Best Cornbread Recipe and GMOs

A conversation in my house 2 days ago:

Pam: I think I’ll make chili and cornbread for tonight.

Dan: You know our deal – you make it, I’ll eat it!

Pam: I just really want cornbread. I love cornbread. I mean I really love cornbread!

I do. And I thought this would be the perfect time to bring up a subject I’ve been avoiding with you. Since the recipe I want to share with you today includes one of the foods that may be genetically modified unless you buy organic, I want to get this unpleasant topic over with.

I want this blog to be a place where we can all be refreshed, encouraged and enlightened. Regarding the enlightened aspect, there’s a very unpleasant topic I just want to make sure you are informed about that might alter your choices when you go food shopping.

What are genetically modified foods? Genetically modified foods are foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMOs have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques. (Wikipedia) The concern is, obviously, that these foods may not be safe for human consumption. Most of the processed food that we can buy in the store has at least one genetically modified ingredient in it.

If you want more information about what that means, a quick internet search will bring up more than enough information for you. Some of the most reputable sites include Appetite for Profit and Food Safety News. There is a very (very!) thorough article covering controversies regarding GMOs on Wikipedia here.

And if you’d rather watch a short video on this topic:

Powerful, huh? And I’m glad she ended it with hope.

We have the ability to effect remarkable change because each and every single one of you has talents and attributes that you are uniquely good at. And when you leverage that with something that you are passionate about, you can effect remarkable change in the health of your family, in the health of your companies, and in the health of our country.” Robyn O’Brien

May I suggest something? If you have a smart phone, listen to her TED talk on your way to work. Or while you take a walk. Or when you’re on your exercise bike (like I did this morning).

Cornmeal. Corn bread. Corn syrup. Cornstarch. Corn chips. Tortilla chips. Corn tortillas. Tacos. Ahh!

Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). According to industry, up to 95% of sugar beets are now GE. It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients. (Center for Food Safety)

A Non-GMO Shopper’s Guide, as well as a plethora of information, is available at the Center for Food Safety’s website.

How can all this be simplified?

I believe wisdom says to stay away from processed foods as much as possible and buy organic when you can. Progress, not perfection. 🙂

This is, in my opinion, the best recipe for basic cornbread. The fat content has been reduced from the original recipe, it can be all whole grain, and options for both gluten free and vegan are provided in parentheses.

Best Cornbread

Ingredients:

1 cup organic cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour (or 3/4 cup brown rice flour + 1/4 cup potato starch)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk (dairy and almond both work)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/4 cup light olive or melted coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg (or 1 tablespoon milled flaxseed soaked in 3 tablespoons water)

Instructions:

1. Grease 9″ square or round baking pan. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Mix dry ingredients together in medium bowl.

3. Mix wet ingredients together in separate bowl.

4. Add wet to dry stirring until just mixed.

5. Scrape out into prepared pan.

6. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes until a beautiful golden brown.

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I’ve been asked if there is a way to print out a recipe. I’m going to try this print option below. If this doesn’t work for you, let me know and  I’ll explore other options.

Pumpkin Oat Scones with Cranberries and Pecans

If you would like to receive this blog directly to your email, you’re welcome to enter your email address as directed on the right. Coming soon – homemade butternut squash soup, chocolate chip banana circles, and i-never-thought-it-could-taste-so-good tofu!

Lately, I’ve been wanting to bake with apples or pumpkin. Pumpkin won. 🙂

I’ve been making these scones for many years. The original recipe came from this cookbook published in 1979. Wow – I was single then and not even dating my future husband! I’ve made these with raisins, apples and blueberries, but this time I worked pumpkin, cranberries and toasted pecans into them. Mmmm…

I like the uniqueness of scones. When I eat a scone, I have certain expectations. I want it to be rich and a bit crumbly, not dense. I want to feel the complex texture – the bits of oats, nuts and fruit that I put into it. I don’t want it to be smooth like a biscuit that’s more of a side item. A go-with. A scone is the main fare! It should look earthy. Wholesome. Hearty. And it shouldn’t be too sweet, like a dessert. Just slightly sweet, like I’m eating one of the original scones from Ireland of old where flour and sugar were precious commodities. These scones are whole grain, can be gluten free, and celebrate the coming of Fall!

The ingredients in this are like those in all of my recipes – examined for nutritional content and processed as little as possible. Recipes abound that are rich and sweet that do not do your body one bit of good! I can’t, in good conscience, give you those.

I feel a strong sense of responsibility to give you what will nourish your body  toward good health. Some people really have no idea that nutrition is a science, proven to affect health. Food intolerance, too much protein, too many processed foods, too much bad fat and sugar, too few nutrients – all of these can cause health issues that people go to the doctor for, and then are put on medication. For instance, the CDC estimates that 2.7 million children in the U.S. are currently taking medication for ADHD. Many of these children can be treated by a high-nutrient diet and avoid the side effects of medication.

