I had never eaten a lot of cornbread until I met my husband, and joined his family in the Midwest. Rob’s mum was brought up in a small town in Missouri, eating a Southern-inspired diet of fried chicken, potatoes, green beans, and cornbread. So I looked to her for the perfect recipe. I quickly became addicted to cornbread in every incantation. She was a wonderful Southern cook, and was well known for her delicious recipes. I had never cooked Southern food, and having been Macrobiotic, and, as she so eloquently put it, “one of those healthy freaks” for so many years, eating this cornbread gave my body quite a jolt! I didn’t realize there was so much wheat flour, sugar and butter in it. Why was it called “corn bread”? It was not long before my body revolted. I was tired, bloated and nauseous. But I didn’t want to give up my new love! So I “suffered” in silence, and continued my ill-fated love affair.
Unfortunately my cooking days with my mother-in-law were short lived, as she succumbed to cancer and was too weak to cook. She was put on a restricted diet, that, low and behold, closely resembled my diet that she had ridiculed! Whilst cooking some of the family meals, I quickly discovered that, just as my body rejected her cooking, her spirit rejected mine! She would take one look at the table every night, and with her hilarious wit, would bow her head and say, “Thank you for my free meal” (AKA “free of meat, free of dairy, free of fat, and free of freakin taste”), and would politely slide the food from one side of her plate to the other like an anorexic at a state dinner.
I would sheepishly ask, “Mom, is the food really that bad?" She would warmly grab my hand, cock her head, and with a wink in her eye, reply, “It has POtential”. I knew exactly what that meant. “Honey, I love your efforts, but it sucks”. This humorous honesty extended outside of the kitchen. When I took golf lessons to surprise Rob, she came out to the driving range to inspect my golf swing prior to my eagerly anticipated golfing debut. As I clumsily swung at the ball, and it quickly flew into a nearby tree I skulked back to the bench where she was picking at her “shitty salad” to get the verdict. She looked up at me, and as she sucked in her wilted lettuce leaf as if it were an arsenic stick and slurped on her ice tea she delivered a simple, “Well, You have PO-tential”. We both burst out laughing, and I never picked up a golf club again.
It has been over 5 years since Darlane passed away, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my potential! Some time ago, I found her beloved cornbread recipe collection in her kitchen, exactly where she had left it. Most of the recipes gloriously handwritten on little scraps of paper. I came across this pumpkin cornbread recipe. Being a pumpkin addict, I thought this recipe would lend itself well to adaptation. Well It did! The pumpkin gives the gluten free flours a moisture and spring, and the lemon juice and spices lift the mix. My first go at this gluten free cornbread was a triumph, and I haven't changed anything since. Maybe Darlane was making sure I reached my potential this time! This pumpkin bread is also dairy free, soy free, nut free and refined sugar free.
I like to serve this pumpkin bread right out of the oven, and put raw almond butter or vegan butter on it. This is when the texture is moist and springy, and most resembles regular wheat bread. For those gluten free desperates (me) who will seize any opportunity to taste something resembling moist light bread -- this is your moment! This gluten free cornbread is a fantastic snack. It is wonderful with a hearty soup or as a side accompaniment to a salad. It also serves as a delicious sweet treat with a cup of herbal tea. This pumpkin bread will keep for a few days in the fridge, but will get firmer and a little more dense like all gluten free breads. Rob likes to eat it cold like this -- like a sweet guilt free block. I prefer the greedy “scoff straight out of the oven” approach. As they say, "whatever floats your boat."
Darlane, I am going to go out on a limb, and say, “this bread has exceeded its potential”!
I miss you......