My intention is to make this post short-ish, because there is just so much football to watch today. I’ve got the Tennessee/UCLA game on mute while I write, and a bit later I’m leaving to watch the Georgia game with the rest of the alum here in Seattle. (We don’t even need to talk about last week’s game. The only highlights: free beer at the sports bar where Michael and I watched the game in New York, and our opening drive.)
Anyway, I really enjoyed everyone’s comments about the blackberry cobbler post. It was a lot of fun to write and remember so many very dear memories from Swainsboro. So thanks, y’all!
I have just as many wonderful memories from Winnie’s house in Cordele. (We never called her Grandmother or anything, because everyone calls her Winnie—short for Winifred.) I suppose the difference is that Winnie still lives in Cordele, and I go down there usually once a year or so. The frequency of trips to Cordele has decreased as us grandchildren have become adults; it’s easier for her to come up to Atlanta and stay at our house, or to Greenville, to stay with Uncle Noel and Aunt Susan.
Along with a love of traveling (hereditary, I think), antiques expertise, card-playing habit, green thumb, and talent for storytelling, Winnie is a fantastic cook, and I grew up with her regularly producing huge meals for 10+ people seemingly out of thin air. My favorite meals that Winnie cooked—she’s coming up on her 90th birthday in February, so she cooks less often now—were her breakfasts. She’d get up earlier than everybody in the house, and half an hour later we awoke to the smell of Stripling’s sausage, bacon, grits, eggs, biscuits, and toast. (I cannot believe Stripling’s sausage has a website…we are truly living in the age of technology, people.)
I toyed with the idea of making her toast for a blog post, but figured it would be very lazy of me. It’s still the best toast I’ve ever had, though…just white bread with five dots of butter—four in each corner, one in the middle—put under the broiler for a few minutes. Instead, I decided to make her “lacy cakes.” Even though they were never served at breakfast, it’s one of the recipes she made up somewhere along the way that I’ve only ever had at her house, and they’re just very Winnie.
During a phone conversation with her a couple of months ago, I asked her to send me some of her signature recipes in the mail, and this was one of them. Lacy cakes are basically cornmeal fritters, and the recipe is very simple—only two ingredients—and perfect as an accompaniment with just about any plate of meat and vegetables.
The recipe card Winnie sent me with the lacy cakes recipe.
Makes about a dozen fritters.
1 cup white cornmeal
1 cup water
“grease” for frying (This appears in several of Winnie’s, and most old, Southern, recipes. I was a little unsure of what exactly this meant—I think if you’re making these as part of a big meal, you could just use the grease that something was inevitably rendered or fried in. I used canola oil.)
Combine the cornmeal and water in a bowl, and whisk it together. It will be soupy.
Heat the grease (or oil, or whatever) in a skillet. Winnie’s recipe card says to heat it in a hot iron skillet, but alas, I don’t have an iron skillet. Bad Southerner! Put enough in there to over the fritters; I put in about 1/4-inch worth of oil.
Drop the cornmeal mixture into the hot grease one tablespoon at a time, with a maximum of three in the pan at once. By the time you have dropped the third tablespoon in, it’ll be time to turn over the first one; they cook very quickly, so be aware of that.
When they’re brown (but not too brown!) take them out and drain on paper towels. You can sprinkle a little bit of salt on them if you want to, but I didn’t because I like the taste of the cornmeal without the salt.
See the crisp edges that look like lace? Kind of?
The first few I made didn’t look great, but after three or four, I got the hang of it. Just be careful of the hot oil…it’s messy enough to clean up afterward, and burning yourself doesn’t make it easier.
The beautiful plate in this picture, along with bowls and plates in previous posts, was handmade by Laura Belle’s sister. She is so talented—we have a bunch of her cups, mugs, and plates at the house. If you’re interested in buying something from her, let me know and I’ll put you in touch!
OK, I am off to cheer on the Dawgs! Hopefully we can win this one against the Evil Genius. Crossing my fingers that the visor gets thrown!