Words & recipe by Meredith Steele
My feet hit the pavement as fast as they could after school when I knew my nanny, RoRo, was going to be cooking. Smells of stewed green beans, sweet black-eyed peas and chicken hung heavier in the air the closer I got to the house. My excitement grew with every step because I knew that she always saved cooking the best recipe – her cornbread – for last! The moment I got home, I’d sling my backpack off my shoulders not caring where it would land, wash my hands and grab a spoon, ready to help her create the most delicious cornbread in the world.
Her name was Rosa Bell Johnson. I called her RoRo, and she had been with my family as long as I could remember – she even helped my great grandparents once they had become elderly. When I was born she immediately helped care for me because both of my parents worked. She had a snarky sense of humour and was a master in the kitchen; I loved her dearly.
Always her aide in the kitchen, I learned much more than how to make a recipe. She knew that not only do we show care, thought, and love through food, but that knowing how to cook for yourself was just as important as knowing how to tie your shoelaces.
I look back on those days with a full heart and am grateful that someone took the time to teach me the joys and benefits of cooking. Just like she taught me how to cook, I now teach my daughter. It doesn’t matter how good we are at cooking, just spending time together in the kitchen together brings us closer and makes us more aware of what we’re eating — viva la Food Revolution, right?
So, in the spirit of the upcoming Food Revolution Day, my daughter Mia and I would like to share with you a lightened version of RoRo’s cornbread recipe – I say lightened because RoRo was a good ol’ southern cook with no fear of a pound of bacon fat. Our version replaces the bacon fat and sugar with skim ricotta and just a touch of honey for an incredibly moist and flavourful cornbread to indulge in.
Tender, moist, and delicious, this ricotta cornbread is a guaranteed family favorite. Grab this recipe, or any recipe for that matter, and please join us Friday 16 May for Food Revolution Day. We’ll be jumping into the kitchen with our children and getting excited about food again! You never know how great the impact might be.
Ricotta cornbread recipe
Makes 9 slices
- Butter, for greasing
- 1 ¼ cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup/130g flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 15 ounces (weight) part-skim ricotta
- 1 cup/240ml semi-skimmed or 2% milk
- 2 tablespoons honey
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/. Grease an 8×8 inch-deep baking pan with butter. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt, then stir. In another bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta, milk and honey, then whisk until smooth.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared baking pan and place in the oven to bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Carefully remove the cornbread from pan by flipping it out onto a cooling rack, then allow to cool slightly. With a knife, slice into 9 squares and serve with butter and a touch of honey, or as an accompaniment to soup, chilli, beans or stews.