For last week's homework, Cal brought home a writing checklist that included 'alliteration,' a term I’d forgotten about long ago. So I’ve been practicing with my captions on Instagram – “Sunday sky at sunrise,” “Monday morning moonset,” “stuck seastars.” After reading about Theodor Seuss Geisel – “Dr. Seuss” – for the writing project and learning that he drew on his bedroom walls as a kid, Cal convinced me to allow him to draw, in pencil, on his walls.
When our friends Molly and June come over, June and I have a routine. She greets me with a “hi!” or a kiss or, if I’m lucky, both, and then she lets me know she wants to eat. That she is eager for my cooking is always the best thing I’ve heard all day. This past week, they came over on what happened to be the first day of spring. It secretly felt celebratory to me to have dinner guests, though the occasion took a back seat to the necessities and mundanity of a school night. I wish I had made a cake. After June helped Cal with his piano practice, we ventured forth to the beach. June wanted her coat on and off, on and off, the way Abbott used to fill and empty, empty and fill containers. While she played with fistfuls of pebbles, Nelly swam and chased gulls.
To end our weekend, like nearly every other day, we walked the beach, sidestepping the squirting of geoducks, stopping to look at the sea stars always adhered to the same huge barnacle-and-mussel encrusted rock, only visible at a very low tide. Nelly kept us together as we meandered, herding us if we strayed apart.
Custard Filled Cornbread with Blueberries
One cloudy night this past week I felt like baking, and so we had breakfast for dinner. My friend Megan recently wrote a book that's full of inspired ideas – Whole Grain Mornings! – and it includes a new version of an old favorite of ours. I’ve been making custard-filled cornbread for years; since I first read about it in Molly’s book. It's been on our Christmas breakfast table at least once. I worried about changing a tried and true recipe, but Megan's adaptations were a huge – huge! – hit with us all.
Custard-Filled Cornbread with Blueberries
adapted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg and Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup medium grind yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk (not low fat or nonfat)
1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (300ml) blueberries
1 cup heavy cream
pure maple syrup, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8-inch square or 9-inch round pan, and put it in the oven while you make the batter.
Place the butter in a large microwaveable bowl, and melt it the microwave with short bursts of heat to avoid splattering. Let it cool slightly. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside.
Lightly beat the eggs, and then whisk them into the melted butter. Add the sugar, salt, milk, vinegar, lemon zest and vanilla, and whisk well again. While continuing to whisk, add the flour mixture. Mix until the batter is quite smooth.
Remove the heated pan from the oven and place on a baking sheet for easy transport. Spoon the blueberries into the bottom of the pan in an even layer, and then pour the batter over them. Slowly pour the cream into the center of the batter. Do not stir. Carefully place the pan into the oven, and bake until golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes so the custard has time to set. Serve warm, with a generous glug of maple syrup on top. Will keep for 3 days covered in the refrigerator.
Yield: 6-8 servings