Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bean soup and Johnny cake....

Have you ever noticed that the simple, homestyle meals are the ones that everybody remembers best when they reminisce about home cooking?  We've had lots of people at our table and whenever I make a basic, traditional family recipe, it's always a hit.  Beans and Johnny cake would come under this recipe category.  I ate it at home regularly as a child, and the tradition continued in my own home.  Just the other day my daughter called.  She had left-over ham and wanted to make bean soup!  Another generation carries on with homestyle recipes. 

Not until I read the Joy of Cooking many years ago, did I realize that there was a recipe for Senate Bean Soup which is served every day at the Senate Restaurant.  At the request of a couple senators back in 1903, the tradition of serving bean soup had begun and still remains.  I suppose those men had a hankerin' for their wives' home cooking.  Common as it is, bean soup is comfort food, the food that says "home."

 I suppose everybody has their version of "Johnny cake" but ours is just a simple cornbread made in a cast iron skillet.  I did a little research a long while back and Johnny cake might have been a version of what was once called journey cake.  It could be whipped up easily while on a journey because the ingredients were basic.  Cornmeal, water, salt.  Likely it was not as delicious as our version of cornbread, but if you had a little molasses or honey to drizzle over it, I'm sure it tasted mighty good on the wagon trail.  

Skillet Cornbread
1 c. flour
1 c. cornmeal
3 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. melted butter or oil
1 egg
1 c. sour milk or butter milk*

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
While you prepare the batter, grease a medium sized cast iron skillet on the stovetop on medium heat.  
Combine all ingredients together in a bowl.
Pour into hot skillet and bake for about 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

* Make sour milk by adding a tsp. of vinegar to milk.

There are only thirty head of ewes in the barn tonight.  We think we will be finished lambing by early next week.  It's a good thing too because I'm getting tired of my night shift.  I took a two hour nap this afternoon before walking up to the Big Shed.  It was 43 beautiful degrees today.  Oh, for the love of warmth!  

It was a joy to come in the house after evening chores to a crock pot of hot bean soup.  I had a bowl and a half and two helpings of cornbread with butter and honey.  MmmMmmm.


  1. Ooooh, yum! Nothing better than cornbread with bean soup in the middle of a long cold winter!

  2. Oye...the bean soup is calling my name and Dear has been talking about making skillet cornbread! Blessings!

  3. Oh boy, I can't imagine a better comfort food than this... and even better when the weather is so cold out. Mmmm, now I know what my family will be having for supper this weekend. Thanks!

  4. A good day! We had soup tonight too and birthday cake for my hubbie! I'm sure you deserved that nap, good for you! :D

  5. The soup is beautiful. I've never made a good bean soup. Can I have the recipe? It's snowing again today and I have to drive off to parent/teacher conferences for the duration of the day. I like meeting with parents though and we always go out for lunch. Do know that I'm praying for you, Jody. I know you are tired and I'm praying for sweet and soothing rest.

  6. I've neer made bean soup but it sounds so comforting on a chilly winter day! I love cornbread - and feel very inspired to make some this weekend!

    You'll be glad for a full night's sleep when your lambing is done.



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