Hush Puppies & Grilled Cheese

Hush Puppies as an Alternative

These are a nice change to serve with Family Chili instead of Cornbread .
After having a he-child, I found out why they are called “Hush Puppies” and it has nothing to do with canines!  LOL  I don’t know where I got the recipe so many years ago, but our family has loved it for a long time.

Hush Puppies

1 3/4 C corn meal
1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 small sweet onion, very finely chopped
1 C buttermilk
1 fresh farm egg, beaten

Heat your deep fryer oil to 375* in Deep Fryer.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in your favorite mixing bowl.
Carefully stir  the onion in.
In a separate bowl , mix the buttermilk and egg well.  Add to the dry ingredients, and mix thoroughly.  Remember that you can’t get rid of the lumps because of the onion.

Carefully, drop batter by spoonful into the hot oil.
When it floats, carefully turn each hush puppy over to finish cooking.
Drain on paper towels, then serve hot with real butter.

*I have found that we like them better with smaller spoons, perhaps about 2T of batter to be about the size of a walnut when done.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Oddly enough, I have found that there are many ways to make Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.  Some are edible, while some are delicious!  Let me share with you how I prefer to make Grilled Cheese Sandwiches to go with Homemade Chili.

Quality food begins with quality ingredients, so you want a dense bread that gets nice & crispy on a cast iron  griddle. Sometimes I like to use Sourdough Bread.

Grilled Cheese sandwich, by definition, must have a good cheese.  Stop using that fake stuff that comes individually wrapped in a cool, plastic sleeve.  Instead, you want either American Cheese or Cheddar Cheese or Provolone Cheese.  Sometimes, you will want to use more than one. Sometimes, you will want Longhorn or Colby or Monterey Jack cheeses.

Then, of course, you want real butter. Real butter, whether salted or unsalted is the only choice to make.

Step One

Turn on the fire under your cast iron griddle to heat.  A hot griddle is essential for proper browning.


Get out your ingredients … bread, cheese, butter … and a table knife with serving plates.  On my work surface, I like to place a long square of waxed paper, just for ease of clean-up.  Get two slices of bread.

If the bread is dense, butter the surfaces of the bread that will touch each other.  When the griddle is hot, place the two slices of bread butter-side-down on it.  While it is on the griddle, butter the top sides.  When it is browned, nice and crispy, flip over one slice of bread.  Quickly put two layers of the desired cheese on top, cover with the other browned slice, with the browned side against the cheese.

Notice what you have … the bread has grilled sides on the inside of the sandwich, against the cheese.  The outside of the sandwich has two buttered sides.  When the first side browns, flip it over and brown the last side.  Serve it hot next to a bowl of Chili or other Soup.

Second Option

If your bread is nothing special, just regular loaf bread, that’s fine.  You still want to have a hot cast iron griddle ready.

This time, just butter the outsides of your bread.  If you are making sandwiches for a crowd, you can stack them with buttered sides together.  When it is time to cook them, you can easily separate the slices, place one piece buttered-side down, put your two slices of cheese on top, and then add the final slice of bread with buttered-side up.

Brown it as desired and flip gently to brown the second side.  Serve hot with a bowl of chili or whatever else you like with a grilled cheese sandwich!

Corn Bread in a Cast Iron Skillet

Corn Bread Recipes

In my opinion, this is the only way to make Corn Bread!  I will share with you the recipe that my mother used when I was growing up, and I will share my slight changes.

Mom’s Recipe

2C degermed yellow cornmeal
2T white, all-purpose flour
2tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
2C soured milk
1 med egg, beaten
1/4 C shortening

Preheat your oven to 450*, putting your 8-10″ skillet & shortening in when you turn on the oven.

In your  batter bowl mix together the dry ingredients.
Make your soured milk by putting 2T vinegar in your measuring cup and filling to the 2C line with sweet milk.
Add the egg to the milk, then add to the dry ingredients, and mix well.

Once your oven & skillet are hot, carefully remove the skillet and carefully swirl the now melted shortening around the pan to coat, then pour it into the cornbread batter.  Stir in.

Pour the batter back into the hot skillet and return to the oven.  Bake for about 40 minutes.  It is done when browned and releases from the sides of the skillet.  It should turn out of the skillet easily when inverted over a plate.

Cut into wedges, butter, and serve hot with brown beans, chopped onions, and fried potatoes, or with your favorite chili recipe.

My Corn Bread Recipe

Basically it is the same recipe, but with whole grain ingredients.

2C organic, stoneground cornmeal
2T whole wheat flour
2tsp baking powder, non-aluminum
1tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
2C yogurt, plain or vanilla
1 large farm egg, beaten
1/4 C oil

Put a dry iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 450*

In your batter bowl  whisk  together the dry ingredients.
Put the yogurt and egg into a mixing bowl  to mix thoroughly, then add to the dry ingredients, and stir together.

Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven when it reaches 450*, and pour  oil  in the hot skillet.  Carefully swirl it around the skillet to coat it, then pour into the batter.  Stir it in, then pour the batter into the hot skillet, and carefully return the skillet to the hot oven.

Bake it for 20 minutes.  Important to note the difference in baking time!
It is done when browned and releases from the sides of the skillet.  It should turn out of the skillet easily when inverted over a plate.

*A different substitution can be made by using buttermilk instead of soured milk or yogurt.  In that case, bake for 30 minutes.  I have absolutely no idea why the baking times are different, and they may vary differently for you.

Cast Iron Cooking

As you have been reading and learning about living on a homestead or farm, you have seen articles about cooking with cast iron.  You may already have skills and knowledge, and hopefully this article will teach you something new.  Most likely, however, is that you have never even tried or perhaps tried and feel like you failed when you cooked in cast iron.  There is a specific set of skills you need and I will teach you as I taught my own children.  I didn’t have much to give them when they grew up and left home, but they got an iron skillet and knew how to use it.

A Brief History of Cast Iron Cookware

For my family, cooking in cast iron goes back for generations.  We didn’t skip a generation, since Grandma Honey and Farmer Graybeard have always appreciated the old ways.  Our mothers & grandmothers fried our taters nearly every day in a Cast Iron Skillet.

Hint Number One

Preheat your skillet before adding food.  Put your empty skillet over a medium flame and heat it until it turns. This is a term my sister uses that does describe it, and you will begin to recognize it as you get more familiar with your skillet.  You will know it when you shake a few drops of water on the hot skillet and they dance across the surface.

At this point, add your oil, bacon grease, or whatever fat you are going to use and swirl it carefully around the bottom of the skillet, then add your food.  For me, that is quite commonly small pieces of potatoes for fried potatoes, or my corn bread batter.  I will add my corn bread recipe for your enjoyment.

Once the potatoes are in, I often add diced onions and/or green peppers to the top, a bit more bacon grease, and then put the lid on.  The steam helps make them more tender.  Every few minutes, turn the potatoes over to cook on all sides.

Hint Number Two

Add meat to a cold pan.  This seems to contradict my first hint, and I guess it does.  This is why cooking with iron seems tricky.

When I am pan frying bacon, sausage, hamburgers, franks, or other meats, I typically start with a cold pan.  Adding meats to hot pan can cause them to stick to the pan from the shock of the temperature change.

Note that the meats I mentioned do not require additional fat to cook in your iron skillet.  Cook them on low heat, and use a lid for most of them.  The steam created will help the sausage, burgers, and franks cook thoroughly.  Sometimes, you may want to add a bit of water to breakfast or smoked sausages.

Bacon is a bit different.  Once you have a family, one skillet of bacon isn’t enough, sometimes even two won’t get it, so you have to add bacon to a hot skillet as you take out the already cooked bacon.  That’s the only way there is to do it.  I like to take the cooked bacon out of the hot oil and put in a cold iron skillet or griddle to drain.  I then use that pan to cook the eggs once the bacon is done.  Just move the drained bacon to the serving platter to cook the eggs.

Cook your eggs gently in a warm skillet, not a hot one.  If your eggs get browned, you are overcooking them and that explains why they may not be a favorite food!  Cook them through, but not browned.  Watch for a post that shows how to cook them properly.

Hint Number Three

Yes, wash your iron skillets in hot, soapy water!  Don’t let them soak in the water, but most certainly wash them.  Personally, I don’t want today’s fried taters tasting like yesterday’s smoked sausage or hamburgers.

If you are letting your skillet get really hot before adding food, and using your oil, you are going to find that they become non-stick with use.  This means that clean-up is easy to do.

If you find that you need to scrub the pans, start first with Nylon Pan Scrapers and then use a Scrubber Sponge  or Scouring pad.   You do not need something harsh like stainless steel or copper scrubbers.  There is no reason to scratch your ironware.  That just makes the prone to making food stick.

After washing in the hot, soapy water, rinse with really hot water.  Let them air dry upside down, and you really won’t need to baby them with retreating or heating on the stove/in the oven, or any of those other steps that make ironware seem to be more trouble than they are worth!

With that said, you definitely want to hand wash your cast iron.  Never, ever put your iron pans in an automatic dishwasher.

Hint Number Four

As you are accumulating your iron cookware, you will find yourself needing several pieces.  Two or three 10″ skillets, 1-2 round griddles , and maybe a larger, two-burner griddle.

I don’t have any cast iron Dutch ovens for use in the house, although I have considered the enamel-coated version.   Some day,  will write about cast iron to use in your firepit, including how to use a Dutch oven there.

In the house, I typically use stainless steel stockpots and saucepans.  I will write an article about them another time.