Cedar Creek Grist Mill celebrates cornmeal

Annual event demonstrates how staple is milled, highlights its role in food history

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter



Legend has it, hush puppies — fried balls of cornmeal — got their name during the Civil War, when Southern soldiers would toss the treats to their dogs and tell them to hush.

The word hoecake is derived from how the cornmeal flatbread was cooked in the 18th century: in the field on a hoe held over an open flame.

If you go

• What: Cedar Creek Grist Mill’s annual corn bread event. Visitors can enjoy several varieties of corn bread made from cornmeal produced at the Grist Mill and take home the recipes. Volunteers will be on hand to explain the milling process, as well.

• When: 1-4 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: Cedar Creek Grist Mill, 43907 N.E. Grist Mill Road, Woodland.

• Admission: Donations accepted.

• Information: 360-225-5832, http://www.cedarc...

And anadama bread supposedly got its name when a fisherman cursed his wife, Anna, for serving him the same cornmeal and molasses every day and decided to add flour and yeast to the porridge to get bread.

Cornmeal and the foods made from it have a rich history in America. The annual Cedar Creek Grist Mill corn bread event celebrates the mythology surrounding cornmeal and encourages families to use the grain at home.

“You can have hot corn bread with a simple meal, and it makes it really special,” said Barb Sizemore of Amboy, a mill volunteer.

The historic Woodland site mills corn from Bob’s Red Mill in Milwaukie, Ore., creating whole-grain cornmeal to be used in cooking and baking.

Visitors can sample different types of corn bread at Saturday’s event. Other cornmeal-based treats such as hush puppies and hoecakes may be available, as well. Then people can take recipes and cornmeal with them to re-create the dishes at home.

The mill is a nonprofit, and everything is by donation. Organizers recommend a $3 donation for a bag of cornmeal, which will make at least three batches of corn bread. The mill also produces and sells soft white wheat flour, used for making foods such as pancakes and muffins, and hard red wheat flour, used in yeast breads and rolls.

The corn will be milled fresh as people watch. Volunteers will be on hand to explain the milling process, which helps families feel more connected to the foods they eat, Sizemore said.

Recipes for corn bread run the gamut from a variation that’s mostly cornmeal, no wheat flour, to a buttermilk corn bread that does contain flour in addition to cornmeal. The options increase when people add ingredients such as bacon, cheese or jalapeños.

The mill will have butter, honey and jam for people to try on their corn bread samples Saturday.

“I love warm corn bread with honey on it,” Sizemore said. “It’s just wonderful.”

Mary Ann Albright: maryann.albright@columbian.com, 360-735-4507.

Buttermilk Corn Bread

Prep time: 20 minutes; Cooking time; 25 minutes. Yield: 9 servings.

Suggested variations from Friends of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill: We love to add 1 cup of shredded cheese to this (sharp cheddar, pepper jack or any full-flavored cheese is good). Adding a cup of well-drained, crispy bacon adds a rich, savory taste to the basic corn bread. For the more daring, add 2 or 3 chopped jalapeño chili peppers to the batter. From “Cooking With Stone Ground Flour” by Arlene Kovash and Marcie Anderson.

2 eggs

¼ cup sugar

1 cup buttermilk

½ cup stone ground flour

½ cup all-purpose flour

⅔ cup cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup salt butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Beat eggs well. Add sugar. Stir in buttermilk.

Stir together dry ingredients and add to egg mixture, mixing well.

Stir in melted butter or margarine and pour into greased 8-inch square baking dish.

Bake for 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Real Cornbread

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes. Yield: 8 servings.

From EatingWell magazine.

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 cups yellow or white cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 large egg, beaten

1½ cups nonfat milk or nonfat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Place oil in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or similar-size glass baking dish and transfer to the preheating oven.

Mix cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add egg and milk (or buttermilk); stir until just combined. Remove the pan from the oven and swirl the oil to coat the bottom and a little way up the sides. Very carefully pour the excess hot oil into the cornmeal mixture; stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the hot pan.

Bake until the bread is firm in the middle and lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve warm.