I decided to reward myself after grading all my history finals AND putting in the herb garden with a treat I haven't had in years: corn fritters. I first encountered them at the Heart of Illinois Fair in Peoria, Illinois. There was a church group that had a stand selling corn fritters, made fresh before your eyes, and they were exquisite. If you don't know what corn fritters are, they are fried bits of batter (very similar to an eggy waffle batter) with corn kernals mixed in. They are usually rolled in granulated or powdered sugar and served warm.
Jeremy is my kind of cookbook writer: witty, casual, slightly irreverent without being sarcastic, and passionate about his subject. Plus, he's really done his homework: his first chapter is titled "A Pithy and Perfunctory History of Cornbread in these United States," and he starts with "7,000 years ago, some mopey bloke was slumping by his fire somewhere in the highlands of Mexico" and takes you all the way through Columbus, the failed Roanoke Colony, Huck Finn, Thoreau, American cookbooks of the 1700's and 1800's, cornbread during the two world wars and the Jiffy box. Whew!
The book has brief but useful sections on ingredients and equipment, but it's the recipes that will dazzle and eventually entice you to fire up the oven and get out a cast iron skillet: Sweet Cornbread, Ozark Cornbread, Gem and Pearl Breakfast Muffins, Gold Nugget Popovers, Velvet Spoonbread (!), Popcorn Focaccia (!!), Choco-Corno-Espresso-Almondo Biscotti (!!!) Uncluttered pages and clear, detailed instructions make this a book worth buying and using regularly.
Mmmmmmm . . .