Cooking freeze dried style

Lots of things are going on today, the one getting the most news coverage is the president of the US being sworn in today, I read recently that the inauguration ball was going to be scaled down in respect of the bad economy and unemployment numbers being high, then today I read that it’s going to cost over 300 million… THAT’S CUTTING BACK? So, in light of this, today I’ll write about something really important, cooking and eating! A few weeks ago, we were snowed in, fortunately we had enough provisions to get us through.

We were stuck in for about a week, not terrible, but here in far west Texas, we are not set up for snow that ends up being a foot deep, we are used to 2-3 inches, looks pretty for a day or two then melts away. Actually it wasn’t so much the snow that was keeping us in, it was when that 1 foot of snow began to melt that it created very slick, mushy, muddy roads on our unpaved mountain roads, on the flats that’s not a big deal, but combine deep, slick mud with major hills and a truck with 2 wheel drive (1 wheel drive is more accurate), and I couldn’t get out. My hubby and his friends used to go “mudding”, I don’t see what could have been so fun about that, but at least it was good “clean” fun :)

So we stayed home and cooked and ate, cooked and ate, there wasn’t much else to do. One of the days I decided I wanted a pot of pinto beans, and what goes better with pintos than cornbread! I had started the pintos in my pressure cooker, I love that kitchen device! It cooks fast, I usually start my beans the day before by cleaning them and soaking them overnight, this time I hadn’t done that, so I cleaned then, put them in the pressure cooker, added water and brought them up to pressure. I turned off the heat and allowed them to depressurize on their own, drained them then put them back in the pressure cooker, added 1 can of French onion soup and 1 can of beef stock, a dash of hot chili powder, a dash of mild chili powder, some ground pepper, some oil, I added enough water to bring it up over the beans and started it again. I cook the beans for about 15 minutes once they come up to pressure, I’m at high altitude, at lower altitude you would cook them for less time, refer to the instructions that came with your pressure cooker or do a search for cooking time charts for pressure cookers.

OK, so with the beans going, I looked around for some cornmeal, you can’t make cornbread without cornmeal. There was none to be found, undaunted I looked around for something to substitute for the cornmeal, I even eyeballed a bag of corn chips and a bag of corn masa. I didn’t have popcorn either, I have ground popcorn to make cornmeal for cornbread before, it makes a dense cornbread, but still nice.

Then I remembered I had a can of freeze dried corn, or at least I hoped it was freeze dried, if it was just dried corn, I would be out of luck, I no longer have a grinder, it had been loaned to me, though I would have considered using a coffee grinder. Turned out it was freeze dried, the reason it was better is because freeze dried would be much easier to grind or crush, you can crush it between your fingers. I measured out about a cup and a quarter of corn, put it in a plastic bag and used a rolling pin to crush it, it crushed nicely and easily, I left some bigger pieces but for the most part, it was finely crushed. I was just informed by hubby that he would prefer having all the pieces crushed, he’s not a big corn fan, though he likes cornbread, he doesn’t like finding pieces of un-crushed corn in his cornbread… I did like it, so each to his own.

That made about a cup of cornmeal, which is exactly what I needed at the time. So I made the cornbread, it turned out wonderful! Light, sweet, and tasty. The only thing I’ll do differently next time is I’ll add sugar, I like my cornbread on the sweet side, normally I would have added sugar but when I tasted the batter, it seems quite sweet, but once the cornbread was cooked it really did need that little extra sugar IMHO.

Here is the recipe:
1 1/4 cup freeze dried corn (once crushed it makes about 1 cup)
1 cup white flour
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking powder

1 egg (beaten)
1/3 cup oil (veg oil or butter)
1 to 1 1/4 cup milk (regular milk or buttermilk, enough to make a loose batter)

I crushed the freeze dried corn in a baggie and ended up with about a cup of cornmeal, mix the dry ingredients together, then add the wet ingredients, I usually add a little more milk to make a wetter looser batter, stir until mixed, don’t over mix, pour into a greased pan (9 inch cake pan works great), put in a preheated 350 degree F oven, cook for 20-25 minutes, it’s done when a cake tester comes out clean.

You can omit the sugar if you don’t like your cornbread sweet, you can add other things like grated cheese, chopped peppers, chili powder… make it your own. Right now my kitchen smells wonderful, the cornbread is about to come out of the oven.


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