Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Individual Buttermilk Spoon Breads

After my midterm yesterday, my nervousness had lessened despite having been up since 4:30 a.m. that morning (and up for nearly twenty-one hours by the time I went to sleep). Along with figuring out how to handle my hypothyroid condition as well as keeping my adrenals from getting wonky with my immune system, I am still having issues with falling asleep and staying asleep. Could it be a hormonal imbalance or the inability to manage stress, I do not yet know. What I do know is that I am in a better place because I have a great support system called “Family.”

With all of these health concerns I have to be careful with what I put into my body. While it is true that I love a good cup o’ Joe in the mornings, my caffeine intake stops with that drink of the gods. My daily intake for unrefined sweeteners (i.e., honey, maple syrup, or agave) doesn’t exceed one tablespoon. Obviously I avoid gluten and soy products, and I take special pride in knowing how food affects me. Chocolate is one that I do not eat much of anymore because, even when unsweetened or made with sugars I do eat, I feel a tad “off” afterward. I don’t digest corn properly unless it treated with lime as it is with most masa harina brands. With my hypothyroid and adrenal conditions, I have to take particular care of myself. When I get headaches after I’ve eaten, I know that I am either dehydrated or I haven’t eaten enough. It’s usually a combination of the two.

Even with the headaches, the shakes, and the flare-ups from my adrenal glands, I am extremely grateful that my body tells me immediately when something’s wrong and instantly calms down after I’ve given it what it needs. I am also grateful for being able to discern the symptoms from the illness. I know I’m not sick, but something is keeping me from sleeping and being at peace.

Anxiety and insomnia can really affect your day, but our dinners have been satisfying more than our physiological needs, and spoon bread has become a weekly affair as the result.

Spoon bread hails from the states south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and has a similar consistency to savory puddings like England’s Yorkshire pudding. It’s rich, creamy, and a great side dish to just about anything. When it was Mama Dazz’s turn to cook a few weeks back, I had forgotten just how delicious it was. The spoon breads of our kitchen’s past were made from a box – with cornmeal and wheat – but the Joy of Cooking has quite a few spoon bread recipes that don’t even call for gluten ingredients. I will definitely work with different flavor combinations in the future, and the spoon bread recipe calling for cooked rice or millet looked very interesting…

In all seriousness, though, this recipe is scrumptious as is. Have it for breakfast. Have it for dessert. One bite and you will be hooked for life.    

Individual Buttermilk Spoon breads (Adapted from Mama Dazz’s 1975 copy of Joy of Cooking)

1 c. (120 g) Masa harina or white cornmeal
1 1/2 c. (360 ml) Boiling water
1 Egg
1 tbsp. Butter
1 c. (240 ml) Buttermilk
1 tsp. Baking soda
1/4 tsp. Sea salt

Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the masa harina.
Mix well and let the mixture cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and place the greased baking dish(es) in the center.
Beat together the egg, butter, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt and slowly add it to the masa harina.
Pour the batter into the now hot baking dishes (either one 7-inch or four medium-sized ramekins).
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes (or until a nice brown crust has formed on the tops).
Serve with a slab of butter or a drizzle of cream.

Serves 4.

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