It's been cold here this weekend, and snowy and icy, too, which is fine by me. I think I can stand one more snow storm, or "snow event" as they call it around here, and then I'll be about ready for winter to be done, and for spring to begin to move in, slowly but surely. I never paid as much attention to the seasons as I do now that I'm a parent. In fact, I remember the first fall that L. was old enough to experience, when he was about 14 o 15 months old, and I held him in my arms in front of a window and told him the story of how to leaves change colors and fall to the ground. He listened so carefully, his cheeks puffed out in concentration, and I listened, too. It seemed suddenly new and miraculous to me, as I told him about it, as if I were hearing it--or seeing it all again for the first time.
And now of course, with older children, it's all about the changing of the seasons, with holidays to mark each one, and a new and exciting thing around the corner with each fall and winter, spring and summer.. But since we're still firmly rooted in winter now I've been thinking about wintry food, and winter comforts, too--not just the ones that make you feel warm inside but the ones that also conjure up warmer times, and warmer places. I'm not the only one, either. On Friday we gathered with friends at a neighbor's house. Since the pool closed in September we've started up a monthly "supper club" on the first Friday of each month. We meet at a different house each time, and each month the dinner has a different theme. We've come to so look forward to first Fridays, and a chance to spend time with these good friends of ours from the neighborhood--for the kids to run amok together, while we grown-ups eat and drink and talk the night away.
This Friday the theme was "South of the Border"--and the food was all chiles and black beans and wonderful pico de gallo and guacamole--all those warm, spicy, tomato-tangy and sweet onion tastes that conjure up warm sun and warm breezes, and screened-in-porches and lazy fans circling around and around, and that are somehow extra delicious when the weather is so cold outside, and summer is still months away. I brought my vegetarian chile, with the spice dialed up many notches thanks to some mysterious little green and orange peppers Scott found at the Asian market the other day. I also made a pan of vegan cornbread--the same cornbread my dad made the last time he was here. I love using So Delicious coconut milk as a dairy substitute in all my baking recipes--it works better than soy milk does as far as the consistency it lends to the batter, and doesn't leave your baked goods with that soy milk aftertaste I personally don't like as much.
The cornbread was a hit, and while we did take a few squares as leftovers home with us, it was better the night before, eaten in a warm kitchen, surrounded by good friends.
Vegan cornbread (adapted from here)
1/4 cup water
3 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 cup organic corn meal
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup So Delicious coconut milk
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup corn kernels (I used canned)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a measuring cup, whisk water and Ener-G Egg Replacer until the lumps are gone. Put aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). Mix in coconut milk, oil, and then egg replacer; mix well. Stir in corn until well-distributed. Pour batter into greased baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until you can poke the center with a toothpick and it comes out clean. Slice and enjoy with a drizzle of honey, or margarine, or agave syrup over the top.