by Tara Davis

Today I won’t be waxing philosophical over the past or coming year, or pondering resolutions.  No, today I have one thing on my mind.   


The historical component has been a dietary staple, and often major sustenance for many cultures across centuries.  My favorite food, it wears many faces and has long been the topic of great debate.

Whether Italian, Spanish or Anerican, polenta, pozole, masa harina, hominy or maize, some of the world’s humblest and some of its most exotic dishes are, at their core, simply corn.

Each time we sit down with its earthen delights,  we bunk time, space, class and race to share an experience begun here by the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Iroquois and other native American tribes.

The question drags on- which cornbread recipe, exactly, is best?  Yellow or white meal? Should you add flour? How many eggs?  Is sugar a necessity or completely taboo?

Over the years I have come to appreciate all kinds of cornbread, but my family’s classic, and the version that holds my heart is no frills.  I love it on it’s own, but it performs best as a vehicle for all my other favorites, from chili to red beans. No eggs, flour, sugar.  No extras stirred in to the batter. It is nearer to hot water bread than the fluffy, photogenic sweetness that graces most cookbooks and food magazines.

As with most food, well executed simplicity is absolutely best.

Below I include a couple of other great takes on January 1 dishes.

Whether you use my recipe or your own, it’s the perfect accompaniment to your New Year’s Day meal.

Bon appetit.

The recipes-

Choctaw Griddle cakes:

Pour 1.5 cups boiling water over 1.3 cups cornmeal and mix well, then let cool slightly, about 10 minutes

Add 1 tbsp melted butter, 3/4 cup milk, and 2 eggs, mix thoroughly.

Stir 2/3 cup flour, 1 tsp salt and 3 tsp baking powder into the cornmeal mixture quickly.

Drop by spoonfuls in a hot skillet. Brown on both sides.

My cornbread:

Mix 1.5 cups white cornmeal, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 cups milk. Batter should be loose. Add milk if too thick. Pour into preheated, well oiled skillet.   Bake at 375 degrees 30- 40 minutes, until golden brown.

Black eyed peas:

Cover 1lb dried black eyed peas in water and soak over night. Drain. Place in a large pot with 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp garlic, 2 slices bacon. Cover with water and boil 20 minutes, or until tender.

Skillet Cabbage:

Roughly shred 1 head cabbage. Spread onto an oiled sheet tray. Toss with salt, pepper and whole garlic. Bake at 400 degrees 10 minutes, or until charred on the bottom. Toss and repeat to char the other side.

Have a Happy New Year and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions or comments at (228)224-6781 or