Now, that's some serious good eatin', right there. Leftover cornbread that crumbles when you take a bite and smokey bits of pork chop pulled off the bone make a delicious breakfast. I'm sure we have discussed the finer points of cornbread before, but let's do it again, just because I like to talk up Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, which according to their box is "America's Favorite." Proclaiming themselves "America's Favorite" might be a strike against them in old timers' eyes, but I don't mind 'em getting the big head because I think their cornbread is right tasty.
This would not be the prevalent opinion in our family, though. In fact, this glowing opinion of cornbread out of a box might readily be greeted with a laugh and a "what do you know about air brakes on a banty rooster?" Laws-a-swanee, I even bake that boxed mix in a pyrex dish instead of a cast iron skillet. Could be the end of me, I reckon, but I won't give in and see the error of my ways.
Can I take you back to my grandmother's kitchen so you can see why boxed mix cornbread is such sacrilege? Imagine yourself waking up in an old farmhouse on a summer morning. Your bare feet hit the still chilly linoleum floor as you roll out of your side of the bed. Your cousin or sister might still be snoozing over on their side, snuggled up with most of the quilts pulled over against the wall. You stare at the dated wallpaper for a minute, trying to convince yourself it's time to ease on downstairs and then outside into the dewy grass on your way to the outhouse. On the way down those painted and worn stairsteps, you can see vague hints of sunlight through the front door and past the porch and shaded yard. You round the corner into the living room and head for the kitchen. By now, your feet are used to the morning chill of the floor. Later in the day, you'll remember that feeling when you come inside seeking a little bit of relief from the hot sun.
As you walk by the kitchen table, you lift the cotten dish towels that are spread over the biscuits and (hopefully) bacon left from when your Granny and Granddaddy ate their breakfast much earlier in the morning. You could head for that table practically any time of the day and find leftovers setting out. If you found the cornbread before your cousins and brother and sister, you grabbed your favorite part while the gettin' was good. I always liked the edges, where the crust was a little bumpy and had breaks in it. My sister usually liked the middle, the smoother the crust and the thicker the inside, the better. Granny sure didn't make that cornbread from a mix. Her cornbread was coarser and not as sweet as my beloved Jiffy, but I liked it a lot at the time, especially with some grape jelly spread on top. Granny also made cornbread to feed her chickens sometimes, and you wanted to make sure to avoid that stuff. It was thick, dense, and had not a hint of sweetness. Yuck. . . but the chickens liked it, and it was cheap to make a batch.
Now, come on over to my mother's kitchen as it was when I was a kid, pull out a chair at the table, and grab yourself a stick of cornbread. Still not from the box, but somehow tastier than Granny's. Mmmm, I loved when she baked cornbread in the cast iron pan with the corn-shaped troughs that formed sticks of crusty cornbread. Leftover cornbread never lasts long in my mom's kitchen. In fact, there was a time when she'd make extra cornbread to leave on the stove for all of us cornbread snitching snackers.
So, you see, my love for cornbread that only requires me to add an egg and 1/3 cup of milk is a bit of a sacrilege. My only excuse is that I love the sweeeeeeeeeeeet taste and smooth texture of Jiffy. Guess that would be the sugar-seeking gene from the other side of the family coming into play.