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  • Kate Barker

The “Urge” for Cornbread and Buttermilk

One day the urge overtook me.

I just wanted a tall glass of cold buttermilk and cornbread. I don’t know what it is about a hot summer day that makes me want buttermilk and cornbread.


When I had the Oregon Street Tea Room (on Oregon Street in Redding ), sometimes

I would sneak into the kitchen and pour myself a tall one. The entire staff was appalled.

Them: “Yuck !!”

Me: “What ? What’ s the matter?” I thought they’d seen mouse droppings or something totally deplorable.

Them: ” Are you really gonna drink that ? “

Me: “Of course. Haven’t you ever tried buttermilk ?”

Them: “Buttermilk is for cooking, not drinking”

Me: ” Have you ever tried it ?”

Thus began the survey and ” taste test” of buttermilk.

I converted no one !!

Not one of them appreciated the thick, smooth, tart and buttery flavor as it slid down their throats. ( Two of them gagged ).

I guess, like other unusual foods (sushi, kimchi, escargot, pork fried rinds) buttermilk is an acquired taste. For me, it’s a “comfort” food…I can shut my eyes and see my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. All of us, sitting around the dining room table, laughing and shouting, pouring our buttermilk and smothering our cornbread with butter and sorghum !

Funny how memories and food are connected.

Nammer’s Cornbread Recipe

My husband loves this corn bread because it doesn’t fall apart. (His biggest complaint about cornbread). The color is not a bright yellow because of the sorghum.

My Grandma always baked her cornbread in a square cast iron skillet. I don’t have a

square one so I use my 10″ round one.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F

2 cups Cornbread and Muffin Mix

1 egg

2 tablespoons sorghum (or honey)

2 tablespoons soft butter plus a little extra for the skillet

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

After you have put all the ingredients in a bowl to mix, add the extra butter to the skillet and stick the skillet in the pre-heated oven. Mix your ingredients. By now, the butter should be melted in the skillet, so carefully, with a pot holder, pull it out and pour the cornbread mixture into the hot skillet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. It will be nice and crusty on the bottom ! So delicious with a tall glass of buttermilk or a cup of strong black tea, one that takes milk and sugar !


May all your infusions be filled with joyful memories !


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