Christmas time for rural folk traditionally became associated with “Hog killing.” Families slaughtered several hogs in cold of December to insure they’d have an abundance of food in the house during the holidays. The collective community event would start early in the morning, sometime around 10:00 am and last late into the evening. Historically, in parts of the south, seasonal workers in the logging, farming, cotton milling, and ice making industries participated in the strenuous work of butchering the hogs in exchange for parts of the meat for their service. Joyce White of Alabama remembers black workers would remove the skin and throw the white fat into cauldrons set on top a fire to make cooking lard. “Mama would cut up the skin into pieces and drop it into the hot oil to make crisp cracklings.” Her mother and the other women folk passed out the crackling to the workers, along with pans of “hot cornbread, roasted sweet potatoes, and a can of molasses” says White. This description of hog killing food traditions reminds me of how good easy to make comfort foods like roasted sweet potatoes and cornbread taste with molasses as a condiment. Baking sweet potatoes and cornbread in your oven on a cold December day also warms your home and makes it smell sensational. Here’s a corn bread recipe below for the Christmas Holidays.
Sweet corn bread recipe:
3/4 self-rising cornmeal
1 cup Spelt flour (it’s better tasting and healthier than white or wheat flour)
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup vanilla soymilk, (a fortified soy milk is a very good tasting healthy choice, I suggest the Vitasoy brand for newbies)
1 egg or egg substitute (beaten)
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp butter (Try I Can’t Believe It’s not Butter available at most supermarkets and Costco)
Preheat oven to 400; Combine dry ingredients. Add milk, egg and oil. Mix well. Spray a large cast iron skillet like the one in the photo or a 9 inch pie pan with Pam. Bake until tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean (about 25 minutes). Melt butter and brush over the top of the bread when it comes fresh out the oven; serves 8.