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Making Cornbread

By Nan

August 20, 2007

All freshly ground grains taste much better, and corn is no exception. The natural oils and vitamins are at their peak of perfection. Flavors normally lost in processing give a rich and full bodied aroma. This is how I make fresh cornbread, and bake it in a 'Crock-Pot' or slow cooker. For everyday convenience, I use an electric powered mill to grind the grains, and mix the dough. That takes less than a half hour. Once in the slow cooker, I won't need to check it again for about 3 hours, so I can be off doing something else. When I don't have the convenience of commercial electric power, I can use one of my hand cranked grain mills.

If you are in the market to buy a grain mill, do not order one with stone burrs for grinding corn. Many steel burr mills will not accept the large kernels of corn either. I have found on line companies selling mills claiming that they will grind corn, while the manufacturer clearly says they will not. Be sure to double check with the actual manufacturer.

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Normally I adjust my recipes when I am cooking, depending on what I have on the shelf, and what I want. Cornbread will be mostly made of corn meal, but store bought corn breads are usually half wheat flour. This is because corn meal is gritty, and perhaps wheat flour is cheaper. One early Native American recipe uses equal amounts of dried squash or pumpkin with the corn meal. With fresh or canned pumpkin, I use about half as much as the dry corn meal. Applesauce works well in the same proportion too. Goat milk instead of hot water, and eggs can be used to enrich the bread into a more complete meal. In the recipe I made today, I simply added eggs and the rice, which I ground into flour, like the whole corn.

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Coarsely grind the corn first. Adjust the mill to a medium grind, and pass both the corn and rice through it. Set on fine, and put the grains through again. Add the eggs, and mix thoroughly. While beating, slowly add the warm water until a soft, but not quite liquid dough forms. Turn into a greased 1.5 quart Crock-Pot or slow cooker set on high heat. It will take nearly three hours to cook.