflower with her family; as the boat is about to leave the dock, she sees a cat jump on board.  The cat, later named Pounce, is a welcome stowaway, as he is an excellent mouser, and Faith adopts him as her own, making sure he is safe in the rough weather and has a home when they reach Plymouth.  All is going well, despite the town's hardships, until Pounce disappears - oh no!  With the help of a friendly Wampanoag, Faith finds Pounce nested in a hollow log with kittens, and we learn that - surprise!! - Pounce is a girl cat.  The feast follows, and everyone is happy.

I really liked this book.  The story begins with an introduction where the author explains what is fact and what is fiction, and though the hardships are sugar-coated, it is historically accurate in age-appropriate way.  The illustrations, by Doris Ettlinger, are beautiful watercolor paintings.  This is one of two titles that I chose from the stacks (and at this point I will admit that I read every Thanksgiving picture book that happened to be on the shelves at BPL when I was there last Friday) where the food is traditional Thanksgiving fare.  Now, traditional feasts, I have learned, are not just turkey and stuffing - in fact, there was no turkey listed in the one eyewitness account available from the first Thanksgiving - but I was not about to make eel pie for you all (SO sorry), and I am not willing to go hunt up a deer, so you're getting cornbread.  And a very tasty cornbread it is!

Pilgrim Cat Cornbread
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400.  Grease a 9x13 pan, or two round cake pans.  In a small bowl, mix the cornmeal with milk and let sit for 5 minutes.
2. In a larger bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Stir in the cornmeal mixture, eggs, and oil, and whisk for 5 minutes (this adds air and makes the resulting bread much lighter).
3. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the bread comes out clean.

Seriously, this cornbread is delicious.  I put some butter on it, and I ate a big slice in about 30 seconds flat, without even trying to speed-eat.  I got the recipe from the AllRecipes website, where it is listed as Homesteader Cornbread.

I hope you enjoy this one.  Be sure to check back tomorrow for another fun dish.  I'm not sure what it will be yet.

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