Claire’s Spoon Bread from Drums of Autumn
“That’s a fine wee book, Uncle Jamie,” Ian said, with approval. “Does it say more about the snakes?” He looked hungrily over the expanse of table, in search of more food. Without comment, I reached into the hutch and brought out a plate of spoonbread, which I set before him. He sighed happily and waded in, as Jamie turned the page.
“Well, here’s a bit about how the rattlesnakes charm squirrels and rabbits.” Jamie touched his plate, but encountered nothing save bare surface. I pushed the muffins toward him.
” ‘It is surprizing to observe how these Snakes will allure and charm Squirrel, Hedge-Conneys, Partridges and many other small Beasts and Birds to them, which they quickly devour. The Sympathy is so strong between these, that you shall see the Squirrel or Partridge (as they have espied this Snake) leap or fly from Bough to Bough, until at last they run or leap directly into its Mouth, not having power to avoid their enemy, who never stirs out of the Posture or Quoil until he obtains his Prey.’ “
His hand, blindly groping after sustenance, encountered the muffins. He picked one up and glanced up at me. “Damned if I’ve ever seen that, myself. D’ye think it likely?”
“No,” I said, pushing the curls back off my forehead. “Does that book have any helpful suggestions for dealing with vicious pigs?”
He waved absently at me with the remnants of his muffin.
“Dinna fash,” he murmured. “I’ll manage the pig.” He took his eyes off the book long enough to glance over the table at the empty dishes. “Are there no more eggs?”
Diana Gabaldon, Drums of Autumn (Chapter 25)
I wouldn’t be worried so much about the pig as I would be about having enough food to get Jamie and Young Ian through the coming winter. Those 2 can really put it away.
You may have noticed in your journey through these books that Claire only cooks when she has too — and given the circumstances, I can’t blame her. Cooking in the comfort of my well-appointed kitchen is one thing. Cooking over an open hearth in a hastily built, cramped cabin far from civilization is another. And when you consider that she probably had no more than an iron pot, a knife, a couple of pewter plates and a wooden spoon, our favourite surgeon turned home-steader’s efforts to feed her 2 men become bloody heroic.
Can you find me in the picture below? I’m waving — can you see me? (Hint: I’m in red) :)
Just because Ian had his for breakfast, there’s no need to limit your spoon bread intake to before noon. Indeed, we had so much (I experimented with a couple of different methods) that I got a bit creative and served it up for 3 meals in 1 day. A little overboard? Maybe. But both my Englishman and I enjoyed all 3 variations:
For breakfast, I topped it with fresh bananas, spiced nuts and some birch syrup (a less-sweet alternative to maple). The eggs in the bread and the nuts on top make for a protein-packed start to an Outlander day and keep you going until noon.
For lunch, I shredded the last of the pulled pork from last night’s dinner, then added some cheese, tomato and green onion. The light, cornbread-style base makes the perfect blank canvas for leftovers. Here at home I served it with a small salad, but I guarantee that if you were to pop this, all by itself, in the office kitchen’s toaster oven for 2 minutes, you’ll be fighting off your workmates with a fork.
And finally, dinner was an Italian affair. I treated the spoon bread much like I would a dish of polenta, topping it with caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, a few chopped fennel fronds and parmesan cheese. I paired it with some grilled veggies for a simple dinner — chicken breast would be nice too.
What will you serve with your spoon bread?
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
A wonderfully light, almost creamy, cornbread/polenta/soufflé cross that is delicious morning, noon & night.
- Cornmeal – ¾ Cup
- Sugar – 2 tsp
- Baking Soda – 1½ tsp
- Salt – ¼ tsp
- Boiling Water – ¾ Cup
- Butter – 1 Tble
- Milk – ¾ Cup
- Eggs, beaten – 2
- Lemon Juice – 1 tsp
Preheat oven to 375° F.
In a bowl combine the cornmeal, sugar, baking soda and salt. Drop the butter into the boiling water. When it has almost completely melted, add to the cornmeal mixture and beat well for 2 minutes to combine.
Add the milk, beaten eggs and lemon juice, beat well for another 2 minutes, then set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, butter a 9” pie plate or (4) 8oz ramekins.
Stir the mixture well, then ladle into the prepared pie plate or ramekins, leaving about 1/4″ at the top to prevent spillovers. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the centre has set.
Serve hot, with butter and honey or anything else your mind can conjure up!
Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)
- A hand mixer on low makes for easy mixing, and will incorporate a little extra air into your spoon bread, resulting in an even lighter texture.
- The spoon bread will puff in the oven, but it is normal for it to fall again once it’s out.
- Will keep covered, on the counter, until the next day. Reheat before serving.