If you have parents who were aware of the benefits of whole natural foods and passed that on to you, be grateful for it! That’s where I’m blessed – my mom is a retired registered nurse and learned early  about nutrition. She actually introduced me to it when I was a teenager, and my interest in it stuck. Thanks, Mom!

We can learn and affect the next generation. 🙂 That’s what I want to do. How about you?

So as far as I can know, the recipes I use for my family combine good flavor, natural ingredients, and solid nutrition. This is what I offer to you!

On to the scones…

You may remember from here that I am new to a gluten-free diet, which I became committed to after experiencing relief from my long term joint pain. I’m experimenting with all of my old recipes, adjusting them to fit my new nutritional focus. I keep a jar of gluten free flour mix ready in my pantry for when I want to bake. I learned from the master, Shauna James Ahern, the Gluten-Free Girl (this page will give you all the details), how to make a whole grain flour blend. Below is the recipe I used for my GF flour mix that I used in these scones. I’ve written the scone recipe as a regular recipe that anyone can use – just know that for the gluten-free version, you are to substitute GF oats (if you’re extremely sensitive to gluten) and GF flour mix for the whole wheat or white flour.

GF Flour Mix:

18 ounces brown rice flour

7 ounces millet flour

10 ounces potato starch

Instructions:

Whisk or sift all ingredients together till thoroughly combined. Store in mason jar in refrigerator.

Pumpkin Oat Scones with Cranberries and Pecans

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

When preheated, toast 1/3 cup pecans for 3-4 minutes. No more! They burn easily. (I only burned one batch this time.)

Dry ingredients:

1 1/4 c oats (GF if necessary)

1 1/2 c whole wheat flour (or GF flour mix)

1 T baking powder

1/2 t cream of tartar

1/2 t salt

2 t cinnamon

1 t ginger

1/2 t allspice

1/4 t nutmeg

1/3 c toasted pecans, broken with fingers

1 T milled flaxseed or chia seeds (optional)

1/3 c dried cranberries, fruit-juice sweetened

Wet ingredients:

6 T melted butter, Earth Balance or extra virgin coconut oil

1/3 c pure maple syrup

1/4 c canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 egg

Instructions:

1. Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl.

2. Whisk wet ingredients together in small bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry. Mix with rubber scraper until moistened.

You can form scones in different ways. One was is to turn dough out onto floured pastry board. Form a log, pat down into a rectangle, then cut into about 12 triangles.

Alternately, you could turn it out onto floured pastry board, pat into one or two circles, then cut into 8 “pie wedge” type triangles, separating slightly.

OR you could just drop 8-12 spoonfuls of dough directly onto oiled baking sheet just like drop biscuits. (see “drop” scones above)

Using pancake turner, move to oiled baking sheet. For a nice touch and some added sweetness, you could paint these with milk and then sprinkle the tops with raw sugar. I did that on some of these in the pictures. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on size. Enjoy the fragrance permeating your house. Candle businesses spend a fortune trying to fabricate what you’re creating with natural ingredients! 🙂

Remove from pan immediately. As with most baked goods, they are best while still warm (or briefly warmed up). Brew hot drink of your choice. Put feet up. Enjoy!

Basic Crustless Quiche

I was invited to have lunch with a friend around 30 years ago (Can it be?!), and she served this quiche.  She gave me her recipe, I changed it to eliminate the crust, and I have made it many, many times since then. It makes a great entrée for brunch or dinner and is a well-received dish to bring to a group meeting or potluck supper. I occasionally bring one to our morning ladies Bible study.

This quiche can be made with or without meat. It can be made gluten-free or with wheat flour. The filling can be poured into a pie crust, but it does perfectly well without one. I will give you the basic recipe as well as many options – be creative! Choose something different each time using the basic structure found here.

Basic Crustless Quiche (GF version)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Custard ingredients:

4 eggs, preferably farm-fresh organic

1 1/2 c organic 2% milk

2 T GF millet flour

1 T arrowroot

1/2 t salt

1/4 t dry mustard

Few scrapes of nutmeg

1/2 t dried herbs or 2 t fresh (about 1 t each fresh chopped rosemary and sage)

Filling:

1-1 1/2 c grated cheese (I used half grass-fed cheddar and half monterey jack)

1 small to medium onion, chopped and sautéed

Approx. 2 cups vegetables, lightly steamed or sautéed, and patted dry (I used 1 1/2 yellow zucchini and 1/2 bunch kale)

1/2 cup meat, if desired

Some notes about ingredients you may choose to use:

1. Vegetables – Broccoli, cauliflower – slice thin, lightly steam. Frozen spinach or kale – squeeze dry. Fresh greens – pull leaves off tough ribs, wash, shake off water, steam in covered pan until reduced to about 1-1/2 cups worth. Zucchini, asparagus – sliced or chopped and lightly sautéed. Tomatoes – chopped and drained a bit on a paper towel. Fresh sweet peppers – no need to saute. Frozen organic corn – no need to cook first. Potato – sliced and lightly steamed.

