03 October 2008


When I lived in San Francisco I cooked French food as much as I could. We also cooked and ate American food, of course. And Chinese, Thai, and Indian food. Pizzas and spaghetti.

Yesterday I made turkey chili. Walt said it sounded like it would be good with cornbread. So I went looking for a recipe. I wanted to make something slightly different from the cornbread we have made here in the past.

Corn pone fresh from the oven

I came up with Corn Pone. Can you believe it? When was the last time you cooked or ate pone.

Here's the recipe. It's from a book called the American Regional Cookbook: Recipes from Yesterday and Today for the Modern Cook, by Nancy and Arthur Hawkins (Prentice-Hall, Inc., ©1976).
Corn Pone

2 cups cornmeal
1 cup boiling water
1 Tbs. melted butter or other fat
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
½ cup cold water
2 eggs, well beaten
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Put the cornmeal into a bowl, stir in the boiling water and melted fat.

Stir in the buttermilk, cold water, eggs, soda, and salt. Beat thoroughly and turn into a well-greased, hot baking pan (batter should be about ¾ inch deep).

Put pan in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Cut into squares and serve.

*You can make sour milk by putting a tablespoonful of vinegar in a cup of fresh milk.
Turkey chili and corn pone

It's funny to be making such corny (!) American specialties while living in the Loire Valley. Something about the distance that separates us from the U.S. creates the desire. There are so many American recipes that produce really good results if you do everything from scratch.

If you live in France, can you find cornmeal? I wonder how widely available it is. I brought some back from N.C., and then BettyAnn brought me some in May. Now I've found local cornmeal, produced here in the Loire Valley. What about you?

Autumn weather at La Renaudière

Maybe it's also the autumn weather that is making me crave collard greens, chili, and cornbread. It will soon be sauerkraut time, one of our favorite seasons.

We are having cold rain and even sleet — du grésil — this morning in northern France.


  1. Ken,
    I agree! I think it is the autumn weather. Its starting to get chilly here in DC and your collards, chili and cornbread seem to be on everyone's weekend menu. Maybe some braised short ribs too?
    Thanks for the blog (although I know you don't do it for me). I've really enjoy reading about your adventures.
    Kind regards,

  2. Talking about cornmeal, have you ever heard of "les gaudes?" I remember having some at my grandmother when I was a child. I still long to have some again. As I recall, it was delicious and tasty! It is a specialty of Franche-Comté where some of my ancestors come from.

  3. "Semoule de maïs" is readily available in France, and seems to work as a decent substitute for cornmeal, especially if you can get the coarser kind (often sold in bio stores).

  4. It is very interesting when you talk about different ingredients and the readers come up with their own. Here in Montreal we have Semoule de maïs ( fine, medium and coarse) which they translate into corn meal and I use it to make Polenta. I like to read the comments from chm.
    Looks like I am learning a lot on this blog from the birth place of the grand-fathers of my husband : Noyer-sur Cher from you and Franche-Comte from chm :-)

  5. Hi Beaver, nous sommes cousins! My great-grand-father was from Arbois and his mother was from Vuillafans

  6. Cornpone! Harriett's favorite. She makes it often.

    Always makes me think of the song from Li'l Abner, "Jubilation T Cornpone"

  7. Ken, could you describe how corn pone is different from cornbread? Is it the texture, the flavor? I've wondered about it, but didn't know whom to ask.


  8. Chm

    Thank you for the info. The paternal grand-parents were from Haute-Saone (Soing & Cornot). I guess close to Jura and Doubs :-)

    sorry Ken for hijacking your blog

  9. Yes, Ken, I was wondering also what difference there might be between corn pone and corn bread. Your recipe seems like the recipe I have in a cookbook for "golden cornbread".

    Hey, my students are now using Peter Hertzmann's "À la carte" website for class :) They're each picking a recipe to present the steps of in class, and, hopefully, also make and share with the class. Plus, his conversions are well done!

    Bon weekend!
    (Is the damn radiator back in place yet? :))


  10. Just came back from the supermarket in La Quinta, SoCal, and they had Collard greens, Mustard greens and Turnip greens all for 99 cents a pound. Didn't buy any yet. First I have to look for recipes. Mustard greens are my favorite.

  11. The last photo in your post is so beautiful, Ken, it looks like a painting!


    p.s. Glad you found a local source for cornmeal. That stuff is damn heavy in a suitcase. ;-)


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