Saturday, September 06, 2008

Family Stories, Family Recipes ~ Nancy's Cornbread

My mother and I didn’t get along for much of my early life. It was more than a mother/daughter thing. An only child, I saw my mother as overly critical. She tried to improve me. She didn’t accept me for myself.

“You must fire your parents as parents,” the family therapist told my group in the early eighties.

I was thirty-one-years-old and absorbing the new way of being that group therapy opened for me. I didn’t know how to “fire my parents,” but being a writer, I eventually wrote them a letter.

My dad took it hard. My mother didn’t. Gradually, I came to understand my mother’s motivation. She wanted me to be the best I could be, and pushing me was her way to do it. I heard her “encouragement” as “nagging.” She was a product of The Depression and WWII. She wasn’t versed on the pop psychology of the day.

Through group therapy I gained insight into my motivation. As a child, I had learned subconsciously that my purpose was to “make my mother happy.” I gave it up. I grew up. As a result, she quit her “frantic mothering.” She learned I was able to guide my own life.

When she died, my mother and I were friends. When I think of her now, the old acrimony and teenage conflict is a blur. I think about how she showed her love to me and my children—always “doing,” seldom with a hug or a kiss.

Nancy’s cornbread recipe is a memory from my childhood and early adult years—country cooked meals, family and fellowship. I hope you enjoy the symbol of my mother’s love for her family.

From my mother’s handwritten recipe—

#1 Self-rising corn meal

#2 Non-self-rising corn meal

1 egg

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup buttermilk

Self-rising corn meal

¾ t. salt

¼ t. baking soda

Corn meal

It’s important to have a hot pan and hot grease. My mother used an iron skillet or iron cornbread pans shaped like corn.

Combine the ingredients and then add the corn meal last. It’s important that the batter not be thicker than thick cake dough.

“Bread isn’t good if too much meal is used.”

Cook at 450° or hot oven until brown.

Jan Scarbrough

Romance Novelist

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