2. Cheese – Swiss, cheddar, monterey jack, mozzarella, gouda, havarti – just grate on large-hole side of box grater. One kind or combination of a few. Low-fat is okay. Just don’t use romano or parmesan cheese as your only cheese. You may, however, add a few tablespoons for flavor. Brie is wonderful!

3. Onion – after chopping, you may saute, but you don’t have to.

4. Milk – Two percent works well. One percent’s okay, too. And I’m sure whole milk would be wonderful!

5. Herbs – dill weed, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, summer savory, etc.

Instructions:

1. Blend custard ingredients (except for fresh herbs, if using) in blender or place in bowl and blend with stick blender. Set aside while making filling.

2. Oil pie pan. Place it on a foil-covered baking sheet.

3. Cover bottom of pie pan with sliced, sautéed zucchini. Sprinkle chopped onion evenly over zucchini.

4. Distribute steamed kale over onion layer. Sprinkle shredded cheeses (and meat if using) over kale .

5. Blend custard again for a few seconds. Stir in chopped rosemary and sage. Pour over fillings in pan.

7. Very carefully, place baking sheet with filled pie pan on center shelf of oven. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 300 degrees 30 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out without any custard sticking to it. Let sit 10 minutes to settle before serving.

Some great combinations:

Asparagus and Swiss.

Corn, peppers, and black beans with cheddar/monterey mix.

Spinach, havarti, and nitrate-free bacon.

Mozzarella and tomato with basil.

Broccoli, potato and cheddar.

What combinations can you think of?

Zucchini and Tomato Scramble with Goat Cheese

I don’t know about you, but my hungriest time of the week is when I get out of church. I’m so hungry by that point, I can’t wait to get home! Hopefully, we have leftovers, but if not, I’ll throw something together really quick.

This morning after church, I bought some farm fresh eggs from a farmer’s market around the corner. Laid by chickens that graze in the sunshine on grass, not so-called “free range” that could be raised on cement or dirt (you have to ask to be sure of this!). So I took a few of those, and this is what I did with them. Quick and easy.

By the way, consider the health benefits of grass-fed meats, dairy and eggs. Concerning eggs alone, “When chickens are housed indoors and deprived of greens, their meat and eggs also become artificially low in omega-3s. Eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 10 times more omega-3s than eggs from factory hens.” Also, “Eggs from hens raised outdoors on pasture have from three to six times more chickensvitamin D than eggs from hens raised in confinement.”

Really, this is only the beginning of the health benefits of food raised this way, as opposed to CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) raised products. If you have any  questions about this, this is a great site loaded with information taken from actual studies done on these products.

For the record, we don’t eat much in the way of meat or cheese. And when we do, I try  to only buy organic, free-range and grass-fed. Which is partly why we don’t eat much of it, because it’s expensive!

Zucchini and Tomato Scramble with Goat Cheese

Serves 2

1 T extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil

1 yellow zucchini, diced

1 green zucchini, diced

1/2 sweet onion, sliced top to bottom, then halved

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium fresh tomato, diced

2-4 T goat cheese, crumbled (or fresh mozzarella, diced)

4 large fresh basil leaves, chopped

4 eggs, farm fresh organic, if possible

salt and pepper

grated Romano cheese, if desired

1. Have the tomato, goat cheese and basil prepared and ready to be tossed in at the  last minute.

I used a Brandywine tomato from our garden, which doesn’t have many seeds. If your tomato has a lot of seeds, you might want to cut it in half horizontally and slide the seeds out with your finger before you dice up the tomato.

Also, I had to use mozzarella because I was out of goat cheese, and it’s good, but the goat cheese definitely brings it up a notch!

2. Break eggs into a bowl and whisk with salt and pepper. Melt a little butter in a non-stick pan. I like my scrambled eggs creamy, so I cook them on medium-low heat until done but still a bit wet, stirring frequently with silicone rubber scraper.

3. While eggs are slowly cooking, in large hot frying pan, saute zucchini, onion and garlic just until crisp-tender. Turn off heat.

4. Immediately, add fresh tomato and basil to other veggies in pan and toss gently.

5. Finally, add goat cheese crumbles and finished scrambled eggs, and toss gently again.

6. Taste, turn into serving bowl, then add sprinkling of grated romano on top if desired.