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Praise the Cook

When Cindy and I were first married I had to

show her how to boil water. Her mother would

sneak over care packages of food after learning

we had dined at Krystal's the last four nights in a

row (back then the burger chain's chili was thick,

tasty and a real bargain).

Today, I pay homage to three of her signature dishes

that are simple and a delight every time.

Mexican Cornbread.

Heavy and moist like a quiche. She preheats

a 10 inch cast iron pan, adding Crisco. Mix yellow

corn meal, buttermilk, finely shredded cheddar cheese,

a can of cream corn, diced jalapeno and pimentos. Pour

into the hot pan and bake in a 450 degree oven for

45 minutes or until done. I splash on some

Tabasco sauce.

This recipe comes from an old cookbook complied by

members of the Order of Easter Star of Mobile in

mid-1980 and sold as a fundraiser. (See image)

Chili with Bacon Infused Cornbread.

Pound and a half of good quality beef, browned in

a big pot, add garlic, chili powder, chopped onions,

salt, pepper, chili beans and tomato sauce. Simmer.

Her cornbread bakes for fifteen minutes in a 425

degree oven, in a nine inch well preheated

cast iron pan that contains 2 tablespoons of bacon


Mix white cornbread, teaspoon of salt, baking soda,

a slightly beaten egg, a tablespoon of bacon

drippings, and a cup of buttermilk. Pour into the hot

pan. Working together we can have a great meal in

twenty minutes.

We've modified the original cornbread recipe a

bit, but inspirational credit goes to Cowboy Kent

and Shannon Rollins

we highly recommend their books.

Large white Lima beans with Bacon Infused Cornbread.

The same great-tasting cornbread. The beans are

simmered on high heat in a crock pot from breakfast to

midday, well covered in water or a stock, with a few strips

of bacon, salt and pepper. Cindy likes her beans as is. I

garnish with hot sauce, diced green onions, or garlic salt

and ketchup.

Cindy's mother (Christine or "Cricket," as she was called by

her husband) would add a large side of chopped fried

potatoes and also fry the cornbread mix. Her kids would

fight to get a place at the table. It was the most requested

dish anytime one of us returned home.

Christine Martin Ayers, her two siblings and mother

were abandoned by their father, Clarence. He was once

arrested in Texas for bigamy. Jinsey Martin worked as

a riveter at the Brookley Field complex during WWII, but

raised her family mostly on the wages of a nursing assistant

employed by Mobile General Hospital. Christine's

younger brother contracted measles at a very young age

and was forever cognitively and emotionally impaired. As

children, they lived in impoverished, disadvantaged

circumstances. As adults, you would never suspect that

dire background.

Christine was a model mother and traditional wife. Her

occupation was the safety, stability, and nurturing of her

family. Her children would not suffer the same

vagaries of her own childhood. Honest, loyal and

forgiving. No son-in-law could have had a better mother-




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