Growing up in the South somewhere along the line somebody is going to tag you with a nickname. Names like Tater Salad, Pork Chop, T-Bone or Stinky Pete. Once you have the nickname it stays with you for life. The nickname is a badge of honor, so much so that eventually the top of your checks on your account has your nickname sprawled over your address.
I grew up in the North. Nicknames aren’t as prevalent up around the Great Lakes, unless you are Italian and you become known as Fat Tony, Eddie Boy, Big Angelo or Stinky Pete.
So when I moved down South to the Panhandle in Florida I was a stranger in a strange land. There was a John Boy, Sweet Potater, and a Gigger. I gradually assimilated myself into the Southern easy going way of life, trying to blend in and ignoring comments about my accent. But I persevered, cooking, riding through the woods in a pick-up truck and eating fried food two or three times a day. Sometimes more. I even watched NASCAR every weekend. Thirty-five hillbillies going two-hundred miles an hour making left-hand turns for three hours. Almost as scary as rush hour on the expressway in downtown Chicago.
So after years of eating grits, greens, tomato gravy and crawfish boils I decided to try my hand at Southern cooking and maybe, just maybe I could become one of them.
I picked up a copy of Chile Pepper Magazine, did some playing around in the kitchen and submitted a recipe to the magazine’s “Gourmet Games” recipe contest in the August 2001 issue. I anxiously waited a few months for the results and guess what? I took third place. Southern living was at last mine.
Using only the finest Southern ingredients, here is the recipe.
Cast-iron Tupelo Honey Poblano Cornbread
1 Cup Hoover’s Corn Meal
½ Cup Martha White Self-rising Flour
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
Pinch Salt/Freshly Ground Black Pepper
½ Cup X-tra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 Egg, Beaten
¼ Cup Olive Oil
½ Cup Buttermilk
¼ Cup Poblano Pepper, Chopped
2 Tbs. Tupelo Honey
2 Tbs. Natural Lite Beer
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt and pepper. Mix in cheese.
Combine rest of ingredients in a separate bowl and pour the egg mixture into the sifted cornmeal. Beat at low-speed until combined.
Pour mixture evenly into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Let cool and slice.
Boy, you don’t know what it’s like now down here in Wewahitchka, Florida when I drive through town with people waving at me and hollering.
Or in the Dixie Dandy grocery and somebody stops me in the aisle. “Hey Cornbread! What’s for dinner tonight?”
Have a great day y’all.