Friday, March 28, 2014

Maple event and a very good cornbread recipe

It's that time of the year! Maple syrup season! Sugar shacks! Maple toffee on snow! Hearty breakfasts with beans, bacon, "oreilles de christ", eggs, potatoes, bread, butter and pitchers of maple syrup! :) I'm gaining weight just typing this.

The town I live in now is Aylmer. It's actually amalgamated with Gatineau but people still go by the old name. They're having an event on rue Principale (conveniently close to our house), which will allow many food shops, bakers, delis, pubs and restaurants in the old Aylmer, to participate to a sort of sugar shack festival. It is the first one they organized (we could say it's experimental) but I bet it will become more and more popular in the future!

In my case, I plan on trying maple sausages from the saucissier William J. Walter and some maple beer from Bistro L'Autre Oeil. Those guys will also offer the fun activity of sampling maple toffee on snow. We've been talking about having a sugar shack theme breakfast and I believe that Chorizo et Chèvre Noire (a gourmet food shop), will play on that. They will also serve pea soup, maple toffee on snow, maple sausages on the bbq, maple smoothies and maple tartlets. Le Bostaurus will do the same with a brunch in the sugar shack style. They might have more info on their facebook page.  L'Aubergiste, a new exciting restaurant that I didn't get a chance to try yet, will have a table d'hôte on the same theme. Then we have more restaurants, bistro, bakers, chocolaterie, tea shop, coffee shop and more! So much to choose from! So little time!

We have 2 young girls who barely recovered from a cold and gastro so I'll be lucky if we can have fun with 1 or 2 places. At the most it will be a walk and fresh air in the neighbourhood. There is more info here from our town's paper Bulletin d'Aylmer. Hope you read French! :) The event is very bilingual (most people are, around here). It's happening on the 29th and 30th of this month. If you're close enough, you should come!

Now for the Cornbread!


As I was typing earlier and thinking of my next post, hunger took over. I could have had a toast, grilled cheese or cookies but I was craving cornbread of all things. I'm not sure why, I just did. So with a full house gone to bed (my partner in crime was fried from sick kids and crashed early), I cranked the oven to 425˚F and whipped up my batter. It is a fast, simple and easy recipe from The Fannie Farmer cookbook. I swear by this book a lot in this house! I recommend it and the same goes for the cornbread recipe. I often cheat and change recipes in my own stubborn way but this one, I leave alone and follow by the book.

This is exotic to me. I never grew up with cornbread and had my first sample about 10 yrs ago when I went through a Southern food obsession after reading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.  Never read that on an empty stomach by the way. It's torture! Especially late at night with no store open or place to order from! I was more than pleased and excited when I realized that my Fannie Farmer Cookbook had many of the recipes mentioned and more! I sampled what I could and the cornbread was a nice surprise. It's not too sweet, a little salty, crispy on the outside with a mellow flavoured coarse crumb. It goes really well with butter and honey (and coffee), or scrambled eggs with ham and some strongly seasoned tomatoes that got quickly fried in butter as a great side (in my house), and with chili obviously! Now I will add to the list: Butter and maple syrup!! OMG try it!!!

Best midnight snack ever!

When the corn bread was done, I cut a slice while still hot. I then smeared half salted butter on it and watched it melt. I was going to pour honey next but suddenly changed my mind. On a whim, I opened the fridge and grabbed the jar of maple syrup. I poured a bit on the bite I was going to take. It was dripping generously on the counter. I didn't care, I was curious about the new combo and rushed it in my mouth to taste. Then!!! *ANGEL VOICES* Oh where was this all my life!? The hint of bacon goodness from the fresh, really hot cornbread seasoned with a tinge of salt from the melted butter, mingling happily with the sweet, sticky, really cold maple syrup elixir! It was so good I did it again but this time I closed my eyes and enjoyed the round, sweet and salty flavours. The hot with the cold. The crispy, crumbly with the wet, runny and smooth... It was just heavenly. I had 3 slices! And a plate because you know, it was getting messy.

Added more butter and maple syrup goodness for the photo. And a plate!
Please forgive the photos. They were taken late at night with bad artificial lighting. I tinkered with the brightness and things got a little saturated but you get the picture! ;)

Here is the recipe with a description (not my words) and the amount it should give in squares. I guess I didn't follow by the book. I always use my 9 inch cast iron pan plus I cut wedges and get 12 generous slices. I suppose I could cut smaller and get 16 but what is the fun in that?

You decide and try it.

Corn bread 

Recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal (I used fine cornmeal #400)
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg, well beaten
2 tablespoons melted shortening or bacon fat (I used the bacon fat plus more for greasing the pan)

Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Grease an 8-inch square cake pan (or in my case, a cast iron pan). Mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk, egg, and shortening or bacon fat and blend well. Spoon into the pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cool and cut in squares.

Personal note here: Butter or shortening is fine but BACON FAT is the BOMB! It is worth the flavourful experience. You don't eat that everyday do you? Try it! ;)

Leave a comment! Tell me what you think.


  1. I wondered why there was maple syrup on the counter this morning... ;)

    1. It was so good! I cleaned the mess though. Did you try it?

  2. This is how we always eat it, and call it "Johnny Cake". My Dad taught me how to make it. And I use my 10" cast iron pan and only get 8 slices? LOL! ;)

    1. I had to google that. Really interesting and 8 slices sounds right! When we have chili we go for that format too! I re-measured my pan and I guess it's more a 10" than a 9... Depending on if you measure the top or the bottom? I guess I always relied on the size of my cakes! :)

  3. so trying to send comment from my pc instead of my iPhone .. So hope this works

  4. omg I see your entry on your blog about your big pink couch ..D/C kids are napping and I am here with my coffee and iPhone so excited to read your blog ... As I tap to read my phone rings 3 times I get text four times and message threw messenger 5 times .. getting so frustrated because I get interrupted every time , I return to read finally no interruptions and enjoyed every second of your entry to your pink couch ...Now I am going to tell you what I think about your beautiful pink couch ... It has a purpose and it to serve you well !!!! your pink couch is meant to be in your home . I as your friend and neighbor I so enjoy your home so bright colorful and inviting and I must add artistic and full of love . I am sure that I am not the only one who feels this way when they enter your home .Thank you so much for finally taking the leap to get your blog up and running now looking forward to reading your Maple entry .... Oh and the Rug by all means leave it there love it ... it meant to be with your beautiful pink couch ... :)

  5. Mary-ann you warm my heart! :) Thank you. The pink couch area is the only clean inviting one in the house right now. The rest of the house looks like a tornado barged in. I was out of it all February then we got busy and then sick, sick, sick. Plus this blog distracted me big time! ;) Slowly, slowly trying to put it back together but first we are off to the maple event on rue Principale! Hoping to get a bit of maple toffee on snow, some other treats and sausage! Oh and maple beer at L'Autre Oeil but I'm pushing my luck! ;)